N aftali didn’t do his usual bit about the cost of crossing the Verrazano, the fake kvetch about the high price, and punchline about it being worth it to leave Brooklyn; he wore a pleased expression as he leaned on his armrest and spoke quietly to Etty.

“It’s a matter of patience,” he said, proudly, as if he were presenting a house to one of his clients. “Just getting over that hump, you know?”

“Yeah.” She wanted to lean back and enjoy the view, to pretend the Narrows was the French Riviera and she was somewhere beautiful. She wanted to, but Kivi was kicking the back of Chaya Malka’s seat and Hindy had squeezed an apple juice box drink too tight and sent sticky liquid spurting out. Nechama was sitting quietly, still smarting. Ari was suddenly too big for a family Chol Hamoed trip, but here she was, still trapped. With the babies. She hadn’t actually said it, but in her new teenagey attitudey eye-rolley way, she made sure her mother knew that she was so not okay.

As if Etty was okay with it.

This was Naftali’s triumph, his nachas-moment; his assurance that Ari would soon be the most popular guy in the class was well on its way to being realized. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Succos 5778)