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Learning Curve: Chapter 34

Gila Arnold

Aviva and Suri decide to make one last attempt to persuade Yael to come back. Yael refuses, and throws away the flowers they sent her as a thank-you gesture

Wednesday, February 08, 2017

I t was the first Jeren monthly Melaveh Malkah since Yael had quit, and she’d been begging Ephraim all week to let her feign illness. Ephraim wouldn’t hear of it. The Melavah Malkahs were sacrosanct — as she well knew. Rina had once shown up to one a mere hour after being discharged from the hospital with baby number four. And anything Rina did, of course, was the gold standard for the Jeren siblings.

Yet Yael couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something else at play in Ephraim’s insistence she come. That his obstinacy was, subconsciously, a form of punishing her. A way of saying, you made your bed, go lie in it.

Though nearly four weeks had passed, her husband had still not gotten over it.

Her father-in-law was in a particularly expansive mood tonight.

“Nu, how’s the fashionista?” he asked to his eldest daughter. “I hear Ivanka showed up in Washington in a Rina’s exclusive.”

Rina laughed. “Not quite, Tatty, but baruch Hashem, the word’s getting out in the right places. My designs are becoming crazy in-demand.”

Yael focused on her braised salmon. She knew from experience that Rina could keep up a conversation singlehandedly for quite some time, and that was just perfect as far as Yael was concerned.

But after a few minutes, Rina got an emergency call from the babysitter, and Tatty Jeren, after smiling beneficently at the crowd, chose to zoom in on Yael.

“So, how’s the clinic coming along?”

Yael reddened. Across from her, Ephraim gave her a slight shake of his head.

“Uh, fine,” she stammered.

Her father-in-law grinned. “And the star OT, how is she doing? Getting lots of clients I bet, huh?”

“Oh, yeah,” Yael said again. And she was. If you called the star OT Naomi.

She prayed silently for her father-in-law to move on to someone else — hey, hadn’t Chayale gotten some sort of promotion recently? — but he seemed set on her.

“One of the best investments I’ve made,” he said, leaning back, and Yael could tell he was trying to give her a big compliment. “Building that clinic — well, look how much good you’re all doing.”

Yael murmured some sort of assent. But something irked her about his words. Best investment he ever made — yeah, that was the one where he forced Aviva and Suri to give her a job. Where he decided to take her employment into his own hands, because apparently he didn’t trust her to get a decent job herself. And no good Jeren should be without a good job.

But she didn’t say a word of this, of course. Instead, she forced herself to smile, to throw out some vague line about all the children who were being helped, and to thank Tatty yet again for his generous donation to their center.

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