“S hifra?!”

She stood there looking better than ever. Glossy hair, the sort of wing-tip eyeliner that I never dare try, and shoes that looked like they cost as much as Susanna’s diamond, but her mouth, so straight, so stressed.

She walked past me and threw herself on the couch. Drama much? What was up? Wasn’t she still fuming at me after the shower debacle?

“I know I’m supposed to be mad at you — and I am,” she started. “But really I know that it’s not you, it was the situation, the environment, the everything was not for you, what could I really expect… well, I tried to prevent it, but you wanted it.” She was rambling. “But whatever, I need you, so even though you owe me a huge apology, and I’m sure you’ll do it eventually, and of course I’ll accept, but in the meantime, I need you.”

She looked me in the eye. What was going on?

After a few minutes, she said, “I can’t do this.”

“Do what?”

“I can’t marry Ari.”

I froze. “What? Why?”

She stopped talking for a few minutes, laced and unlaced her fingers, and then looked me straight in the eye, almost like she was begging me. “I have a black-tie event I need to attend for one of my clients.” She paused dramatically. “And I don’t want to take Ari.”

“So don’t,” I said.

“You don’t get it,” Shifra said. “I should want to, but I don’t.”

“What does that mean?”

Shifra sat upright, stern, like she was going to lecture me. “Listen, this is what happened. I got the invite, the plus one, the client requested that I please, please come — been through a lot with this one. So I tell Ari, and he gets all excited, he’s never been to these black-tie things, wouldn’t know the difference between a cravat and bow tie. I don’t think he even knows what a cravat is, and I realized, this is not how it’s supposed to be.”

I made a face. “I only know what a cravat is because we read too many of those English Victorian-era books, so cut Ari some slack there.”

“Okay, this is going to sound very vain and egotistical—” she started, then stopped. I waited.

“So, I’m type A — that’s old news. I’m all the clichés — ambitious, hardworking, aggressive. I have a great career, I’ve started a gemach, and am involved in other community projects. I do things. I make things happen in my world.”

I nodded. Yes, Shifra, you are all those things, and yet, you’re still Shifra to me, but go on, I thought.

“I always thought I’d marry someone like me, and we’d be a power couple. We were supposed to be the new movers and shakers.”

“And now?”

“And now I’m marrying a guy who’s just not that — at all.”

Honestly, I didn’t get the devastation — maybe because the idea of a power couple who like to socialize and broker deals and change the world is kinda creepy and the thing my nightmares are made of — but…

“How do you know that?” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 569)