S

heva was surprised to find Mrs. Dickstein’s car empty. “Just us?” she stammered.

Mrs. Dickstein smiled warmly. “My children are grown and no longer accompany me on Shabbaton. My husband had to stay with his yeshivah.”

Sheva nodded awkwardly and climbed into the front seat. “Thank you so much,” she began. “For the ride, and also for your help with seminary…” She trailed off.

Mrs. Dickstein didn’t reply immediately. She merged carefully onto the highway and moved into the left lane.

“Was that why you changed your mind about attending Shabbaton?” she asked mildly. It was a gentle question, not intrusive.

Sheva hesitated. She could say yes, agree with Mrs. Dickstein’s simple assessment, and leave it at that.

Or she could tell Mrs. Dickstein the truth. She had helped her so much, after all; she knew most of the story already, and with the haste that Sheva had made these plans — could it hurt to talk it over with a teacher?

Sheva’s experience had taught her that it could hurt…

The car thundered down the highway and as the wind roared in her ears Sheva heard herself say, “Sort of… It’s more than that though…” She stopped again and swallowed. “It was Adina,” she blurted finally. “It was Adina who got me into seminary. Ari Silvermintz is not her father, he must be a relative or something, and the only way he could have known anything or done anything is if Adina told him. So… so I’m coming to Shabbaton… to talk to Adina.”

Mrs. Dickstein nodded and smiled. Sheva relaxed. Miles of highway unspooled in uncomplicated silence.

“One thing bothers me, though,” Sheva said suddenly.

“Hmmm?”

Maybe it was because Mrs. Dickstein’s eyes were on the road that Sheva felt safe enough to say what came next.

“Mrs. Brandweis…” She stopped, gauging Mrs. Dickstein’s reaction.

Mrs. Dickstein didn’t flinch, just kept driving steadily.

“I know I went to Mrs. Brandweis,” Sheva continued, a little too loudly, like she was trying to prove something. “I know I started the whole thing, and I know I messed up. But Mrs. Brandweis is a teacher.” Bitterness laced her words. “She should have been—” Sheva caught herself. “Shouldn’t she have been more careful?”

Mrs. Dickstein did not immediately reply. “Careful?” she repeated finally.

“Yes, careful.” Sheva’s tone was heated now, but she didn’t care. “She could have asked me more questions. She could have been more discreet. She could have told me what she planned on doing and asked me for my opinion. Maybe if she had done any of those things, this whole mess wouldn’t have happened!” Sheva struggled valiantly to disguise the tears in her throat. “She should have been more careful,” she repeated. “She’s a teacher!”