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House of Mirrors: Chapter 3

Rachael Lavon

TEASER Reverberating off every wall thundered the slew of compliments Laylee eagerly anticipated reviewing under a cashmere throw and big cup of chamomile tea...

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

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Laylee walked out the last guests with a smile and then peeked into the living room. She found her father sitting comfortably with an open sefer in his hands. He’ll wait patiently until he can speak to us. Obviously.

Cassandra ushered the girls upstairs for baths, while Laylee’s mother busied herself with the caterers and cleanup crew in the kitchen. The event had been almost perfect, and reverberating off every wall thundered the slew of compliments she eagerly anticipated reviewing under a cashmere throw and big cup of chamomile tea... But the reminiscing would have to wait.

Her father, Norman Krugman, was a man with carefully acquired patience. He had honed his skills years before, chiseled and chipped away at the rough edges of impulsivity until he practically held spontaneity in the palm of his hand. He had learned at a young age to manipulate both the how and when of business and his skilled approach had made him wildly successful. Laylee understood his brilliance lay in his timing. She saw Gavi heading inside with a stack of chairs from the succah and felt a sense of dread. He’s going to call us over now, make us sit through one of his talks…extolling the virtues of careful preparation—

“Gavi, Laylee, come here for a minute.” Norman closed the sefer and beckoned from where he was sitting. Laylee tried to read Gavi’s face as they sat down on the couch opposite her father, but it was a mask of cool composure.

“Daddy, please, if this is about the shul, let me explain—” Laylee began.

“No, Leah Gittel. Let me explain,” he said, eyes betraying a rare frustration. He leaned back in the plush easy chair, running his hand gently over the fabric on the armrest.

“However noble your intentions, you’re not donating a shul.” He waited a moment while Laylee shifted uncomfortably under his gaze. “Blessed is the Eibeshter Who has provided me with means. Long ago, I took steps to ensure all of my children will always have funds to live off of, and of course, now that Gavi’s joined the company part-time, he’s making a fine starting salary. But a shul? We’re talking three to five million, depending on how this theoretical shul is built. You are in no position to be donating such a sum.”

“We weren’t planning on—”

“Ahhhhh. You usher in my next point. You weren’t planning. That, right there, is the ideology that brings people knocking down my door day and night, calling the office for an appointment, tapping me on the shoulder after davening. Grown men in their Ferragamo shoes, with Gucci wallets filled with plastic, leased BMWs glistening in the sun outside. Crying, Leah Gittel.

“ ‘We weren’t planning on making three weddings in one year. We weren’t planning on losing that 300 grand on a bad deal…’ Supporting that child. Losing that client. Not planning is the blight of today’s generation. I thought I raised children who understood that. We need plans for ourselves and plans for our children. My plan for you is that you don’t squander your money.” Norman stood up suddenly and walked toward a family picture sitting on an end table.

“I’m sure you have plans for Perla as well. Obviously you’ve consulted with the appropriate professionals regarding her… physical health.” It was less a question and more of a command. Laylee felt the air leave her body, as she sank deeper into the couch.

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