N orman Krugman closed the front door behind him, and turned to face a shocked Laylee. “Well, I’m glad to see you’re up. Gavi told me to let myself in as you’d probably be…” He paused, scanning the purple bags under her eyes. “Sleeping.”

Why is he here? “What a surprise… I wasn’t expecting you,” Laylee said awkwardly. Why? Why?

Norman glanced at Baila, still holding her egg in a glass. “I don’t want to interrupt. I have a few phone calls to make, I’ll be in the study.” Norman walked toward Gavi’s study and closed the door lightly behind him.

“I’ll go. I’ll just um… throw this out.” Baila walked toward the kitchen.

Laylee noticed her phone buzzing on the table. Gavi. She pressed talk. “Gavi, my father is—” she started.

“Laylee, I need you to focus for a minute, okay?” He spoke fast, panic in his voice.

“But—”

“Did we ever give Neil a gift?”

“Neil? The flooring guy on the zoning board? Um, we had him for a few Shabbos meals over the past year,” Laylee said slowly.

“Yeah, I know… That’s bad enough, since his wife decided to post about those meals on Facebook. Anything else?”

“I don’t know, I can’t think, you’re scaring me… what happened?”

“Redlick.”

Laylee’s heart dropped. “Is it bad?”

“He’s suing the city. Claiming the zoning variance was unlawfully obtained.” Baila suddenly walked in from the kitchen.

“I have to go, we’ll talk later,” Laylee mumbled into the phone, and then turned to Baila. “Thanks so much for stopping by, it’s always good to see you,” she said with a plastic smile.

“I couldn’t help overhearing you. Is everything okay?”

“Oh, that.” Laylee widened her smile. “It’s totally fine.” There you go, Laylee... Paint it all gold.

Baila looked slightly incredulous. “Okay, glad to hear.”

Laylee opened the front door and the two women stepped outside. Impenetrable, absolutely perfect, gild it so none of the rottenness seeps out… because you are perfect. And your husband is perfect. And your children are perfect and there is nothing. Wrong. With any of us.

Laylee felt lightheaded. “I mean...” she said quietly, “I hope it will all be fine…” She cleared her throat, relieving the sudden tightness in her chest.

Baila met her eyes. “You and your husband are such good people; of course it will be fine. Don’t forget, there’s a G-d and He’s taking care of us.”

Laylee nodded, gave her a little wave goodbye. Such good people we are... teetering on the very edge of awful. When did we stop doing things for the right reasons?

Laylee found her father standing near the staircase when she walked back inside. “I’d like you to take a drive with me.”

“I don’t want to go anywhere,” Laylee said, turning to the stairs.

“Even so.”

Laylee fingered the banister, turned around to face him. “Everyone thinks I should just get over it. But I am literally the laughing stock of the frum world right now. And those who aren’t laughing are screaming chillul Hashem. Me. People who are a chillul Hashem should stay home.”