Join The Conversation With Mishpacha's Weekly Newsletter

Freefall: Chapter 36

Miriam Zakon

Moe delivers a kosher food package to Rob Morgenstern — who turns out to be the rude woman from the train

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

T he children were coming!

Annie thought about Moe’s recent letter, describing his brief encounter with the orphans: I saw the children for a short while. They are certainly interesting. The little girl, Malka, is a dear, likes to read, is very polite and ladylike — Annie, she reminds me of you. But the boy! Apparently he keeps running away, won’t say a word to anyone, doesn’t listen to adults. Hey, he reminds me of… me! (Ha ha!) Good luck to you, Sis. I think your posting in this war may be harder than mine!

She shrugged away Moe’s warnings as she took a final look at the children’s room. Naturally the boy was upset — his mother dead, his father a soldier at war. But in a new place, making new friends, surrounded by warmth and comfort, the memories of that terrible night would fade.

Your memory of Mamma never faded. Ever.

Of course, she didn’t expect the children to forget their loving mother. No one could take a mother’s place; she knew that better than anyone. But with all the care they would get from the boarders, and Papa, and herself, they’d be fine.

For days, the hotel had been bustling with preparations for the “yesoimim.” The boarders, their energies fueled by their frustration at the many setbacks in the war against the Nazis — the reshaim who’d turned them into penniless refugees and who were reportedly perpetrating horrifying crimes against beloved family members who hadn’t escaped — had done all they could to make the two orphaned children happy. They’d lovingly set up a bright and airy bedroom for them.

Mrs. Sorscher, with memories of her lovely salon that the Nazis had looted and destroyed, knitted two thick blankets, yellow for the little girl, orange for the boy.

Mr. Eisen, whose favorite nephew had lost a leg in a U-boat raid, pulled himself away from war maps and built a sturdy bookcase in one corner.

Miss Bamberger, whose father, a respected doctor, had disappeared on Kristallnacht and never been seen or heard of again, bought cheerful framed pictures, which she could ill afford, of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck. (To Annie’s surprise, Yeruchum didn’t say a word about the goyishe images he’d never allowed in his own children’s rooms.)

Harry Cohn had laboriously walked down the boardwalk, returning out of breath but triumphant with two fuzzy brown-and-white stuffed dogs.

Mrs. Horn, of course, had busied herself in the kitchen, cooking up foods she felt the children would enjoy: peppers stuffed with chopped meat, fried chicken and mashed potatoes, salami and eggs, and a gorgeous mold with fruit cocktail shyly peeking out from the raspberry jello.

Aunt Cele, who’d heard about the children’s arrival during one of Annie’s rare visits, sent pretty lace curtains for the room’s large window.

Annie herself had, after a long day at the Yard, climbed up to the hotel’s boidem and found, in its dusty recesses, a box of the books she’d loved as a child. They fit perfectly into Mr. Eisen’s shelves.

And Yeruchum? The owner of the Freed Hotel was even more taciturn than usual, his brow furrowed with — concern? Sadness? The weight of responsibility for two young children?

No one, not even Annie, could say.

The Freed Hotel awaited its children.

Related Stories

Freefall: Chapter 35

Miriam Zakon

Colonel Cohn tells Moe that he needs him to help him understand the codebreaking work going on in Bl...

Budapest Silence

Faigy Schonfeld

I look at the shimmering blue Danube and all I can see is blood. In my head, faraway screams, whimpe...

Tichel Tales: Chapter 3

Gabriella Roth

Moe delivers a kosher food package to Rob Morgenstern — who turns out to be the rude woman from the ...

Share this page with a friend. Fill in the information below, and we'll email your friend a link to this page on your behalf.

Your name
Your email address
You friend's name
Your friend's email address
Please type the characters you see in the image into the box provided.

The Fortunes of War
Rabbi Moshe Grylak We’re still feeling the fallout of the First World War
Some Lessons, But Few Portents
Yonoson Rosenblum What the midterms tell us about 2020
Vote of Confidence
Eyan Kobre Why I tuned in to the liberal radio station
5 out of 10
Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin Top 5 Moments of the Kinus
Day in the Life
Rachel Bachrach Chaim White of KC Kosher Co-op
When Less is More
Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman How a good edit enhances a manuscript
It’s My Job
Jacob L. Freedman “Will you force me to take meds?”
They’re Still Playing My Song?
Riki Goldstein Yitzy Bald’s Yerav Na
Yisroel Werdyger Can’t Stop Singing
Riki Goldstein Ahrele Samet’s Loi Luni
Double Chords of Hope
Riki Goldstein You never know how far your music can go
Will Dedi Have the Last Laugh?
Dovid N. Golding Dedi and Ding go way back
Battle of the Budge
Faigy Peritzman Using stubbornness to grow in ruchniyus
The Challenging Child
Sarah Chana Radcliffe Strategies for raising the difficult child
Bucking the Trend
Sara Eisemann If I skip sem, will I get a good shidduch?
The Musician: Part 1
D. Himy, M.S. CCC-SLP and Zivia Reischer "If she can't read she'll be handicapped for life!"