The groceries had just been put away when the doorbell rang, and Janice opened the door to see Yuri standing there, beaming.
"Guess what!" he called to Erika, who stood right behind Janice. "Already I have a job! It's as a packer in a plant, starting tomorrow."
"Oh, that's good!" Erika cried. Yuri reached for her and pulled her into his arms, lifting her and spinning her around.
"In three weeks, when I get my first paycheck, I'll start looking for a home of my own," Yuri told Janice.
At that moment, it occurred to Erika she'd be separated from Yuri when he found a home of his own, and her smile disappeared.
"What's the matter, dear?" asked Janice.
"It's only I just realized I will soon have to seek employment as well," Erika replied.
"As it turns out, my maid resigned several weeks ago," Janice told her. "If you're interested, the position's yours."
"Oh, yes! Thank you!" Erika embraced the older woman.
"It's all settled, then," Janice said with a smile.
Yuri left for his new job early the next morning, and Erika eagerly began learning various tasks around the house, how Janice wanted things done. The work itself was pleasant, and Janice was patient with her, but in the back of her mind, she couldn't help but worry about what would happen when Yuri found his own place. Would he just put his past life behind him and forget she'd ever existed?
Although the morning passed swiftly, the afternoon seemed to crawl by. Erika couldn't wait for Yuri to return from his first day of work and wondered what it would be like. She knew he'd be tired from working all day. Would he be happy to see her again?
When he came through the door that evening, he had a big grin on his face.
"How did it go?" she asked.
"It went really well," he told her. "My new supervisor is very kind. When he heard my accent, he asked where I was from, and when I told him, he simply nodded. Later, he told me I was learning the job quickly and doing well at it. He even joked that I might be coming after his job soon."
"I'm happy for you," Erika told him, meaning it with all her heart.
During the evening meal, Yuri regaled the family with stories of events that had happened on his first day of work. Erika listened in silence, enjoying the camaraderie. For at least three more weeks, she would see him and hear his voice every day. Then what?
Before she realized it, Friday night had arrived.
"I was thinking, what if we drove you two into the city and gave you a tour tomorrow," Bennett suggested as the family ate dinner that evening.
Yuri and Erika looked at each other. "Would you like that?" Yuri asked Erika.
"is it a large city, like Berlin?" Erika asked Bennett, who laughed.
"Yes, it's very large!"
"And it's safe for Jews to go there?"
"New York City is full of Jews! You no longer have to fear for your safety, sweetheart."
Erika smiled. "Then I would very much like to see it!"
They started out early the following morning, taking the ferry across to Manhattan.
"Oh, look, Yuri!" Erika cried as she pointed to the Statue of Liberty.
"Yes." His arm slid around her waist, and he held her close. The early morning sun shone down on the water, and as Erika breathed in the fresh air, she felt truly free for the first time in longer than she could remember.
She enjoyed the ferry ride so much she was almost sorry when it finally ended and they were stepping onto land again. However, her slight feeling of regret was soon forgotten as she and Yuri marveled at the wonders now surrounding them.
"I've never seen buildings so high!" Looking up at the top of the skyscrapers made Erika dizzy.
"It's a real imperialistic capitalist dream, all right," Yuri muttered.
Erika turned innocent eyes to him. "What does that mean?"
"Nothing. Everything is very nice."
They walked up and down streets bordered by all different kinds of store fronts. Occasionally, Bennett or Janice, usually Janice, would lead them into one of the stores, where they would gaze around at all the merchandise.
"This so reminds me of my father's shop," Erika commented inside a jeweler's. Yuri saw her eyes fill with tears and wished he could buy her something pretty to make her feel better, but he hadn't been paid yet.
When they came to the tallest building of all, the Empire State building, Yuri and Erika stood hand in hand, gazing up at the top.
"What do you suppose is inside?" asked Erika.
"It's probably full of sausages and cabbage," said Yuri, which made her giggle.
"My grandparents never would have eaten sausage!" she gasped when she could speak again.
"And why not?"
"Sausage isn't kosher. It's against our religion to eat it."
Yuri snorted. "And your parents, did they eat only kosher foods as well?"
"No, they didn't." Her voice was so soft he barely heard it.
Everyone got hungry after awhile, and for lunch, they stopped at a deli called Nathan's for Reuben sandwiches.
"This is just like what we used to eat at home, before all the trouble began!" said Erika.
As the flavors of the pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese blended together on her tongue, she was swept away to a time long ago - a time when she and Tonia had attended school with all the other children, their faces freshly scrubbed, their starched dresses stiff against their skin, the cheerful banter of passersby on bicycles, the sound of their shoes striking the pavement.
It was the world of long ago, one she'd never pass through again except in her dreams.