At nine PM the doorbell rang. Molly ran to answer it half expecting to see a beggar; they were the only people who rang on doors. Instead she saw Asher in his best suit with Rahely at his side. She hadnt seen Rahely until now. There had been on exchange of photographs .She felt a wave of disappointment. In her mind she’d imagined her as like a movie star, Nicole Portman or a very young Natalie Wood. The girl she was looking at wasn’t bad looking, smooth dark hair, a wide face, small eyes a decent figure, not skinny and not fat but she was tiny, almost a midget. They’d have short children.. Molly sighed and then she opened the door.
“So nice to meet you”. Then she reached out and offered Rahely a hug. She wanted to appear warm, to accept this girl with her less than perfect features and size deficiency as if she were her daughter. The gesture felt forced, artificial, as if she were on the stage and not in real life, but what else could she do? She led everyone into the living room and for a few tense moments they sat down, she and Nahum on the coach and Rahely and Asher in the wing chairs. “Come have something to eat, to drink. “said Molly. Rahely shook her head. “Thanks but not right now.”
Molly felt slighted. Her new daughter in law had refused her food. Was that a bad omen.
“You know what, “said Rahely, Her eyes were full of light.”I can’t right now. I’m just too nervous. ” she giggled. “But it all looks so good . I’ll take some for later if that is okay.” Asher smiled at her approvingly. Through all those hours spent in hotel lobbies and at parks talking and talking had caused them to bond.
“Fine, ” said Molly . She liked the way that Rahely handled herself, quietly assertive and polite. Asher had chosen well. Rahely was a girl who knew her own mind.
As she folded the cakes into a napkin Asher rose and Rahely following ..”We’ve got to get going.”
The clock said 9:10— they had spent a total of ten minutes together.
“Isn’t she lovely. ” Molly beamed but Nahum didn’t return her smile.
“I hardly got a feel for her. I think this is moving a bit too fast.”
“That’s how it goes, They all do it like this.”
“Yeah but this is a big decision. I want Asher to take his time.”
“But look what a wonderful girl. Can’t you see how good they are together?”
“Frankly, I could hardly see anything.”
During her morning walk, Molly hashed the date out with Shulamis Black. “She seems lovely. I got a really good feel but Nahum …”
“Well this is a bit of a shock to his system. I’m surprised that you are taking it so well.”
“I really feel like I know her and I liked the chemistry. I’m just worried about Nahum.”
“Don’t’ worry,” said Shulamis as she bent down to retie her sneaker. “It’ll all work out. You won’t believe it but it will.”
As soon as she got home Esther phoned.
“This is getting serious,” she said. Her voice was tense and shrill.
“Yes he seems to care for Rahely. We met her last night and —
” Asher should think about closing ”
“Closing?” Wasn’t that a real estate concept?
“A ring, popping the question.”
“Yeah, already,” Molly’s voice quivered. Hearing Esther speak this way frightened her to the core.
“Isn’t this great,”
“Ummm, I mean Yes, ” said Molly. Her voice was cracked and low. This was what she wanted, worked for, hoped for , prayed for but as soon as she got off the phone she ran into her bedroom sobbing as she wrote in her journal. ”
I wish I could say that I’m crying tears of joy. I don’t know what kinds of tears these are, maybe tears of fear. Last night I felt so confident but now I’m just terrified. Rahely seemed sweet but they left too quickly. She’s a stranger. I really don’t know her at all. Oh G-d I hope this is a good move.
That afternoon Asher came home from yeshiva.
“It’s off. “His voice was flat, his eyes dull.
“What?” Molly threw her arms around him but he shrugged off her embrace.
“A problem with Rahely?” It seemed implausible to imagine them getting into a fight.
“No, we’re great. It’s her name. She’s called Rachel Malka . I can’t marry a girl with your name “Are you sure? “No ever calls me Malka ”
Asher settled down into the wing chair. She sat opposite him . Above them the ceiling fan noisily twirled the warm air .
“And it isn’t only that. Somebody told them about Grandpa Fred And they heard about Bella and Elazar.”
“Oy,” Molly held her fingers to her mouth and chewed on the tips of her nails. Over the past few weeks both Bella and Elazar took a turn for the worst. Her latest crime, being seen with a boy, according to her version of the story, Elazar’s friend to whom she had innocently delivered a package, had reached Rabanit Stark’s ears and she was expelled. To her credit, Rabanit Stark spoke softly “She cried. I think she really cares. I broke the school rule book and she can’t behnd the rules anymore,” Bella told her. Bella was actually looking forward to beginning a new school, a boarding school for rebellious girls in the fall and Molly was doing her best to be tentatively optimistic.
And Elazar, he left his yeshiva . He now spent his days delivering pizzas and waiting to be drafted. While she wept copiously at first Molly had almost adjusted. Part of her felt good to see Elazar applying himself to his job.
“They don’t have kids with issues?”
“Mom, you checked them out….”
“No, Their kids seem to be perfect but I’ll be that the other in-laws have kids like ours..”
“I don’t know but Rahely said that they are going to speak with their Rav” said Asher. Molly took his hand. It was twice the size of hers and covered with black hairs that stuck out like wires. How did her baby boy turn into a broken hearted man? “Can I get you something to eat or drink? An iced coffee? Some of the brownies. I’ve got plenty left.”
“No Mom, I can’t eat.” He sounded as if someone had died.
When Nahum came home from work he told Asher not to be sad. “It’s good to have a breather. Maybe she’s not for you after all. Maybe you’ll like the next girl much more.”
“Doesn’t Dad care “Asher asked Molly as he helped her set the dinner table.
“Yes of course he does but he never experienced a shidduch before. He doesn’t know how to react.”
“So I’m the guinea pig. again? The FFB child of BT parents “.
“We both want the best for you. Let’s wait and see how this plays out.”
Molly’s heart was clearly with Asher. He seemed to want this girl so much. From the moment he was born she’d always been a sucker for him. Less than twenty four hours ago she’d wept from fear but now she wanted was to see him marry Rahely. .