Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 of a new online serial novel, Beneath the Surface, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every Thursday or Friday. Click here for previous chapters.
Copyright © 2011 by Israel Bookshop Publication
Menuchi’s perspective, continued:
“Hey!” the girl said. “Hello!”
I turned around. “Hello,” I answered cautiously and looked at her expectantly. What would she think of my negligence? Had she noticed that the key was in the door—outside?
She had noticed. She took it out of the keyhole and placed it—
In her bag.
“I think…I think that that’s my neighborhood’s key, um, Chasya’s,” I said, stammering badly. All of my English flew out of my mind and I had to scramble for each word to form a coherent sentence. “She…gave it to me…and I think…that I forgot it outside.” I knew that I was blushing furiously. I could feel it.
The girl took the key out, looked at it for a minute and then at me, and then stuck her hand into her bag and pulled out another key.
“Oh, you’re right!” she exclaimed. “I’m always the last to leave and almost always leave the key in the keyhole. I thought it was mine!”
I smiled at her, my forehead and cheeks burning, and studied her with interest. She wasn’t tall, although she was still taller than me, and she had dark hair gathered into a curly bun.
“So Chasya gave you the key?” she asked, and I wondered if I should continue sweeping.
“Yes. She doesn’t feel well. She pulled something in her back.”
I went into the kitchen to put the broom away. She followed me. “Wow! You set the table yourself? So nice of you!” She had a pleasant laugh. “But you really didn’t have to bother. We usually just put a stack of each thing in the middle and the girls take for themselves. What’s your name?”
“Menuchi Ostfeld,” I said as I picked up the broom that had decided to fall. “And yours?”
“Adina Baumel, fromMiami.” We exchanged a few more sentences when I suddenly remembered about the lasagna. I dashed towards the oven. It was completely cold. Of course, Madame Ostfeld. If you don’t turn on the oven, it doesn’t usually turn itself on.
Once again the door to the apartment opened, and more voices filled the kitchen. I heard rapid-fire talking as I concentrated on the oven knobs. “This is Menuchi,” I heard Adina say. “Chasya hurt her back. She’s her neighbor.”
A few people suddenly stood behind me. I had no choice anymore. I pasted my broadest smile on my face and turned around. There were five or six girls there. They all said it was so nice to meet me and shared their names before disappearing into their rooms, still chattering loudly. Keep Reading…