Y ael sat at her kitchen table, alone. In front of her was her phone and a bag of potato chips. Every half a minute, she picked up her phone, hesitated, and put it back down. Then she took another handful of potato chips.

Inside, the voices resumed their argument.

How could you?

How could you not?

You’re a horrible person!

You’re brilliant!

You’re stuck, but good.

Can’t argue with that one, buddy.

She’d been rehashing the same inner dialogue for the past half hour. The chips bag was almost empty.

Stuck, but good. That, Yael knew, was the beginning and end of it. They were trapped, she and Ephraim, trapped in an untenable situation that she had placed them in and her husband saw no way out of. And, though he hadn’t said it outright, she knew he was deeply disappointed in her. It was that, more than any worry about her in-laws, which was driving her to carry out her plan. Her inspired stroke of genius. Her perfect way out. All it would take was one phone call.

So what if it was a low-down, nasty thing to do? Hadn’t Aviva and Suri been nasty toward her?

It’s for shalom bayis, Yael. Isn’t that one of the highest values?

She stuck her hand in the chips bag once more, but there was nothing left. She gritted her teeth, and picked up the phone.

“Hi, Tatty? It’s Yael.”

“Yael!” her father-in-law exclaimed, clearly surprised. She couldn’t blame him; she could count on one hand the number of times she’d called him on her own. “Is everything okay? Why are you calling in the middle of the workday?”

Yael closed her eyes. “That’s what I wanted to talk to you about. I wanted to… um… consult with you about something.” She dug her fingernails into her hand. “There’s been an… uh, incident going on, and I’ve decided to leave the clinic.” She spoke the words carefully. Technically, both statements were true.

“What are you talking about?” her father-in-law asked sharply.

“An incident which was unprofessional,” she said vaguely.

“Unprofessional? Do you mean illegal?”

She should have known she wouldn’t get away with vague. “Um, no. I mean, well, yes, actually — but not, you know, illegal in, like, tax evasion or insurance fraud, or something you get hauled off to jail for. I think.” She stopped, confused. Could you get thrown in jail for breach of confidentiality?

“Talk straight,” he said. “Are you in trouble?”

“N-no, not me personally, it didn’t involve me.”

“Who, then?”

Zalman Jeren was the consummate hard-nosed businessman, and when he set out to achieve a goal, there was no escaping or evading. Certainly not for his weak-willed, jelly-legged, insecure daughter-in-law.

And that was why, without ever intending to, she found herself relating the entire story as she’d heard it, down to every last name and detail. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 538)