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Family Fiction: The Screen Door

Raizy Isaacs

If Fraidy brushed off comments with vague rejoinders, well, there was a new Infiniti in the driveway and a full-time Rosanna to confirm everyone’s suspicions

Wednesday, July 20, 2016


Photo: Shutterstock.

Shia spoke into the stillness, and music obediently rushed out of the speakers. He picked up the wedding invitation and gave a quick glance before throwing it back over the dashboard. Fraidy unwrapped a mint from her evening bag and sat back, letting the tension of the evening dissipate. Traffic was smooth, and 20 minutes later they pulled up next to the hall. 

They made their way through the lobby, spotting a circle of familiar faces next to the elevators: the Walners, the Kurtzes, the Bernsteins — dear members of the “country crowd.” The bond formed over countless summers of shared space and sunshine was strong enough to bring everyone together in mid-February. Memories of summer washed over Fraidy: Miriam Walner in her terry turban and white Reeboks, Judy Kurtz playing tennis every morning. She was back in the country! A warm ripple spread through her. 

Miriam Walner caught her eye and headed toward her. There was something about the plastered smile and affected gait that made Fraidy brace herself; it was almost as if petite, 60-year-old Mrs. Walner were intimidated in some way by 32-year-old Fraidy. 

“Mazel tov, Fraidy,” she sang. “You’re looking beautiful — so fancy shmancy, like a real madame.” 

“Thank you.” Fraidy’s smile was polite enough. What exactly makes me look like a madame? I’m not even wearing my serious jewelry — not to this wedding! 

“I saw your mother and your sisters already. We’re all at #12, that’s the country table.”

Photo: Shutterstock

Fraidy smiled in thanks and walked into the noisy ballroom, scanning the tables for the familiar faces. She hadn’t seen Malky since the Chanukah party two months ago. And Duvid’s wife, Chaya? Funny how Lakewood could seem so far away from Monsey. Mommy she had seen; she and Tatty loved the new guest suite and came every few weeks. 

She saw Mommy from afar, waving sunnily. Warmth spread over her once again. 

Malky pulled back a chair. “Hi, you look stunning, as usual. And we saved you a seat, don’t worry.” 

Rivky was on her phone but looked up with a smile. Fraidy put a napkin onto her chair, and chose a dinner roll from the almost empty basket. She handed her rings to her mother and walked off in the direction of the sinks. Over the din, she could hear Malky’s voice. 

“Whoa, I want to see Fraidy’s new setting. Pass it here a minute.” 

The ripple of warmth was gone.

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