When she was completely confident that Esther’s eyes were on the game, Ahuva dared to glance at her watch. Not even three? She held back her groan, then stole a quick glance at Esther, still focused on the game board, eyes intent on her card, tongue tight between her teeth.

Just move the dumb piece! Ahuva didn’t say. Instead, she smiled brightly. “You got a six, Esther? You’re so lucky! I keep getting twos! Let me know when it’s my turn!”

Two rounds later, Ahuva had had enough. “Want to play Spot It, Esther? Or Banana Split?”

Esther shrugged. “I like Sorry.”

Figures, Ahuva thought. And if she were being fair, it was the fast pace of those games that appealed to her and made them feel like homework to Esther. She sat back, resigned. At least Sorry lent itself to daydreaming.

Sari clattered down the stairs. “Hi, Ma! Can I go?”

Unwittingly, Ahuva looked at the silent door, then at her watch. Three thirty. “So soon? Bnos isn’t until four.” Don’t leave us! she didn’t say.

“Yeah, but Leah said that if we come early we can see her nephew — he’s by her for Shabbos! And Shiffy and me need to pick up Rachelli because she also wants to see the baby, and—”

Ahuva bit her lip. She had no reason to say no, it was just... “Yes, you can go,” she said quickly, before she could say— before she could think anything else.

Sari’s face lit up. “Thanks so much, Ma!” She turned back. “Uh, Esther? Do you want to come? We’re going to Leah first to see her nephew, but after that we’re going to Bnos.”

Esther shook her head, a firm no, her eyes never leaving the game board.

Ahuva’s heart twisted. Was it with pride at Sari’s offer, or pain for Esther’s refusal? She didn’t know. Was Esther worried about being a third wheel, or loath to walk with her younger sister? Or maybe, Ahuva smiled wryly, maybe Esther really did just love Sorry. It was so hard to tell.

Besides, there was still plenty of time. Dina and Malky walked to Bnos together every week, and Malky lived practically next door, and this week she’d swallowed her pride and said something to Perel Markowitz about how Esther hated walking alone, and so hopefully soon the girls would knock and—

“Ma!” Esther’s voice broke into her thoughts. “It’s your turn for forever!”

Ahuva felt bad, really she did, but even the most patient of mothers had her limits, and five rounds of Sorry was a reasonable one. She’d declared a half-hour moratorium on games and was curled up with a magazine. Esther was lazing on the couch, a book upside down on her lap — Ahuva supposed that it wasn’t fair to expect her to read it — and the little ones were competing over their Magna-Tile towers.

“Ma!” Dovi called. “Someone’s knocking!”

Ahuva tensed, then looked at her watch. Three fifty. She took a deep breath. “I’ll get it!” She flung open the door, then stared with dismay at Rachelli Ehrenreich.

“Hi, Mrs. Flamm! Can you tell Sari that I came to get her for Bnos?”

“Oh, she left already. I thought she was going to pick you up.”

“She did? Oh, right, we wanted to see Leah’s baby! But we ate by the Kohns and just got back and… uch! I wanted to see the baby, Leah says he’s heaven!”

Ahuva forced a smile. “I’m sure he is. I’m sorry they missed you.”

“Maybe I’ll go back with Leah after Bnos. Thanks anyway, Mrs. Flamm! Good Shabbos!”

Ahuva stayed by the door until Rachelli’s pink sweater had rounded the corner. She left her magazine on the coffee table and settled back onto the recliner. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 551)