A ster snatches up a broken quill from her father’s desk and marches outside into the courtyard. A light rain is falling and the ground is damp and springy. She crouches down and draws her quill across the earth. She rises, stamps her shoe over the line, so that it disappears again.

She leans over, then kneels, heedless of the earth that will cling to her clothing. She draws another line, stretching her right arm wide and drawing the quill through the earth. Another line, at an angle to the first. She sits up, looks.

She has drawn the perimeter of the Call. Furiously, she sketches in the streets: Carrer de Monti-Sion, where the Shamash lives. The Shamash who will not help her. Carrer de la Crianca, where the Parnas lives. The Parnas who will not help her. Street by street, she stabs the quill into the ground, pulls it through the mud. Carrer deis Jueus, home of Mose ben Isaac — how far the distance between his house and their own? The beit knesset, where all the men gather to learn and pray and sing and meditate.

And no one there is able to help them.

She draws the trees outside their home, outlines the vegetable market and shades the eastern gates of the Call, the Porta de l’Abeurador del Temple, that lead to the rest of the city.

Then, tired suddenly, she rests back on her heels. Before her, a map of the Jewish quarter.

I look to the hills, from whence does my help come?

Nowhere on earth.

Nowhere here in Mallorca.

From inside, she hears Papa’s reedy voice, humming. He must be sitting in his study, trying to start his work. She looks at the map she has drawn.

No, there is no place she can expect to receive help.

Though her hands are smudged with dark mud, she brings them to her face. Aster rocks back and forth on her heels as she sobs.

When the tears cease, she feels lighter. Her legs ache and prick and she feels unsteady as she hauls herself up to standing and wipes her face with her sleeve. There is a dullness in her chest, but she forces herself to step into the house, hoping that Clara is not present, that she can have a few moments to compose herself. As she steps into the house, she looks down at the ground. The rain has continued falling and the lines of her map have been filled with rainwater, so that the streets and houses are defined by a shining river of gray.

The parameters of her helplessness.

For a long time she stands and stares, until she has a vague feeling that she is no longer alone. She looks up, expecting to see Regina, a complaint on her tongue. But it is not Regina, but Jocef who hovers in the house. She looks, but cannot see his face, as the rain has banished the sun and the inside of the house is bathed in gloom. Jocef. Again Jocef. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 555)