Hello, America by Livia Bitton-Jackson

Hello, America by Livia Bitton-Jackson

Author:Livia Bitton-Jackson
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Simon Pulse

Chapter Thirteen


On Sunday Alex is taking me to a performance of The King and I—my first Broadway show! For the occasion Mother sews a white blouse with ruffles and a long black skirt from pieces of fabric Aunt Celia has given her as a present.

“Stunning!” Alex exclaims when I open the door, and he virtually snatches me off my feet. “You look simply stunning! My compliments to you, Frau Friedman,” Alex says to Mother. “You deserve double credit—for the beautiful outfit and for the beautiful daughter.”

Mother acknowledges Alex’s compliments with a wan smile. Poor Mommy. I sympathize with her predicament. Ever since her operation she is in a quandary about Alex, walking a tightrope between her true appreciation for Alex’s help and her concern about my relationship with Alex—in short, “complications.” I know Mother, being candid by nature, would love to show her gratitude effusively but worries about Alex misinterpreting it as an endorsement of our romance.

“Thank you, Herr Doctor, for both compliments,” she says formally. “May I reciprocate by offering you a slice of fresh kuchen before you leave?”

“I apologize, Frau Friedman.” Alex returns Mother’s formality with a courteous bow. “But I must decline. We are a bit behind schedule.”

“Then accept this instead.” Mother draws from the shelf a large box of Barton’s chocolates and hands it to Alex. I had told Mom that Barton’s were Alex’s favorite chocolates, so as soon as she returned from the hospital she purchased a box of bonbons and has been waiting for the right moment to present it to him.

Alex’s face lights up with childlike delight.

“Thank you Frau Friedman!” he exclaims, and happily clutching the chocolates under his arm ushers me out the door.

Before turning on the ignition Alex rummages in the car’s glove compartment. “Where are they? Darn it . . . I must have left them at home. I bought you opera glasses for tonight. Let’s make a quick detour to my house. I want you to have them tonight. Opera glasses are great fun.”

In less than fifteen minutes we are approaching the square brick house on the corner of Fiftieth Street and Thirteenth Avenue. “What’s going on there?” Alex cries in surprise when he notices a small crowd at the entrance of his house. He deftly parks the car and approaches them at a run.

“What’s happened?”

“Oh, Doctor, Frankie fell off the swing and is bleeding from his head.” The mother moves closer with the sobbing little boy, his head wrapped in a towel. “Thank the Lord you’re here!”

“We came here first,” the father explains excitedly. “Before taking him to the emergency room at the hospital, just on the off chance that we might find you in.”

Alex casts an apologetic glance in my direction, and unlocking the front door he swiftly shepherds the family into the waiting room, then beckons me to follow him and the sobbing child into his office. After closing the door behind us, Alex flashes me a hurried glance. “Elli, I’ll need assistance.


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