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Trust Fund: Chapter 20

You and me both, Libby thought, eyeing her brother-in-law in disgust. You and me both



e’d tried to stick to his principles, he really had. But despite the eyesore of the horrendous pink, Akiva found he couldn’t stay away from Deena’s drum set. So he kept reminding everyone that they no longer accept over-the-top gifts from family members, then tried not to feel like a hypocrite as he happily pounded away.

Deena found it hilarious that her father could play because he was actually surprisingly good at it.

“Where do you think you got all of this raw, unbridled talent from?” he asked, as he adjusted the snare. “You’re welcome, child.”

Deena rolled her eyes but grinned; Akiva smirked. She was a fun kid. Was this a new development, or had he never really taken the time to get to know her? He resolutely shooed that thought away; not going down that road today. He knew where it led — depression and sadness, guilt and pain, and long drives that usually ended with him buying a doughnut from Kosher Korner.

And since he wasn’t having pants custom made anymore, it seemed a shame to have to go buy new ones.

Deena stole a stick from him and they tried to play at the same time, but they ended up whacking their fingers and cracking up.

Libby suddenly appeared in front of them, a smile teetering on her lips at the sight of the two of them spending time together.

“Can a tone-deaf person enter these sacred grounds?” she asked, bowing her head.

Deena nodded regally; Akiva grinned at her from his stool.

“What’s doing?”

Libby looked at her watch. “We need to leave, like five minutes ago.”

He looked at her. “To dinner at my parents’ house? Oh, I’m so excited. Let’s rush over there as fast as we can,” he said deadpan, not moving.

She glared at him with a not-in-front-of-Deena look; he grimaced and dropped the sticks. “Yup, gotta run. We’ll be back soon, Deens, thanks for babysitting.”

“No drumming till we get back, I want you to be able to hear the kids,” Libby threw over her shoulder.

They heard mutters of “slave labor” as they hurried up the stairs.

“Should I tell her that I did all the laundry in my house when I was growing up?” Libby asked as they hurried out to the garage.

Akiva smirked as they slipped into the car. “Nah, don’t want to traumatize her delicate soul.”

They laughed, and he sped down the block.

Dinner was lovely. The perfect ambiance of guilt and blame, delicately combined with duck confit and citrus fennel rice. Akiva held out his wine glass more times than necessary; Libby made a mental note that she was now the designated driver.

Dassi was still in Miami “having work done,” of course, so Menashe was flying solo, but he seemed fine.

Ma even commented on how cheerful he was. He laughed at that and gave her a kiss as he went to refill his plate from the buffet.

Akiva looked at Libby and gave a subtle grimace. She choked on a laugh. They never used to do this; they used to actually be a part of the scene instead of just playacting it.

And then dessert came out, classic poached pears with ice cream, Daddy’s favorite, and the gloves came off.

“Meira, tell us what you’re up to with the hospital wing,” Ma said, cutting into her pear. She then turned to Akiva. “Meira is decorating the new wing.”

“I know, Ma, I speak to Meira almost every day.”

Apparently, Ma didn’t hear him. “And Menashe is extremely busy at the company. As is Donny. Everyone in the family works together. That’s what families do. They help each other. Support each other.”

Libby watched her husband’s ears turn bright red, then the muscles in his jaw twitch. But to his credit, not a word passed his lips. What he did do, though, was turn to Menashe, eyebrows raised.

Tell them, Libby silently urged her brother-in-law. Even if you can’t tell them about Dassi, tell them how Akiva has been helping you day and night.

She held her breath.

But Menashe just looked down at his phone, tapped away mindlessly.

“Too much cinnamon,” Ma said, pushing away the pear. “I’m disappointed.”

You and me both, Libby thought, eyeing her brother-in-law in disgust. You and me both.

It’s hard to entertain children ranging in various ages on Chol Hamoed. It becomes a lot harder when your extended family keeps uploading photos of Erev Yom Tov in Cancun to your Frameo.

After the fifth explosion from Deena about how everyone’s living it up while she’s stuck with no plans for Chol Hamoed, Libby did what she should have done a while ago, and unplugged the digital frame.

“I am so sick,” she said to Akiva, “of the word Cancun. I never want to hear it again in my life.”

“I shall slash it from every encyclopedia,” he said solemnly, eliciting a little chuckle.

She was worn out.

Making Yom Tov from scratch was proving to be exhausting and daunting and just plain stressful.

But she definitely was enjoying aspects of it. She’d gone to the material store and purchased swathes of stunning floral fabric. She’d even purchased beautiful paper goods, because there was no way she was washing all of those dishes by herself.

Akiva handed her a glass of seltzer; she drank thirstily. The kitchen was hot and steamy, and she was so tired. She closed her eyes and dreamed of wide-open spaces, green trees, and vast fields. She wasn’t sure if she was awake or asleep but she jumped up and said, “Road trip!” so loudly that Akiva almost fell off his bar stool.

“Libby! You scared the living daylights out of me.”

“I’m sorry. I know, that was so random. But I just figured out what we’re doing this Chol Hamoed. The Frankels are road-tripping. Together. A low-cost, every-cheesy-tourist-attraction road trip.”

Akiva looked at her. “Uh, is that a thing?”

She nodded, all exhaustion forgotten. “Oh, it’s a thing. And we’re doing it.”


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 988)

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