T he phone rang; with one hand Naomi reached to answer and with the other she instinctively reached for Simcha. She scratched behind his ears to the “Hello” and stroked his back when she heard the “No.”

“Why?” she asked. There was a nanosecond’s pause on the other end.

“I didn’t ask, so I can honestly tell you I don’t know. They said they heard nice things but, l’maiseh, didn’t think it was shayach.”

Naomi nodded and stroked Simcha deeper, curling her fingers into his fur.

“Thanks for thinking of us,” she said. “We really appreciate it.” The person on the other end mumbled a few more sorries and hung up. Naomi sat there inert, save for the methodical patting of the large golden retriever laying his head in her lap. Sighing, she took the dog’s face into her hands, locking eyes with him.

“Shuey is not going to be happy. I don’t want to tell him. And I’m definitely not telling Avi — he doesn’t even know about the shidduch.”

Simcha panted knowingly, then wagged his tail. Naomi exhaled. “You’re too good to me.”

Shuey called after supper.

“Did you get an answer yet?” he asked.

“Yes,” she said.

“A no,” Shuey intuited. Naomi sighed. She heard Shuey exhale in frustration. Simcha sidled up to Naomi instinctively.

“Is Simcha near you?” Shuey asked suddenly.

“Yes— How—” Naomi asked.

“He breathes so loud,” Shuey fumed. Naomi pulled her hand away from Simcha and gave him a small nudge to move on. (Excerpted from Calligraphy, Succos 5778)