Israel Book Shop presents Chapter 21 of a new online serial novel, Without a Trace, by Esther Rapaport. Check back for a new chapter every week. Click here for previous chapters.
“My sister’s husband left town right after Pesach and just returned this week. So you can understand why she didn’t want to leave the house for no special reason. If she would be able to visit my parents, that would have been a good reason. But if they’re not here, and it’s only me…”
Shevi and Elinor didn’t respond. One candle went out with a little pop, leaving behind a scented, yellow waxy residue. Chasida asked if either of them wanted some chocolate milk, and tried to get them to eat the last two calzones, but both Shevi and Elinor declined.
“If you think I can eat another thing after all this,” Elinor declared, “then you are majorly mistaken. Shevi, no dinner tonight, okay?”
Shevi smiled thinly in response. Chasida puttered around them like a big, generous bird who couldn’t sit still for a single moment—but only Shevi seemed to pick up on the loneliness in the aging nest. Miri gurgled on the rug that their good neighbor had spread on the floor for her; there was no expecting her to understand anything. And Elinor was also too young to understand. Not quite like Miri, but young nevertheless.
Chasida had prepared a fancy meal for her sister. Alone at home, she had cooked, fried, and baked industriously. She’d decorated the room with a youthful flair and had anxiously awaited the moment when her twin would arrive and they’d be able to spend some time together. But then her sister had informed her that she wasn’t coming. Their parents weren’t home; it was only Chasida there, and for only Chasida, it didn’t pay for Shoshi to leave her house and her husband who had just come home. And Chasida was left to eat everything she had prepared, along with her two guests, the oldest of which was about half her age. Keep Reading…