Mrs. Parnes plants the idea in my head, between Haggadah contests and helping-Mommy-clean-for-Pesach charts. I’m going to see Eliyahu Hanavi.

How he does it — flitting from house to house at the exact moment of Tzafon at Sedorim across the globe — I never grasp. In the part of my brain that’s still six years old, the concept of hovering spirits is one of the greatest universal mysteries, right alongside the law that Mommies know everything. Still, if my teacher says it, it’s true.

Mitzvos, just mitzvos. I need to do a bunch of mitzvos all day every day a whole year, and then I’ll see him, flowing white beard — of course he has a flowing white beard — and glowing face. He’ll wink at me, but I won’t wink back, because Mrs. Parnes says if you see him you’ve got to keep mum.

She tells us about tzaddikim who stood up to dance when Eliyahu Hanavi entered. They saw him and danced with him. Surely she means my zeide. I count the moments.

When my brother fills the huge silver cup, my insides flutter. One more minute. Now. The door will open, and everyone will stand up with utmost respect, murmur a reverent baruch ha’ba. Then they’ll chant Shefoch Chamascha. I’ll recite it as well, fervently, super careful with my kriah, because he’s here! In the room with me! Eliyahu Hanavi!

And maybe if I say it slowly and clearly, even if I don’t understand a word I’m saying, he’ll come into view, a glittering apparition, a tzelem Elokim.

I’m frightened silly and wish to decline the honor of opening the door for him. Eyelids glued tightly shut, I draw a tremulous breath and tug the door open.

Nothing. A chilly breeze, a car roaring past. Nothing more. As I return to my seat, my stomach sinks to my toes. It’s because me and Chana Leah didn’t let Miriam join our jump-rope game, that’s why. Also, because I didn’t listen to my mother and go to sleep right after bedikas chometz last night. I wanted to stay up with all my big sisters who were baking yummy cakes, it wasn’t fair. And now I can’t see him.

I blink back tears, eyes darting from my Haggadah to my zeide who surely sees him, surely! to the enormous kos in the center of the table. Inky purple ripples delicately, trickles over the rim with a soundless splatter, and he drank! I saw!

Granted, I didn’t see him, and true, my sister later confesses that she jiggled the table, allegedly by accident, but fact remains, I saw. Not him, but I saw his movement, I saw him drink. He was in our house, and the proof is in the bleeding stain on the tablecloth.

Every year, Mrs. Parnes’s promise reverberates in my heart. If I’ll be good, I’ll see him. Eliyahu Hanavi. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 537)