W

e all went out onto the porch. Outside, near the entrance to our apartment building, we saw a… what exactly?

“That’s not a moving van.” Tova was scornful. “Moving vans are big trucks. This is just an ordinary van.”

“It’s a little truck,” said Moishy.

“An ordinary van,” insisted Tova.

It was one of those arguments that could’ve gone on forever if nobody stopped it. “Look, they’re taking a refrigerator out of the… out of this vehicle,” I said diplomatically, avoiding taking sides. “That means it is a new family moving in!”

“A little refrigerator,” observed Shmuel.

“Maybe it’s a small family,” Batya reasoned.

The movers moved some more pieces of furniture from the van to the sidewalk, where they stood around looking like lost children. Did you ever notice how a bed or closet look pathetic when they’re out on a sidewalk instead of inside a room?

Next the movers started taking out cardboard boxes. “Is that all the furniture?” wondered Batya. “I’m telling you, it must be a really small family!” She was curious (Who, me? You were the curious one, Batya!) so we went downstairs to watch the proceedings from up close.

On our way down, we passed the Citronbaums’ door. It was closed and looked just as usual. A colorful sign made by one of the grandchildren calmly announced to all concerned that, “The Citronbaums Live Here.” Odd. Why weren’t the movers going in and out?

“Look!” Moishy, who had run downstairs ahead of us, called out. “They’re taking the things to the secondhand clothes’ place!”

I ran down after him. “Is a family going to live in the secondhand clothes’ place? It’s so tiny!”

“It’s big enough for a person living alone, without a family,” said Batya behind me.

I was disappointed. “There goes my dream of a boy my age moving in.”

“So what? Maybe a boy your age will move into the Citronbaums’ apartment, and you never expected another new family besides them,” said Batya reasonably. “What do you care if the secondhand clothes’ place stays empty or if someone lives there alone?”

The “secondhand clothes’ place” is a tiny apartment in the basement of our building, next to all the storage rooms that belong to different neighbors. We call it that because it used to be the neighborhood center for secondhand clothes. But then they found a better place, and the apartment had been empty for a while. I wondered who was moving in.

“Here he is!” Tova whispered.

A man who looked about our zeidy’s age came into the lobby, holding a large box and walking slowly toward the stairs.

“Let’s help him!” I said. “He looks pretty old to be lugging around heavy boxes.”

“But the movers are here! Why is he carrying it himself?” Batya wondered.

“Yes, that’s strange… but we should offer to help anyway,” I decided, and went over to him. “Excuse me, can I help you carry—”

“No, no!” He drew back in alarm and hugged the box tightly as if protecting it from danger. “Don’t touch!” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 734)