Hannah lifts the stool and puts it down just to Sarah’s side. She opens the seat to see the music. Beethoven. Mozart. Wagner
To my dear sister Becca,
A shadow falls over the cream writing paper. Hannah looks up. “Ah, Emmy.”
She reaches over and drags a chair next to her. “Where have you been?”
Hannah looks around. Felix must be home, too, for he generally chaperones Emmy to social events.
Emmy’s cheeks are blotched and her curls have escaped, so she looks disarrayed but quite, quite beautiful. And agitated.
“You are disappointed, Mama. In Joachim.”
Those eyes. They bore into her, searching for the truth.
What should she say? That she is disappointed in Joachim, yes. But she is more disappointed in Emmy. And really, most of all, she is disappointed in herself.
She places her hand over Emmy’s gloved one. Women lie. All the time. And the more they lie, the more lonely they become. But they do it because to tell the truth could fracture more than heal. “I think he is… a fine man. A man with leadership qualities.”
This is not a lie. He has a noble bearing, truly. A straight back. And leadership qualities — certainly.
“I would like to meet him. I would like to meet him and his family. Perhaps I could call on his mother.”
Something in Emmy brightens. “Would you, Mama?”
Oh, when Emmy’s face looks like this, she would snip the moon from the heavens and hand it to her daughter. “Of course.”
Emmy pushes back her hair, leans forward, and gives Hannah a light kiss on the cheek. Then she stands and skips away, as if she were a little girl again.
There is a simple enough way to assuage loneliness, Dr. Werther had told Hannah in the sanatorium. Human contact.
Sunday afternoon, after an entire Shabbos when loneliness felt like it had become part of her skin, present and painful in every smile, every handshake, every plate filled with chicken and kugel, Hannah laces up her boots. She picks up her umbrella, and when Emmy peers up from her novel, she tells her she’s going off, visiting.
Sarah Goldschmidt fills her batwing chair so thoroughly that it’s like the chair is a part of her, adding to the solidity of her presence.
When she sees Hannah, she gives a little flutter of her arms, half embrace, half a bird without wings. “Well, I never.”
“Sarah.” A slight bow of her head. She looks around to find another chair.
“Now why have you kept away all this time, when I heard you had returned? How are you, my dear friend?”
The velvet-covered piano stool catches Hannah’s eye. She could sit on any number of antique chairs, but the stool looks comfortable and less formal. Sarah follows her gaze.
“That old thing. Very well, if you must. But lift the seat and you’ll see there’s a hollow crammed full of sheet music.”
Hannah lifts the stool and puts it down just to Sarah’s side. She opens the seat to see the music. Beethoven. Mozart. Wagner.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 682)
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