"This is weird,” Rivky said, her tone mild in a valiant attempt to mask her tension. 

“Be careful what you wish for, like all those times you said that you haven’t seen me for breakfast since sheva brachos,” Chaim said, sitting across from her. He was feeling strange, like when the numbness begins to wear off after a visit to the dentist.

 

“So,” he said, picking at a scrambled egg, “it was a good meeting. Dovi did it all by himself. We agreed to use Naftali Korn to mediate, but we didn’t even need him. We left the rav out of it, and”—he paused before answering her unasked question—“Mendy didn’t come.”

“And?”

“And nothing. I’m still fired, though they’re making it early retirement. We’re actually pretty rich.” He laughed.

Years earlier, Rivky once asked him, “So, are we like, rich?” and he’d given her a lecture that made her regret the question.

Now, she was caught off guard. “Rich?”

“It could be worse, is what I mean. Besides the investments and all that, I’m walking away with a sweet deal. Dovi was shocked that I didn’t want to keep my clients. He expected me to open up on my own. Once he heard I wasn’t planning that, he was ready to do anything. We’ll be okay, b’ezras Hashem.”

“But how do you know you won’t want to open your own office? What are you going to do?”

“Now? Finish the scrambled egg, probably. Then maybe I’ll have a coffee.”

Rivky tried to smile.

“We’ve got to tell the kids. I think this is pretty significant. You want to talk to them? Should I? Who else do we have to tell?”

“Rivky,” Chaim burst out, “come on! You aren’t expecting triplets! This isn’t ‘news’ that you have to go running to your sisters with, you know?” Now that he’d found a reason to be angry, he wasn’t letting go so quickly. “Unless this one also goes to the friends list?”

Once, she’d confided in him that she kept mental lists of different types of friends — neighborhood friends, old school friends, bungalow colony friends, and so on. He’d teased her about it for a while, and he knew it wasn’t fair to bring up now, but he couldn’t stop himself. “Maybe pull out the bungalow colony list for this, too, you know: Poor Chaim is out of a job — gasp, nebach, what happened, I thought he was good at it, what will he do now, at his age… all of it.”

There were tears in her eyes. “Oy, I’m sorry,” he sighed. “I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.”

She reached for the phone. He knew he’d hurt her and calling the kids was her form of therapy.