Second choice

She looked at her sweet, peaches and cream baby with the patch of silky blond hair, sleeping peacefully in the bassinet, and her heart swelled once again with love for her firstborn. The ringing phone interrupted her silent offer of thanks to Hashem, and she rushed to answer it before it woke her tiny, new treasure. “Hello.” “Yittaleh,” her mother said, “How’s the zisser baby?” Yitty smiled. “Baruch Hashem. She’s breathtakingly beautiful.” “Did she let you sleep last night?” “That’s another story,” Yitty grinned. They discussed feeding strategies and the option of hiring a baby nurse for a few nights. “Ma,” Yitty continued, “any news about the carriage?” Her mother exhaled loudly. “I know how much you want the blue one, but I called again and they’re completely sold out. They don’t expect another shipment for some time.” Yitty wrinkled her nose. She knew the only other option was the green one. Why the manufacturer had decided to produce such a nice-looking carriage in such a dreadful color was a mystery. The year was 1965, and the carriages generally available were rather bulky and heavy. She had her eye on a sleeker, navy, Italian pram that she and her mother had spotted in the window of a chic baby shop.

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As pricey as it was, her parents had insisted on only the best for their new einikel. “I guess I’ll go with the green one, then.” “I know how much you wanted the blue one, Yittaleh,” her mother said, “But for some reason Hashem wants you to have the green one instead.” Somewhat consoled by these words, Yitty made peace with her second choice. ••• Yitty dressed her bundle of joy and wrapped her in a light blanket. She carefully made her way down the steps to the waiting green pram outside. In the sunlight, she had to admit, it was kind of nice… different than it had appeared in the softly- lit store. The large white rubber wheels and silver accent was a sharp contrast to the deep green fabric. It was strikingly eyecatching. “You’re the only lady I know to purchase the pram in this color,” the salesman had said. “You’re guaranteed to make a statement.” Yitty and her mother had smiled dutifully. “Truthfully,” the salesman continued, “I like the green one better. I’ve been in this business a long time and I know what’s fashionable.” Yitty had silently studied the older man’s loud, plaid jacket and mismatched, striped tie, and stifled a smile. She laid her infant inside and began her very first mother-daughter stroll. She walked down Coney Island Avenue, peeking into stores and enjoying the warm summer breeze.

Across the street, a welldressed woman pushed the identical Italian carriage in the rich, navy blue alternative. Yitty pulled in her bottom lip and bit down on it as a strand of envy intertwined with her happiness. The navy blue was classic and beautiful. She quickened her steps hoping to loosen the noose of jealousy. She turned the corner onto Avenue J, forcing herself to window-shop, one store after another, until she saw several carriages, complete with babies and toddlers, crammed together outside a clothing store boasting a huge summer sale. With her curiosity piqued, she left her own carriage, baby included right alongside the others. Every few minutes, Yitty glanced out through the throngs of carriages at her own pram. Pleased that all was well, she continued to browse the racks. ••• Yitty’s mother rushed out of the hous.Walking as quickly as she could to the corner of Coney and J, she hoped to reach the Dime Savings Bank before it closed. She had tried several times earlier that day to leave for the bank, but telephone calls, a seltzer delivery and a clogged drain had held her up. As she neared the bank, she saw a woman pushing a baby carriage. The carriage was deep green with large white rubber wheels and silver accents. It was strikingly eye-catching. The salesman’s words instantly replayed in her mind. “You’re the only lady I know to purchase the pram in this color. You’re guaranteed to make a statement.” A shiver rippled through her.

Bank deposit forgotten, she ran over to the woman. “What a beautiful, unusual carriage.” “Yes,” the woman replied. “If you’ll excuse me, I’m in a rush.” “Can I see your baby?” “I don’t have time. Like I said, I’m in a rush.” Without warning, Yitty’s mother grasped the hood of the carriage with both hands and pulled it all the way back. The peaches and cream baby inside with a patch of silky blond hair lay content and clueless to what was transpiring around her. “This is my granddaughter!” She swiftly lifted her precious einekel from the pram and held her tightly to her heart. The other woman didn’t wait around. She turned and sped down the avenue and out of sight before help could be summoned. ••• Yitty was happy with her purchase. Although the skirt had been a tad snug, in a few weeks, she knew it would fit just right. Now all she could think about was getting back to her sweet, sweet baby girl. Bag in hand, she exited the store. Harsh reality punched her in the chest. “No!” was the first word out of her mouth. Her heart rate accelerated to an alarming pace. It had been a mere minute and a half since she had last glanced through the window…a mere minute and half to pay for the new skirt. Where was her baby? She looked up the street. Her world quickly turning black. Panic rapidly rose within. She turned and looked down the street, her eyes already releasing their hot, heavy tears. But there, just a few stores away, near the bank, stood her mother … and the most beautiful green pram she had ever seen.

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