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Dancing in the Rain

Faigy Schonfeld

Why did Kayla have to make her engagement so ridiculously short? Where is she running to?

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

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SEPARATION ANXIETY Jodie searches her daughter’s beautiful eyes. She gulps. “The shopping will get done. Now’s our chance to have a great vacation, before you go gallivanting off to Eretz Yisrael with your new husband.” Her words leave a bitter streak on her tongue

G lasses tinkle, noise swells, the heat and crush of well-wishers pressing in on her like so many knives — cut, thrust, cut.

“Jodie!” Nechama Katz from next door barrels through the throng of women, grasps Jodie in a rocking embrace. “Mazel tov! Where’s the beautiful kallah?”

“Thank you, thank you!” Jodie cries, hoping hysteria has not crept into her voice.

Nechama weaves her way toward Kayla. Jodie stares. Kayla looks so serene, joyous, thick copper hair falling in ringlets on her shoulders, her smile a wondrous thing. Jodie swallows, terrified. Her daughter, her baby, is a kallah.

Before anyone can grab her in a hug or pump her hand, Jodie slips away. Through the darkened hallway, up the steps, up, up, into her bedroom, flings open the bathroom door.

In front of the mirror, she stops. Why is she here? Her sheitel is sharp, fresh black curls framing her chin. She looks into her eyes; almond-shaped and deep brown. She waits another minute, breathes, waits.

Then she bends over and weeps into the sink.

*

“Twist, twist, kick!” Jodie cries into the mike, over the pumping music.

She flits across the room, straightening Libby’s arm, tilting Dassa’s waist, singing as the ladies mimic her moves. This aerobics class is her favorite, all energy and fun.

She stands by the window, watching the rain crash. Inside, she feels cracked, raw, aching for a nod, an assurance. Right. As if Levi can give her that

The class ends and Jodie dispenses high-fives. “Shira, I like your energy! Amazing job today, Malka! Nice sneakers.” She stretches, relishing the strain of hard work in her muscles. A stop at the new coffee shop is in order. The smoked cherry flavor seems intriguing.

Outside, Jodie pauses to inhale the winter; the air, cool bliss on her flushed cheeks. Her phone jingles. She stills. It’s Wednesday, shopping day with Kayla. Must she forget everything? Frustration leaks through her clenched fists. Why did Kayla have to make her engagement so ridiculously short? Where is she running to?

Cold fog fills her head. She smiles when she spies Kayla shivering beneath a store awning, her purple-and-gray plaid shawl streaming in the wind.

“Ma!” Kayla is pink-cheeked and eager. “How was your day? I’m starving. Let’s have a snack before we shop, ‘kay?”

Her anger deflates, leaving her empty. “Sure, sweetie, whatever you want. What does your fancy list say we do today?”

*

In the linen shop, Kayla fingers multihued fabrics, elaborate tapestries.

“You think, Ma?” she asks, holding up a crushed suede pillowcase, deep red and streaked with silver.

Unbidden come thoughts of her own linen sets, the ones she never used. Fuchsia with gold leaves; it had been love at first sight. Levi felt it belonged in a little girl’s room. And the burgundy swirl, a mishmash of bold colors. Levi said it was good for the gypsies.

“I think I’m going with this one,” Kayla says, holding up a gold brocade.

Jodie opens her mouth to respond, but something black and urgent twists in her gut.

“It looks great, Kayla, let’s take it,” she manages, and tosses a credit card in her daughter’s direction. Vaguely, she hopes that it’s the right card or Levi will have her head. What’s wrong with you?

Kayla leads the way out of the store, beaming, bearing her enormous bags full of fresh linen and promise. One more minute of this and I’m going to scream! (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 545)

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