| Serial |

Trust Fund: Chapter 23

Uch! Weren’t urgent summonses supposed to be things of the past, now that they were independents?



there anything more fun than being on the outs with your in-laws and then having your daughter take up a hobby that they detest?

Asking for a friend.

Libby sent the message to Akiva, smirking.

The phone pinged. Yes. Having brunch with them, while they speak constantly about said detestation.

Immediately, she texted back. You win! Better you than me.

Rolling eye emoji. Nice try, wife, they asked that you join for dessert.

Uch! Weren’t urgent summonses supposed to be things of the past, now that they were independents?

But Rav Richter had reiterated that anything that could cause a lack of shalom should be avoided at all costs.

She couldn’t really put cozy slippers and sipping coffee on the couch above shalom, could she?

Hmm, could she?

She shook her head resolutely. No, no, she could not.

“…andit’s just so uncouth. She’s such a lovely girl. If she’s musically inclined, we have Mrs. Ivanov. She taught all the children piano.”

“Trudy from the office’s son is a virtuoso, I’m sure he knows someone who can teach her violin.”

Akiva dug into his yogurt parfait so forcefully his spoon went flying; globs of yogurt splattered all along the table.

Thank you, Daddy, Mom.”

Libby gave him a look; he toned down the sarcasm. “Deena likes drums. Not violin, not piano, not the tambourine. Drums. And we are parents who support her and want her to succeed at what excites and inspires her.

“And did we tell you that she’s now playing in a heimish band? They call themselves Chrein.”

And then he stuck a large spoonful of yogurt in his mouth to prevent himself from saying another word.

Libby looked across the table. Dassi was back.

Ma sniffed about letting go while on vacation; the only thing that looked different about Dassi was the weight she’d put on.

Libby glanced at Menashe; he was guffawing at something on his phone, absently squirting syrup over his waffles as he scrolled.

Dassi was impeccably made up, but underneath the concealer was a young face, showing signs of strain and exhaustion.

She sat primly, far from everyone else.

“How are you?” Libby murmured.

Dassi looked at her sideways. “Great, baruch Hashem,” she said politely.

Libby gave her a questioning smile, and the mask slipped off.

“It’s been really hard, actually,” Dassi shared. “I missed the kids and my husband, and I feel stupid. How did I let this happen?”

Libby looked away. “Because your husband’s family is an actual pressure cooker” was not the answer anyone was looking for, so she said nothing at all.

“You’re lucky,” Dassi said suddenly.

“Who, me?”

Dassi nodded. “Yes.

“You know, right after I began rehab, I begged Menashe to do it. I told him it was the only thing that would make me well again. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t do it. Not even for me.”

These last words were murmured so quietly Libby almost didn’t hear them. Her sister-in-law’s tone was so defeated, she almost didn’t ask, but Libby couldn’t help herself.

“Do what?”

Dassi’s gaze traveled across the room, to where Libby’s husband was eating yogurt with more force than necessary.

“To ‘do an Akiva.’ To leave it all behind. But he couldn’t, so here where are.”

She shrugged lightly, and like the good Frankel she was, a mask of polite indifference settled over her face.

ITwas a sea of boxes. Good thing their basement was huge; they needed all the space they could get.

“Maybe we can hire people to unpack these?” Akiva said doubtfully.

Libby’s shipment had arrived from the port, and it looked like the foreseeable future was going to be devoted to unpacking boxes from China.

Libby shook her head. “No. We need to feel the quality of fabric on each and every piece, in every size. If we’re promising people fashion and frugality, we need to ensure that they are genuine top-tier pieces. Plus, we can’t afford to hire someone, Akiva.”

She ripped open the first box, then gasped.

“Keevs! Look at these, they’re perfect.”

She reached into the box and pulled out the most gorgeous little quilted bomber jacket in hunter green.

She felt the quality, rubbed the material between her fingers, checked the lining. “Incredible. At least in a—”

She squinted at the tag. “Size 120. Gotta love Chinese sizing. Okay, now we just need to check every other size, to make sure it holds up. Who’s excited?”

Akiva looked so woeful, she couldn’t help laughing. “You did a lot, you schlepped all these boxes down here. Go take a well-deserved break, I’ll start by myself.”

She waved away his feeble protests and, plopping on the plush rug, she eagerly pulled a box closer.

BYthe next day, her arm was starting to ache from slicing open boxes, and she was cross-eyed from examining stitching, but she headed downstairs and started up again.

Hours later, Akiva bounded down the steps and skidded to a halt when he saw her.

“Libby! I had no idea you were still here, I thought you went to do carpool.”

Libby looked at him, mouth open. “Carpool? Omigosh, is it time for pickup?”

She stood up hastily, a pile of tissue paper sliding off her lap. She swayed and steadied herself against a side table.

Akiva ran to help. “Whoa… Libby, did you eat or drink anything at all in the past five hours?”

She brushed away his concerns. “Akiva! Carpool! Everyone’s stranded!”

He nodded and pulled out his phone. “Hi, Mom. Can Robert pick up the boys? Thank you so much.”

He shrugged at Libby. “A guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. Now let’s get you some water.”

He ran over to the basement refrigerator and pulled out a bottle of water. She nodded gratefully and gazed around the room, eyes half-lidded. There was still so much to be done, but every limb was aching.

She sniffed as her eyes filled with tears. “Akiva. It’s too much. I can’t unpack all the merchandise and examine each piece. Physically, I just can’t do it.”

Akiva poured her a cup of water and she drank thirstily.

“Libs, of course you can’t. But I’m here now. We got this.”


To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 991)

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