She spoke to me like I was a child who didn’t understand her arithmetic. Anuradha grinned smugly
peeked into the showroom from behind the sewing room door. No Mina in sight. Fu.
There was only so long I’d be able to avoid her. If Mina was going to ask me about that gown again, I didn’t know what I would do.
Holding the raglan sleeves from the Fulop gown, I headed over to Anuradha. “Here,” I told her. “These are ready.”
She looked up from her babochka work. Gingerly, she placed the half-done butterfly on the shoulder area of the sleeve and shook her head. “No.”
“I told you that before you started. Keep the sleeves empty.”
She snickered. “I said, no, we need bigger titaliyon on the shoulders.”
I stared at her. Was she for real?
“Anuradha, this is an expensive gown. You’re ruining it.”
She stood up and wrapped fringed layers of fake silk around her arms. “Should we ask Yocheved?”
Before I had a chance to respond, Anuradha was gliding across the showroom, tapping Yocheved on the shoulder and inviting her to our meeting.
“Those butterflies again?” Yocheved asked tiredly.
“They’re killing the gown,” I said simply.
“Yelena, this girl is wearing her hair up. She has super narrow shoulders. She will look gorgeous.”
She spoke to me like I was a child who didn’t understand her arithmetic. Anuradha grinned smugly.
The doorbell rang.
“Oh, goodness,” Yocheved grunted. “It’s the Kramers again. And Mina is out for the day.” She gave an exasperated sigh. “I can’t deal with this. Yelena, could you please go to the door and tell them to wait a few minutes?”
I snatched Fulop’s sleeves out of Anuradha’s hands and marched off to the door.
As I was about to pull the door open, I paused. The Kramers. This was my chance, my second bridal gown. Because this family was never going to give Yocheved a deposit.
It took three minutes. They listened, took down my phone number, and sat down in the reception area to wait for Yocheved.
When I returned to the showroom, Anuradha was staring into my eyes.
I shivered. She couldn’t have seen or heard anything, that Indian. What was it about her that put my nerves on edge?
Pointedly ignoring her and Yocheved, I walked briskly to the sewing room. I sat down at my sewing machine, put the Fulop sleeves aside and leafed through my notepad to see which gown to work on instead. Then I settled down to work and didn’t leave my table for the rest of the day.
Anzel picked me up after work and we drove over to Mama for a quick visit. I watched Anna as she served my mother-in-law lentil soup. She didn’t ask about the chicken again. She didn’t talk much at all.
“We owe that girl a lot of money,” I told Anzel when we left.
Anzel sighed. “I’m working on it.”
What did working on it mean? Was he also sewing bridal gowns discreetly? I hadn’t heard about any road trips for a long time.
T’fu, how could I think this way? Anzel was trying. He definitely wasn’t spending money on luxuries. He put our household responsibilities before his own well-being, going around with a dead tooth.
But the first of the month was in three days.
(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 676)