Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 15 of a new online serial novel, Divided Attention, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © 2010 by Israel Bookshop Publications
Sarah didn’t have anything special to say, except for the regular little speech she made whenever she brought a child to a new foster family. Rafi already knew the routine by heart.
“So I hope he’ll behave nicely and be a good boy,” Sarah said, as Rafi’s face tightened. “And that you’ll be pleased with him. Just don’t forget his antibiotics—he needs to take it three times a day for another ten days. Rafi, I’m going. Now you’ll have a few days of vacation from me.”
Rafi had never heard of the phrase “Baruch she’petarani,” but that was basically what the unexpressed thought that passed through his mind meant.
The next thought was that Sarah was talking about a few days. Hah! Didn’t she remember that he always ran away?
The third thought was that it wouldn’t be at all easy to return home with this cast of his, which had begun to annoy him already. How would he manage to do everything on his own?
The last thought that flashed through his mind before the woman with the kerchief began to speak to him was that he would stay here in the meantime. When they took his cast and bandages off, he would leave.
“Hello, Rafi,” the woman said with a smile. “We’re really happy that you’ve come to us, and we hope it will be good for you here.”
“Did you have a lot of traffic on the way?” the man asked, and Rafi was unsure if he was addressing him or Sarah. In any case, he had no intentions of responding.
“No, the drive was actually very quick, but his discharge took longer than I had expected,” Sarah said. The woman with the kerchief offered her something to eat or drink, but Sarah turned the offer down. “No, thanks, I’m going,” she said. “See you, Rafi; good luck.”
Rafi stood just a short distance away from the door and thought about how simple it would be if only he didn’t have this cast. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a table covered with a tablecloth, with a bottle of cola, a plate of cookies and cake, and two glasses arranged attractively on it. They had probably thought that Sarah would sit and have a drink. They didn’t realize that she was simply counting the seconds until she could get rid of him.
The woman took the plate from the table and came to stand near him. “Look and see which cake you like,” she said softly. Rafi hated soft voices, like Sarah’s. This lady’s voice was a different kind of soft, but it was still soft enough to irritate him. What did she think? That he was a five-year-old who had to be spoken to like that? He looked at the plate and didn’t say a word.
The woman returned the plate to the table and asked him if he wanted a drink. Rafi continued to keep his mouth clamped shut. Then the husband approached him (and Rafi stepped back a little) and asked Rafi if he wanted to see the room they had prepared for him. When Rafi still didn’t respond, the woman and her husband exchanged a look between themselves. Then the woman said she was going to the kitchen, and the man said he was going to somebody named Myriff, or something like that. And then he left the house. And locked the door behind him. Keep Reading…