Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

The Gatekeeper’s Daughter: Chapter 29

Esther Teichtal

“Home?” Laima doesn’t mean to taunt, but the way she says it makes Daina flinch

Wednesday, March 06, 2019


aina steps out into the front yard and a rush of icy air hits her nose. She quickly zips her coat and shuts the door behind her, marveling at how clean it looks with its fresh coat of paint. Motina is still sleeping soundly. Good. She doesn’t want to hear about how she should leave Laima alone.

Yesterday, straight off the plane, Motina had showed her around, a satisfied gleam in her eyes. The newly painted walls. The old pine floorboards finally free of dust and grime.

“What do you think, my sweet?” Motina asked, offering her potato blynai with an eager smile.

Something about the encounter grated on Daina’s nerves. Too enthusiastic. Too late. Too many questions left unanswered. Why only now? Where were you before? Where were you when it really mattered? Was it easier to let go of me than this miserable house?

She has almost forgotten how cold it gets here. Daina digs deep into her pockets and follows the familiar cracks in the sidewalk to the intersection near Laima’s house. Faces zip by: scarves and hats, gloves and briefcases. And yet, the street is hushed, not alive like the Guttmans’ neighborhood. People walk briskly, focused, umbrellas tucked beneath their arms, headphones blaring in their ears, as if the frost has turned them to ice cubes.

Daina catches sight of Laima’s green bag turning toward the main avenue. She is lugging something brown and clunky. It’s hard to tell from afar. Daina breaks into a run, then slows as she nears Laima. Treading softly, she draws up behind her friend and clamps her palms across her eyes.

“Aaah!” Laima struggles to shrug her off, but her arms are full.

“Laima! It’s me!”

Laima subsides. “Who?”

“Come on! Guess!”

“No. Waaay!”

Daina releases her grip, and Laima turns with a smile warmer than the sun. “This is crazy! What kind of vėlė are you? Am I looking at your spirit?”

“Guess it was time to come home, huh?”

“Home?” Laima doesn’t mean to taunt, but the way she says it makes Daina flinch.

“We have our home back. Have you not seen my motina around?”

Laima’s eyes flit off Daina’s shoulders. She shifts the bulky instrument she’s holding and talks of that instead.

“This thing is heavy. Ever seen such a beauty, Daina?” She sits on a nearby street bench and lays its boat-shaped, linden body on her lap, rippling through a string of notes, for show.

“Wow. That’s… that’s so cool. Since when do you play the kankle?”

“Old grouch Mazeika opened an advanced music class after the national contest. Motina signed me up, and I agreed. Guess I missed you, hah?” Laima laughs.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 633)

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

Letters That Speak
Shoshana Friedman They tell us what it is that our readers want
Peddlers of Hope and Faith
Rabbi Moshe Grylak A personal tribute to two warriors of the spirit
Coddled on Campus
Yonoson Rosenblum Animosity against Jewish students going strong
Take Yes for an Answer
Eytan Kobre We’re not rage monkeys with skullcaps
Sefirah? What's Sefirah?
Rabbi Henoch Plotnik A tragedy swept under the rug?
Top 5 Jewish Reminders
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Have we lost our ability to remember?
Work/Life Solutions with Mordy Golding
Moe Mernick "It’s okay to change the plan as you go"
A Modern Eternal Flame
Rabbi Emanuel Feldman The classic rabbinic dictum still stands
I Don't Work on Shabbos
Baruch S. Fertel, MD, MPA, FACEP with Zivia Reischer You don't cut corners with Yiddishkeit
Mood Mix with Sheya Mendlowitz
Riki Goldstein "It’s a truly heilige niggun"
Truth Will Tell
Faigy Peritzman To constantly be in a state of upward motion
Mad at Dad
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Why many fathers get a bad rap
Eternal Victory
Mrs. Shani Mendlowitz To be personable, you need to develop your personality
The Baker: Part IV
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "She’s just a pareve version of her potential self”