| Serial |

Picture This: Chapter 4

He waited for the forthcoming, “Isn’t it?” but there was only silence on the other end of the line. Which was strange because Ma was Daddy’s biggest fan.


He tried to measure the space with his eyes. If the picture frame they’d bought the other day for their blown-up wedding photo was 24 inches wide and this window looked to be about one and a half the width of the photo….

“Maybe use a tape measure?” Estee suggested.

Yonah shook his head, mouth filled with nails. “’Ont ’eed to. Got it.”

He thought he heard her sigh but couldn’t be sure. The step ladder was rickety, left behind by a previous tenant, no doubt.

“Careful!” Estee cautioned. “Omigosh, Yonah, careful!”

He grinned at her and plucked a nail out of his mouth. He hammered in the curtain bracket and then stood back.


Estee grinned up at him. “Impressive. Between your spatial relations talent and your Pirchei record, we really wasted weeks of dating.”

He jumped off the ladder, eliciting a gasp.

“All those expensive lobby Sprites were a waste of money? Shame.”

They smiled at each other. Estee gathered up the curtains they’d chosen together, which was funny, because if you’d asked Yonah Rosen two months ago if he had strong opinions about living room curtains, he would have asked you what exactly you were vaping.

But for some reason, in the store with Estee, discussing couch colors and rug patterns, it had felt very important.

He filed away this realization for a conversation with his rebbi. Maybe he needed to review the guidelines of bittul Torah? In the meantime, though, he hung the curtains on the perfectly aligned curtain rod, and stood back to admire how the sheer cream really made the rug pop.

Later, after a delicious dinner of root vegetable salad — apparently, Estee hadn’t realized how much he hates beets — zucchini soup, chicken stir fry, French fries, and sorbet, he pulled out the ironing board.

“Est, you need anything ironed?”

She poked her head into the tiny second bedroom. She was wearing her glasses and looked about 15.

“My, how domestic you are,” she grinned. “Aren’t your shirts wrinkle-free?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, but like not really. Nothing like an ironed shirt, no?”

Her head disappeared; she reappeared moments later with a floral skirt. “If you can iron this, that’d be amazing, I wanted to wear it out to brunch with my sisters next week.”

He laughed. “You planned what you’ll wear next week?”

She looked puzzled. “Yeah, is that weird?”

Uh oh. “No, not at all!” he said hastily. “I have my Shabbos hat planned for the next three years.”

Her laugh was a bit forced. His phone rang just then; saved by the literal bell.

“It’s Ma,” he said, clicking on his Bluetooth. She gave him a thumbs up and a little wave and disappeared again.

“Hi, Ma.”

“Yons! How are you doing, sweetheart? How’s married bliss?”

He laughed, testing the steamer. “Blissful.”

His mother’s voice was warm. “I’m so glad to hear that, sweetie. We miss you here.”

He hadn’t lived in Boston since high school, but he knew what she meant. He felt further away now than he did when he was in yeshivah — although the physical distance was the same. Something about the shanah rishonah bubble was a tad isolating….

“Miss you, too. How’s Daddy?”

“Doing well, baruch Hashem. Busy, busy with the apartment. You know the hospital just got a new specialist, there’s a twenty-foot poster of him on the side of the building, a Dr. Samuel Locke, and nebach, people have been flocking over ever since.”

Yonah clicked his tongue sympathetically. Was he supposed to turn the skirt inside out to protect the pattern? He almost asked his mother, but then imagined the family chat blowing up over the adorable shanah rishonahness of it all and held back.

“So yes, Daddy’s very, very busy. Very. We’ve had visitors around the clock.”

The Rosens were very makpid to call the inhabitants of their bikur cholim apartment “visitors” as opposed to worried family members, as if the coming and going was about touring the historic city and nothing more. Yonah appreciated the sensitive-rich chinuch his parents had raised him with and knew it had impressed Estee when they were dating.

“That’s incredible, Ma.”

Growing up, he’d taken his parents’ chesed ventures for granted. But when he came to yeshivah, he soon learned that what he’d witnessed at home was highly unusual.

He waited for the forthcoming, “Isn’t it?” but there was only silence on the other end of the line.

Which was strange because Ma was Daddy’s biggest fan.


He tested the heat and then began ironing the skirt. Nice. It was coming along smoothly. He really was domestic.

“Ma, you still there?”

“Mhhm. Sorry, Yonah. I think I’m a little… tired.”

Which was a totally normal thing for a woman whose grandchildren were already becoming bar mitzvah to say, but Golda Rosen was never tired. Or if she was, no one would ever know.

Maybe that’s why Yonah dropped the iron and burned a hole right through the floral skirt his wife was planning on wearing next week.

Or maybe he just wasn’t that domestic after all.


She settled into her desk, feeling very aware of how she could actually feel the muscles relax when she finally stopped smiling. She couldn’t help it; Yonah had davened early, then they’d driven over to get coffee from Cookie Corner, drank in the car while shmoozing, and zoomed over to yeshivah and work.

Being married was really, really fun. At least 80 percent of the time. Like a constant party with your best friend. Albeit a friend who burns your favorite skirt. She laughed to herself. His guilt had been so dramatic and charming. She’d been annoyed, but it was hard to stay upset when he’d looked so crestfallen.

She laughed quietly to herself at her cheesy thoughts. Omigosh, Shani would make so much of her right now.

“Good morning, Mrs. Rosen,” Tammy Shafier trilled.

Estee grinned. Tammy was a good 20 years older than she was and a mother of six cuties, but you wouldn’t know it from her totally hyper personality. And she seemed to get a huge kick out of Estee being married.

“Busy morning?” she asked.

Tammy shook her head. “Not at all. I’m doing Sudoku, if that gives you any indication.”

Good, Estee had no patience for collation and copy machines right then. When she’d arrived back in America after seminary last summer, there were no teaching vacancies. Her high school mechaneches, Morah Abrams, had advised her to take the open secretarial position.

“This way, you’ll already be a staff member, and when a teaching slot opens, you’ll slide right in,” she’d said. And while Estee was an extremely efficient secretary, she also absolutely hated sitting in an office. If she was being honest with herself, she wasn’t used to being in the back room. She was a front and center kind of girl.

Sometimes, she’d look at the high schoolers laughing and shrieking their way through the day, and she’d think how pointless it all was. You can glow and sparkle all the way through seminary, but when real life hits, you can end up arranging buses for the Rosh Chodesh ice skating trip.

And honestly, that really wasn’t something Estee was down with.

She’d been tops in high school, in seminary, and in shidduchim. So why was she now spending her days with her eyes glazing over in the back office of a local Bais Yaakov?


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 1011)

Oops! We could not locate your form.