Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 22 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
A note landed smack in the middle of Nava’s desk. She shoved it over to the corner and continued to gaze at Morah Dinner, who was explaining the calculations of the days of the Mabul. Miss out on Morah Dinner’s riveting explanations? Not her.
“Open it already, Nava!” Batya whispered. “Devoiry’s getting upset at you!”
Nava didn’t bat an eyelash.
“Not now!” Nava whispered back and turned her concentration back to the board, trying to focus on the subject at hand. Rafi had started learning Chumash Bereishis with Abba, in addition to Chumash Shemos that he was learning in class. She was supposed to study with him. The good thing was that Rafi loved learning with Abba, something she herself had never liked. What was the difference? Was it Rafi’s constant need for attention? Was it the special way Abba treated him?
Perhaps you should be a bit honest with yourself and admit that Rafi simply likes to learn. He sits and gazes at Abba with huge eyes as he listens to the lively explanations.
Sarah had visited yesterday just when they were learning and had observed them from the kitchen doorway.
“I can’t believe it! It’s just not the same child!” she kept exclaiming. “Yael, this must be an act, right?”
Nava had been offended by the question. Did she really think that they treated Rafi like a circus animal that performed on command?
“An act?” Ima had asked with her soft, calm smile. “You’re invited to come every evening to watch them. He always listens like this, and sometimes even better.”
“Yes, I know that he feels better when I’m not here,” Sarah said and retreated into the kitchen. “Are they supposed to finish in the next few minutes? I want to speak to him a bit. By the way, what’s that bruise on his face?”
Nava bit her lip. What did it matter? Didn’t normal kids fall sometimes? What was the social worker so worried about? Did she think they abused him in their home?
“That bruise? We were also wondering about it,” Ima had answered with her unflappable composure. “He said that he was running and had bumped into the wall. What do you think? Can we believe that?”
“No one called to complain that Rafi had attacked their child?”
“Not at all.”
“So you can be calm,” Sarah said wryly. “It must really be a bang from the wall. I don’t remember this child ever being hit and taking it sitting down. If you haven’t heard any complaints, then it’s likely that no one hit him. I can’t believe how much he’s changed in a month and a half! Since when did he ever obey anything?” Keep Reading…