C hana greeted me so warmly you’d never have known we’d just met. “It might take a while,” she said. I sat down and frowned. Is she gonna talk to me? I hope she doesn’t talk to me, I don’t have what to say and this Daniel stress is not helping my social show.

“Should I go home and come back?” I asked.

“No,” she assured. “I say a while, but really I have no idea; it could be sooner. Also you want to be here as soon as Rabbi Ciner’s available — makes you look better, like a super-involved, responsible parent.” She smiled. I threw my hands up in surrender.

“My Yaakov went through a rough patch a couple years ago, some kids bullying him about his weight. We switched classes and gave him karate lessons,” she offered, her voice softer.

I leaned forward. “That worked?”

“Took time, but yes.” She nodded too much, probably he was still giving her trouble.

“That’s not Daniel’s issue. He’s upset about the move and doesn’t want to integrate. I think he thinks if he’s bad enough, we’ll move back.”

“Will you?”

“No.”

“Hmmm, maybe if he didn’t make friends but someone made friends with him, he’d slowly realize he isn’t miserable…”

I shook my head. “I’m not making him into a chesed case. Besides, no kid wants to be told to become friends with someone. And then, if he’d find out….”

“I get it.”

A kid came in with a request for copies. Chana turned to the behemoth machine and stood there a moment too long before she fed the papers. She turned around. “Onto different and happier things. You never told me what you do. Stay-at-home mom, working from home?” She looked at me brightly.

“I’m a custom fine jewelry designer.” I said it quickly, because most frum people look at me differently after I tell them, like it’s too artistic.

“Oh, wow, so you like make engagement rings and stuff.”

“Yeah. And stuff,” I added vaguely.

“Do you have pictures of your work?”

She sounded genuine, so I shuffled in my bag for my phone. I keep a photo file of all of my work, but it was usually just for the people Rafi convinced to look at my work. I held out my phone.

She took it and studied the picture before moving on to the next.

“Whoa, this is like, real stuff, not like dweeby, ‘I string pearls.’ ”

That made me laugh. She brought the phone close to her face. “Can I afford you?” she asked.

“Probably not.” I bit my lip. Too harsh.

“Fair enough. If I know any baronesses or heiresses I’ll send them your way.” She had this lightness to her that let me forgive myself a faux pas. “So, I’m a fancy school secretary if you haven’t noticed,” she said, winking.

“I’ve noticed. How’s it going?”

“Honestly?”

I nodded.

“Hate the job, love the people.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 558)