I run straight to the elevator and race out to the street, yelling “Zalman! Zalman!”

“Mmmeirrr.” He’s so happy to see me, you’d think it was daytime instead of the middle of the night.

“Zalman,” I cry, tugging his arm while I steer him over to the sidewalk. “Don’t you know it’s dangerous to walk in the middle of the street? A car might come and run right over you!”

Zalman just smiles and hugs me. I sigh. “Come on,” I tell him. “Let’s go home.” Zalman trots beside me all the way to his house three streets away. He waits patiently while I knock on his door and ring the bell.

The front door is flung open by Zalman’s panicked parents. “Zalmy! Zalmy!” If any of their neighbors were asleep, they’re sure awake now. “Where have you been?” his mother demands, pulling her son into the house and looking him over as if to be sure nothing is missing. “Hatzolah and the police are searching all over for you!”

There’s an officer in a uniform standing behind Zalman’s father and mother. His expression is stern as he looks me up and down. “Who are you, young man?” His voice is deep and official. I squirm, because it feels like he suspects me of committing some kind of prank.

After writing down my name and address the policeman peppers me with questions. I shift from foot to foot. This isn’t the welcome I expected when I brought Zalman home. “Did you see any strangers on the street?” he barks, and I say, “No, sir,” but I’m wondering if I should tell him about those two Arabs that were following me.

A few more questions and my interrogation finally ends. The officer looks disappointed. I suppose I wasn’t very helpful. I really haven’t the faintest idea why Zalman was on my street at that hour of night. “Maybe Zalman just wandered off by himself?” I suggest.

“Never,” his father declares. “My Zalmy is a good boy. He would never go out without asking permission.”

“Mr. Zaltz, I suggest you lock your doors at night and hide the key,” the officer says, stifling a yawn. “If your son tells you anything new about what happened, call me.” He hands a business card to Zalman’s father. I am about to go back to my house when the policeman calls my name. He hands me one of his cards. “If you hear any talk among your friends that would help us understand why young Zalman disappeared, let me know.”

“You don’t think he just decided to go out on his own?” I ask.

“No. It is possible he was enticed by someone with evil intentions. Keep your eyes open, and report to me if you see anyone who doesn’t belong in your community.”

I bite my lip. I see suspicion on his face. The policeman knows there’s something I’m not telling him.

“A few times this week,” I admit, “I saw a black car with two strange men in it in our neighborhood. A friend of mine says they’re Arabs.”

“What were they doing?”

“Nothing really, but it seemed like they were following me.” I feel foolish. I sound like a little kid with a big imagination.

“Did they talk to you?” he asks.

“No. I ran away before they had a chance.”

The officer’s expression is skeptical and I don’t blame him. “If you see them again, it won’t hurt to call me.” Then he adds, “Try to get the number on their license plate.”

“I will, sir,” I promise. “I’d better get home.”

He nods and I run down the stairs and out to the street. At home I have to explain the whole thing to my parents. They’d just seen me fly out the door without understanding why. Abba says he’s proud of me, but I should have taken a second to explain where I was going. I apologize and go to bed.

The following days are routine. We don’t see the black car or the Arab strangers again. Maybe my wish came true and they’ve gone back to wherever they came from?

Shabbos was the perfect opportunity to get to know Yael. She’s not hiding from me anymore. Now that she accepts me, Yael trails me around the house. She watches everything I do and then copies it. She’s really cute. Ima plans to enroll her in kindergarten soon.

“Could you take Yael to the park for a little while?” Ima asks when I come home from school. “It’s a beautiful day, and you both need fresh air after being cooped up inside all day.”

I don’t mind. One of the perks of having a little sister is showing her off when anyone we know passes by. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 697)