T here is a series of erratic thuds coming from the downstairs study. Disturbing. Mendel looks up from his sefer, finger tightening over the place.

It couldn’t be—

A clatter, like something (something?!) has fallen to the tiled floor. Mendel bolts to his feet.

“Esther? Who’s in the study?”

From the kitchen, running water and the hum of the microwave preclude any reply. Leaving the question hanging in the air, he dashes down to the basement to find out for himself.

There is no one in the house. Only him and Esther, Chaim and Gittel — and of course, Yisroel Meir.

Yisroel Meir.


He staggers to a halt at the entrance to the study, panting hard. He is too old to run like this.

He peers into the seforim-lined room, his gaze taking in the table to one side, the enormous drum set holding its place of pride in the center — and the invader who has no right to be there.

“Hey! What are you doing?”

His grandson looks up, startled, but does not loosen his hold on one drumstick. The other is vibrating quietly against the floor, sound dying in the silence. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Succos 5778)