| Treeo Serial |

Remember Me: Chapter 3

No one is coming back tonight. They’ve left, okay?

It’s almost too quick, too simple.

One minute I’m standing there, gesticulating urgently in front of the bookshelves, and the next minute the men are… gone.

They must have looked at each other, communicated somehow. Decided it wasn’t worth—

Wasn’t worth what?

I’d threatened them with something ridiculous: waking my mother and calling the police. To do that, I’d need to leave the room, and they were nearer to the door than I was.

Two men. Middle of the night. Soundproof room.

And me, a 13-year-old kid, no weapons, no phone, nothing.

Why did they leave? How did I just scare them away?

I don’t get it, but all of a sudden, I’m ice cold. The house doesn’t feel safe anymore; if those men could get in, maybe others could? Like…

Like the people who emptied the study in the first place, maybe?

My thoughts are tumbling too fast. I need to quit thinking and just act, do something, anything.

First: Make sure they’re really gone.

I open the study door. It’s dark in the rest of the house, just as dark as I left it. I check the front door. It’s bolted and chained from the inside.

The back door doesn’t have a bolt, but it is locked. Did they have a key? Did they get in a different way, a window, maybe? Or… something prickles at the base of my neck… are they still inside the house?

All I want right now is to forget about searching the study, leave it all behind and go back to sleep. But I know one thing for sure: These men will be back. They’ll come another night, or when I’m back at school, but come they will.

And if there’s anything of Abba’s left to find, I’m determined that they won’t be the ones to find it.


This time around there’s no faint wave of excitement, no tingle of anticipation as I open the door to the study. This time, I do it with sheer determination and grit, because I have to; I have to find anything that’s left before I lose the chance forever.

I lock the study door behind me, though I’m not sure what for. Clearly, the intruders knew how to pick locks. Still, it could buy a few seconds, right?

No one is coming back tonight. They’ve left, okay?

I press my lips together. Forget those men; I have work to do.

I start with the desk. There’s nothing on its surface, and when I check the drawers again, to make sure I’d seen right the first time, they’re still empty.

The bookshelves.

It’s slow and tedious work, pulling out seforim, checking behind them, inside them, and then replacing them on the shelf. Every so often, a page or two flutters down, mostly photocopies of mareh mekomos, probably from shiurim on relevant topics. Some of the pages have interesting-looking notes, nothing I can actually understand, but I put them to one side anyway.

Maybe I’ll work them out someday.

Until then… well, Abba wrote them. It’s his handwriting. And that’s like… well, I just want them, anyway.

And then I’m done, shelves disappointingly free of hidden treasures. I sit back down at the desk. I’ve never seen it so empty. Even when Abba did one of his cleanup sprees, trying to get everything “mesudar — organized,” as he’d called it, it hadn’t looked like this. Nothing on the desk, nothing in the three drawers…

Wait. Three?

A memory bubbles up to the surface, a scene in this same room, maybe five, six years ago… little Yair jiggling on Abba’s lap, thrilled to be allowed into the inner sanctum to “help Abba clean up,” and Abba making it a game, handing over different items to put away…

“This sefer goes on the…”

“Middle shelf! I see it, I see it! All the other red ones, and there’s a space for this one!” I shriek, and tumble off Abba’s lap to put the sefer away.

Abba gives a round of applause. Then he holds up a small sheaf of papers, stapled together.

“And this goes in the fourth desk drawer,” he says.

Fourth desk drawer.

So something is missing. Something is hidden.

I open the third drawer, scrabble around with my fingers. There must be a false bottom here, a secret compartment where the missing fourth drawer should’ve been. My fingers touch a circular protrusion in the smooth wood. I press down and feel something release.

The bottom of the drawer slides away, revealing a secret compartment underneath.

Inside are a stack of notebooks.


I’m not sure whether to be ecstatic — I’ve found something, something Abba hid and whoever took everything else didn’t find it — or disappointed. Just notebooks, after all that? No special machines, no interesting-looking tech inventions, no… no files containing his work… just a few small-sized notebooks?

I flip through. Most of the notebooks are filled with divrei Torah, thoughts on the parshah, chiddushim on whatever Abba was learning, all titled neatly with the date.

The last notebook, at the bottom of the pile, is different.

The cover feels like it’s made of metal. In the lower left-hand corner, it’s etched with Abba’s name. It looks expensive, and it also looks used: Some pages are a little crumpled, and there are smudges here and there, like ink that blurred from writing too fast.

But inside, the pages are utterly, completely empty.


I take all the notebooks anyway, along with the pile of random papers I’d found. Balancing it all carefully, I close the lights, lock the study, and replace the keys.

When I’m safely back in my room with not a sound from my mother or sisters, I breathe again. And then I head for the window, move the curtain aside just a crack and look up, down, right, left.

There’s nothing to see on the road outside. No suspicious shadows, no cars lingering with engines purring and headlights switched off.

What did I expect? Seriously, the guys aren’t going to be hiding in plain sight waiting for me to leave so that they can break in again.

No, they’ll come tomorrow. Or the next day, when I’m back in school….


My stomach drops.

School. It’s part of another world, a world before… before everything changed.

The things that mattered back then, things like mesivtas and farhers and the principal coming to yell at boys for clowning around in English, they just seem puny and ridiculous now.

Who even has the patience to go to school?


And then, after what feels like an eternity but also, far too short, we get up from shivah.

We take a walk round the block, Ima, Rikki, Tehillah, and I.

There are no more visitors, no more noise and bustle.

The front door is locked, the signs of the visiting hours taken down from the door. Back to regular life, huh?

Regular life. Without Abba, not at home, not at the end of the phone line, not with him far away but knowing that in a few days, a week, next Shabbos, he’ll be back.

Stop going there.

As we turn onto our block, I see two shadows slip out from between the houses and disappear in a waiting car.

“Did they just come from behind our house?” I ask.

Ima is unfocused. “What? I didn’t see anyone.”

But I did.

And I know who they were, and what they were doing around the back of our house, just when it was empty for the first time in an entire week.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Treeo, Issue 998)

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