I stopped in my tracks. Where is Yael? The bathroom light is on and the door ajar, but I can see that no one is in there.

I step into the room and study it by the soft glow of my old nightlight. Ima really put effort into making this room into a nice bedroom to welcome our new foster child. Laminated picture books are lined up like soldiers on the shelf, and the heads and arms of a couple of dolls and stuffed animals are peeking out of the toy box on the floor.

I know there are bars on the window, because we live on the fourth floor and my parents are very safety conscious, but I check anyway. The blinds are closed and the pink Hello Kitty curtains are hanging symmetrically. Should I call my parents? It’s possible that Yael woke up in this unfamiliar bed and is just wandering around the house somewhere. If I can find her, I won’t have to alarm them.

I go from room to room, opening the doors and calling her name. “Yael? Yael, where are you?” but they’re all empty. I go back to her bedroom. Her bed is still empty. Hmm, there’s no blanket in sight. What could that mean? On a hunch I look under the bed and there she is, rolled up in her blanket and squished with her back against the wall.

“Yael?” I whisper but she’s fast asleep and doesn’t respond. I regard her for a few minutes. What could have happened to make her so frightened that she keeps hiding? She’s just a little girl. What could be so terrible in such a short life?

Should I go tell Ima or just try to move her back to her bed? I’m afraid she’ll wake up and be even more frightened to see me. I hear someone approaching and turn around. It’s my mother. She’s surprised to see me in Yael’s bedroom. “I just wanted to see her once more,” I explain.

Ima startles when she notices the empty bed. “She’s down here,” I reassure her, pointing to the floor.

“Oy, poor thing!” Ima bends over to better observe the sleeping child. “Help me get her out and put her back on the mattress.”

Together we slide Yael out from under the bed by pulling gently on the blanket. She murmurs something in her sleep but doesn’t wake. Ima lifts her onto the bed and tucks the blanket around her snugly. She blows Yael a kiss and we leave together. “Good night, Meir,” she tells me. Her voice is tired. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 692)