A nother call from the Center. What has Effy got into this time?

“Hello,” Aviva says, a sigh embedded in her voice. She tenses, goes into steel mode: defender, protector, knight.

It must be Leora, Effy’s key worker…

“Hello, it’s Mrs. Wilsen here.”

Oh. Why is the head of the Center calling her? Are they sending Effy home?

Things had gotten off to a rough start this year, with last year’s key worker having moved to Israel. Effy doesn’t like Leora, she’s a firm one. But really, had things spiraled all the way to the top?

“…an event, a fundraiser, this winter, Chanukah time,” Mrs. Wilsen is saying.

What, no Effy, no problem?

She flops down on the couch.

“An evening of creativity, showcasing talent in our community. For the main program we’re going to have three artists compete on stage, paint a picture in an hour… We want all the entertainment to be, uh, home-grown.” Mrs. Wilsen sounds quite pleased with her choice of word.

Aviva leans back into the leather of the couch. “That’s nice.”

Mrs. Wilsen clears her throat, “We were wondering if you could play your saxophone?”

“How do you know I play?” she blurts.

Mrs. Wilsen laughs. “Effy told us.”

Kids.

“I’m not sure if I’d call on his word alone, though.” She chuckles. “But I heard you played a couple of years back at the Bnos Binah event.”

Had it been two years? The sax was gathering dust in the closet.

She would take it out, buff it, insert the reed, and play, play, play.

“I’d be happy to,” she says. “What do you have in mind? A certain song, a theme…” “Anything,” Mrs. Wilsen says. “It’s an evening of expression, of pure talent.”

“Anything?” She repeats, the freedom filling her, making her itch to play again.

“Anything that’s not a nursery rhyme,” Mrs. Wilsen says.

Anything?

The sun throws columns of light onto the couch through the blinds. She knows she should get up, get supper going, but the warmth stripes her feet and she stretches back into the couch until it’s reclining. Anything…

Jerusalem, 1997

“A boat ride in Akko. That’s where everyone’s going….”

“Who’s everyone?” Rena asks. Already her eyes are blazing challenge.

Oh, please, it’s the beginning of the day, I don’t have energy for existential questions.

“Whoever stayed for Succos. Sari and Leah and Avigail, y’know, the chevreh. C’mon, Rena, we missed their bus already. Let’s go, it’ll be fun.”

They take the bus up to Haifa. It flies through the dust, jostling and bumping. The long journey unkinks something in Rena. She’s talking and talking, riding on angst. “And they’re all gonna have so much to say. What’s up with the hairdo, Rena? Your earrings are too long, too weird…” She mimics their voices with scorn. But Aviva is her friend, she can hear the lace of hurt, too.

She listens to the spurting volcano with half an ear, half a heart. She knows Rena, gotta let her vent and she’ll fizzle into calm. She’s like that. At least she thinks she still is. She’s not in the same seminary. Obviously. So maybe she doesn’t know what she’s like these days. (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 567)