| From A to Z |

From A to Z: Chapter 5 

I sniffed. “I’m worried. She’s so much like Yonah, it’s scary”


We were sitting there  when it started to drizzle.

“I want to go home,” Lali said. “I don’t like rain.”

“Me neither,” I said. “Let’s go find a roof to sit under.”

We got up, and Lali started walking purposefully. She looked like she knew where she was going, so I just followed her, annoyed at the dripping skies. The road was so long, and I was getting wet. What was Lali doing?

Suddenly I noticed a commotion near a building at the end of the road. There were women, men, police officers, and children milling about. I recalled someone telling me once that there’s some kind of school for special needs children there. Could it be Lali’s school?

Lali noticed the jumble ahead of us and her eyes lit up.

“School!” she shrieked, and started running toward the building. I ran after her. Everyone on the road stared, but I didn’t care.

Someone ahead of me shrieked “Lali!” and scooped the delighted girl into her arms, crying without shame.

A police officer approached me from among the jumble of people, tears, and umbrellas.

“Where did you find her?” he asked me.

“I found her in Green Lane Park,” I said. The police officer thanked me and left after taking down my contact information. It seemed like the whole school had been on wheels the entire morning, worried about Lali. I watched as the teachers slowly gathered the children into their classrooms. When the garden cleared, I saw a tall woman with a colorful bandana approach me, her eyes a little red.

“You found Lali?” she asked me.

I nodded. “She’s adorable,” I said. “Didn’t stop talking for a second.”

The woman looked at me strangely.

“What did you say, again?” she asked. Feeling stupid, I repeated myself.

“She told me her name, how old she was, and she told me how she ran away ‘all by herself.’” I smiled when I remembered the proud exclamation. I almost missed the expression on the face of the tall woman.

“Really?” she was stunned. “Are you sure?”

I stared at her.

She saw my confusion. “I’ll tell you why I’m wondering. In school, Lali does not talk. She never spoke outside her house to anyone but her mother, and she’s been here a while.”

She thought for a minute while I absorbed what she’d told me.

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Seventeen,” I said. The woman took down my phone number and my parents’ numbers.

“We’ll be in touch,” she promised. “Thank you so much!”

I turned to walk home, grinning, my bad mood forgotten.

My husband asked me what was on my mind today. I told him about Shulamis.

“She won’t read. She is determined not to listen to me. She doesn’t want to even try and help herself,” I told him. “I’m so worried about her.”

“You don’t want a repeat of Yonah’s story, is that it?”

I nodded, tears welling up in my eyes. “I don’t.”

My husband stroked his beard; he did that when he was thinking.

“It doesn’t mean she’ll end up where Yonah did,” he said. I swallowed, trying to avoid remembering the last time I saw my oldest son. Where I saw him, what he looked like.

“I know.” I sniffed. “But I’m worried. She’s so much like Yonah, it’s scary.”

“With Hashem’s help she’ll be fine,” my husband said. “The only thing you can do now is daven for her.”

My substitute job in the 11th grade would be over after Pesach. But I resolved not to forget Shulamis, and to daven for her every day.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 874)

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