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Although Bracha had lots of her own work to do, she knew that her mother needed her help with the little ones more than ever these days, and she good-naturedly got Rachel Ahuva and Saraleh ready for bed. In a short time, the two little girls were bathed and wearing their fuzzy pink pajamas, with their hair and teeth brushed. Bracha said Shema with both girls, tucked them in with their favorite cuddly teddy bears, and went to turn out the light.
“Bracha, just a minute, okay?” Saraleh spoke in her gentle voice.
“Minute, minute!” Rachel Ahuva echoed. She had taken lately to repeating her big sister’s words.
“What can I do for you, Saraleh?” Bracha asked.
“When is the new baby coming?”
“Baby, baby!” Rachel Ahuva repeated.
“When? We hope in a few weeks.”
“When is a few weeks?” Saraleh wanted to know.
“Weeks, weeks,” put in Rachel Ahuva. Bracha thought for a moment about that one. How to make little Saraleh understand the concept of a few weeks?
“Well, a few weeks from now, it’s going to be Chanukah. Some time around Chanukah, we’ll have a new baby in the house.”
“When is Chanukah?” Saraleh persisted.
“Chanu...Chanu....” This one was a bit much for Rachel Ahuva, but she tried her best anyway, thumping her teddy bear on the head for emphasis.
“Chanukah is in a few weeks,” Bracha answered, realizing immediately, however, that Saraleh still wouldn’t understand. How to make it clearer to the four year old? She continued with a smile.
“Remember, Saraleh, last year, when it snowed outside and we were cozy inside, and we lit menorahs, and sang songs, and ate latkes and played dreidel? That’s when it is Chanukah, and Chanukah is in a few weeks, and in a few weeks, im yirtzeh Hashem, Ima will be bringing home our new baby!”
“Oh,” Saraleh said, understanding at last. “Ima will have her baby when it’s going to snow.”
“Snow, snow,” Rachel Ahuva’s voice was getting sleepy.
“Yeah, something like that. Anyway, sweeties, your big sister has to go work on her project in genealogy, so good night, you two. Tomorrow you have a big school day!”
Bracha closed the light and headed to the homework room, where she settled down to begin the hard work of finding her illustrious ancestors.
Meanwhile, the Baker quints’ room was a hive of activity. The girls had decided to get started right away on their play production plans.
“Hey, Zahava, do you really have to empty our whole closet out onto my bed?” Yochie complained.
And, indeed, Zahava had been pulling out dresses and skirts and shirts and sweaters and almost anything she could find from the quints’ closets, seeking inspiration for the costumes that she was going to design.
“Sorry, Yochie,” she said apologetically. “But I want to catch the little girl’s poverty without making her look too awful. I guess I must have gotten a little carried away,” she added ruefully, looking at the immense pile of clothing on her sister’s bed.
“Hey, maybe we can change the play and put on the story of the princess and the pea, instead. Do you think a real princess would feel a pea under this mountain of costumes?” Dini asked with a grin.
“I don’t think even a fake princess would feel a motorcycle under this load,” grumbled Yochie. “Who’s going to clean it all up?”
“We all are,” Rivka assured her sister. “This is a Baker Quint Production, and we’re all in this together!”
And indeed, the quints did spend the next hours working jointly. Tikva wanted to change some of the lines, and Dini helped her sister with a dictionary and a thesaurus as she struggled to find the perfect words to express her ideas. Rivka sat strumming her guitar, trying out tunes that would add to the atmosphere of the play. Zahava began to make order out of the chaos of the clothing, planning and scheming costume changes. And Yochie began assembling a list of props that would be needed to set the scenes just right.
When the girls finished their night’s activities and cleaned up the wreckage of the room, they got into bed contentedly.
“Tikva,” Zahava murmured sleepily to her sister. “This is going to be the greatest quint production ever! Thanks for making it possible.”
“You really think Mrs. Reisner will say yes?” Tikva was still a little concerned.
“Absolutely, positively, and undeniably,” Yochie answered. “She won’t be able to help herself! All we need is to have Bracha get her attention, and ‘A Little Miracle’ will be put on - and we’ll be famous all over Bloomfield!”
“Stop dreaming about getting our names in lights, and start shutting the lights and dreaming,” Dini said. “It’s almost midnight!” And with a few more giggles, the quints settled down to sleep, satisfied with having finished a great evening’s work.
The Baker boys had passed the evening more quietly than their sisters. The three sat working in the homework room, looking up occasionally at their sister Bracha, who was moving ahead on her genealogy project. Chezky had finally begun to think about his Chumash assignment in earnest, and Donny was tackling a set of math problems, one of his first homework assignments.
Moishy had felt unsettled all evening. He tried studying for a geography test he was having three days down the road, but found that he couldn’t keep his mind on islands and peninsulas at all. He spent a few minutes researching some genealogy information for Bracha, but he lost interest in that, as well. He tried reading, but he found that he simply couldn’t concentrate.
“Guess I’ll just hit the sack early,” he announced to nobody in particular. Bracha didn’t even hear him, and his brothers just gave him a nod and a wave.
Moishy lay in his bed, staring at his ceiling. He tried to figure out why he felt so restless and ill at ease.
It didn’t take long for him to realize what was troubling him. He sat up in his bed, turned on the bedside light, and looked at his room.
Perfect! His room was perfect. Every model, every poster, every book was exactly the way he wanted it to be. This past summer he had even painted the walls white and the ceiling light blue, his favorite color. On that blue ceiling, right above his bed, he had placed glow-in-the-dark, star-shaped stickers that made him feel like he was sleeping under an open sky. Perfect!
And soon - as soon as tomorrow night - there would be an intruder in his perfect place. And a little while after that, a permanent invader might take up his space.
And because of that thought, that persistent, nagging thought, on what might possibly be the last night that he could sleep in a room that was perfect, Moishy Baker tossed and turned and had trouble getting to sleep at all.