Alternate Reality // She did not want to be confused with the facts

By Henny Fried

One evening, during that in-between time after camp ends and school hasn’t started yet, our family spontaneously scheduled a get-together at a local restaurant. I was talking to my mother on the phone trying to figure out whom I could get to babysit, when she suggested, “Why don’t you call Chaya Rosenfeld’s oldest daughter?”

Chaya Rosenfeld was technically my mother’s boss, but over the years the two of them had become fast friends and often did favors for each other. In fact, my five sisters and I always teased our mother that Chaya Rosenfeld could easily be her seventh daughter, given the age gap and the nature of their relationship.

I dialed Chaya’s phone number and asked if her daughter Elky would be able to babysit that evening. She had already been informed about our family get-together by my mother and was more than happy to be able to help. We confirmed that Elky should be at my house by 8 p.m. I typically don’t have a need for babysitters to watch my three little ones, and my younger sisters gladly fill in whenever I do. I was therefore somewhat apprehensive as I was getting ready to leave, especially since my baby had napped earlier in the day and was all cheery and upbeat, with no intention of going to sleep in the foreseeable future.

But Elky put me at ease as soon as she walked through the door. My toddler was immediately smitten by her kid-friendly smile and mannerisms, and I left the house with confidence, anticipating a great night out. Elky even assured me that I could come back at any hour, as there wasn’t any school the next day and she never went to sleep before midnight anyway.

Being together with family was a reprieve from the usual daily stressors. I relished every single minute, and so did everyone else at the table. The only one who was a little rushed to wrap things up and head home was our dear mother. The reason she was so anxious was because she didn’t want her friend to get upset if her daughter Elky had to babysit for so many hours. My mother felt it was her duty to be responsible, and she made sure we ordered dessert quickly, paid the bill and left the restaurant promptly. She literally had to shoo us out, and even insisted that I give Elky a nice tip and drive her home.

Chaya called me just as we were turning onto our block to ask when she could expect her daughter. I reassured her that she’d be home within minutes and thanked her profusely.


To read more, subscribe to Ami