| Dream On |

Dream On: Chapter 46   

ZeeZee had a feeling she’d met this lady before, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember where



ZeeZee blinked her eyes open, squinted, and then blinked again. It took her several long moments to remember where she was, and why there was so much hot pink filling her line of vision.

“Wake up, rebel girl. We have a bus to catch.”

At the sound of the familiar voice, ZeeZee opened her eyes wide as recollection returned.

Yesterday’s fit of recklessness. Ditching school to wander around Yerushalayim. Spending a defiant afternoon at Yad b’Yad. Going home with Ilana and crashing there for the night, to Ilana’s intense amusement.

“And here I used to suspect you of being a goodie-goodie in disguise,” she’d drawled, after she’d listened to ZeeZee explaining earnestly on the phone to Mrs. Hurwitz that her cousin had a major family emergency and needed ZeeZee’s help overnight. “Is your eim bayit really so thick that she bought that story?” she’d added.

ZeeZee had shrugged. “I’m not sure. But she’s cool that way.” Then she’d thought of the intense betrayal she’d felt when seeing Tammy working at Yad b’Yad right after she herself had been banned for practically her entire life, and her face had darkened. “Sometimes, at least.”

Now, she sat up, and immediately covered her eyes. “Why in the world did you paint your walls hot pink? Did you, like, want to blind yourself?”

“Or other people. Stops my family from coming in.” Ilana smirked. “Will you get up already? I have to be at work at ten. You still want to come with me, yeah?”

“You bet!” Now ZeeZee jumped up. “But I have no other clothes,” she remembered. “I’ll have to wear what I wore yesterday.”

“You can borrow from me,” Ilana said, nodding her head to her closet. She had a curious expression on her face — as if she were somehow testing ZeeZee.

ZeeZee closed her eyes. It was too early in the morning to think properly. But, no, she wasn’t going to wear Ilana’s clothes.

“You mean your Bais Yaakov uniform?” she said lightly. “No offense, but I’d rather wear my gross sweater from yesterday.”

Ilana’s lips curled. “Not such a rebel girl after all, huh?” She stood up and stretched. “Don’t have a heart attack or anything, but I also know how to dress like a good little girl.”

ZeeZee hadn’t looked properly at Ilana’s outfit, but now she laughed. Ilana was wearing a sweater and long slinky skirt. Not quite Bais Yaakov attire, but a lot more covered up than she usually was.

“Going frummie in your old age?” she asked.

“You trying to say I was ever not frummie?” Her eyes widened innocently and then she smirked. “Joking, this is called business attire. Ever hear of such a thing? Or maybe rich Brooklyn girls don’t need to work?”

ZeeZee slung her hair over her shoulder. “Don’t be an idiot. I babysit, remember?”

“Right, sorry.” For a moment, Ilana actually looked contrite. “Anyway, Devoiry — that’s the lady who owns the store — she insists on tzniyus clothing.”

“And you’re cool with that?”

“Yeah, ’cuz she’s so cool. You’ll see when you meet her.”

ZeeZee bent down and grabbed the clothing she’d thrown into a crumpled pile last night. “You sure she’s chilled with me coming along to work with you today?”

Ilana laughed. “OMG, yeah. She’s so overworked, she’ll take any help she can get. Especially free help.”

An hour later, ZeeZee was sitting on a velvet cushioned bench in the store on Shamgar, sipping a chocolate fudge milkshake from Katzefet and watching Devoiry at work. ZeeZee was fascinated by the way she dealt with customers; she had such a natural appeal, and she knew exactly the right things to say to get the ladies to trust her.

But there was also something else about her, something vaguely familiar. ZeeZee had a feeling she’d met this lady before, but she couldn’t for the life of her remember where.

At last there was a lull, and Devoiry wiped her face, took a sip of iced tea from her bottle, and sat down next to the two girls.

“Sorry we didn’t get to properly meet before,” she said to ZeeZee in Hebrew. “Thanks for coming here with Ilana to help out.”

“She speaks English,” Ilana said. “ZeeZee’s an American seminary girl.”

“Oh?” Now Devoiry was looking at her curiously. “What seminary?” ZeeZee was surprised to hear her American English.

ZeeZee squirmed. The chances of her little escapade getting back to the Shvilei administration were slim, she knew, but still, she preferred to play it safe. “I’d rather not say.”

Devoiry was still staring at her, but then her face relaxed into a smile. “No problem. I totally understand the need to escape every now and then.”

ZeeZee grinned back at her, while Ilana said, “Devoiry, can you, like, adopt me?”

Devoiry laughed. “Watch it, kiddo. I sure hope you’re not saying I’m old enough to be your mother. ’Cuz I’m totally not.”

“I meant adopt me for a younger sister.” Ilana winked. “Or an older sister. Whatever.”

As ZeeZee listened to their banter, she realized that this was the first time she’d heard Ilana speak without her cynical edge. ZeeZee didn’t know whose idea it had been to send Ilana here to work, but whoever had thought of it was a total genius.

The morning passed quickly, and ZeeZee even got to try her hand at imitating Devoiry’s technique with customers. (“You’re a natural!” Devoiry had said approvingly, after the lady purchased the teal scarf ZeeZee had recommended.)

At lunchtime Ilana encouraged Devoiry to take a break and get herself something to eat. “You can trust us to run things for 15 minutes,” she said, adding to ZeeZee, “She always forgets to bring food with her. Before I came, she’d go an entire day without eating a thing.”

Devoiry made a face, but hurried out the door. As ZeeZee unwrapped the sandwich she’d made at Ilana’s house, she said, “She’s really cute.”

“What did I tell you?”

The store phone rang, and Ilana reached out to grab it. ZeeZee looked up when she heard Ilana gasp.

“Is this a prank?” she asked in a shaking voice. “Because otherwise I’m calling the police.”

There was a pause, in which Ilana’s face turned pale, and her mouth dropped open.

ZeeZee raised an eyebrow as Ilana hung up the phone with a trembling hand. She shook her head. “That was the scariest prank call ever,” she mumbled.

Devoiry walked in at that moment. Her eyes widened when she saw Ilana leaning against the wall, looking ill. “What happened?”

ZeeZee shrugged. “She just got a prank phone call that upset her.”

“A prank phone call?” Devoiry looked at Ilana sharply. “What’d they say?”

Ilana straightened up, clearly embarrassed at having lost her composure. “It was some guy, and his voice was all deep and raspy, like in the gangster movies, you know. And he said, ‘Where’s the money? You’re already two months late in paying it back.’ And then—” She started trembling again. “Then he started saying all these insane things. ‘I know where you live. I know where you work. Don’t think you can hide from me.’ Those kinds of things. I told him I’m calling the police, and then he said, ‘If you do, you can say goodbye to your family.’”

ZeeZee sucked in her breath. “No wonder you were scared, Ilana. He sounds like a psychopath. I think you should call the police.”

“No!” Both girls looked up at the sound of Devoiry’s voice. She was as white as a ghost and was swaying back and forth. “I… I’ll take care of this. It’s… it’s… better to ignore it. Don’t get the police involved. Anyway…” She swayed alarmingly now, and by instinct, ZeeZee moved behind her to catch her in case she fell.

“Anyway,” Devoiry whispered. “That call wasn’t meant for you. It was meant for me.”

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Family First, Issue 764)

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