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Short Story: The Wearying Wait

Batya S. Cohen

She knew that Hashem is in charge. She knew that He decides how much parnassah each person gets. She knew all this, but it still hurt. It hurt to see a vibrant, personable man just waiting, sitting around, attending interviews, following up with phone calls — and then nothing.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

“It’s a specialized field. The right job will come along.”

They discussed the statistics, one month of searching for every $10,000 you expect to make. They joked that if he hoped to be a millionaire, he’d be searching for a long while …

They weren’t starving; her administrator salary from the community center covered the basics. But they were pinching on extras. All those little things that didn’t used to matter. More than bikes for the kids, a new BBQ grill, or windshield wipers for the car, it’s that his hands are tied that’s killing him.

She made a private deal with Hashem. She thought if she just was extra careful in shmiras halashon for one hour a day, that zchus could go toward her husband finding a job.

And then a month later, the perfect job opening came up, an opportunity to use his creative talents for a Torah organization, an established company looking to expand online. He began planning, he went to meetings, he called, he texted, he e-mailed. The deal was ready to go through. He bought a new computer. He cleared his schedule. He turned down a different offer. He talked about leasing a car, for the new project would include a lot of traveling. It was only a six-month deal, but it could lead to bigger and better things …

“It’ll be hard,” he warned. “I’ll be away a lot.” She was so happy to see him busy, so happy to see him happy, she said she didn’t care. This kind of hard she could deal with.

Throughout the Pesach break, he talked about the project incessantly. Thursday after Yom Tov he was all set to go. She left for work, waving goodbye with “Good luck, I’m sure you’ll be amazing.”

At work, she threw herself into her routine. Happy to be back at her desk, back with her work friends, and glad that the nagging worry was finally quieted.

Later that morning, he stopped by her office with a coffee and a Danish.

His cheeks were flushed and he rocked on the balls of his feet as he handed her the brown paper bag.

“Look at this.” He held up his BlackBerry, the screen open to a text from Rabbi Sternstein, the project head.

“Something came up. Funding was pulled, I’ll have to work on it, will get back to you in a few days.”

She looked up sharply and saw that his flush was from anger, and the rocking from nervous disappointment — not from excitement, as she’d originally thought. Her stomach dropped, and the cinnamon of the Danish was suddenly cloying.

“What … what happened?”


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