The Giver // My friend’s husband was almost at the point of no return

As told to Naomi Raksin

Miriam cancels just as I am about to leave the house.

“Don’t think I can make it today.”

I frown at the message. This is the second week in a row she’s canceling our weekly Tuesday brunch. I read the message again and note the odd wording. Leaning against the doorpost, I shoot back a response.

“You sure? Everything okay?”

Her response dings in a few seconds later. “Not really. Let’s meet, but somewhere else. Not at a cafe.”

I blink a few times, and then type back. “Your place?”

“No. I’ll come to you.”

I shrug out of my jacket and sit on the bench in the entrance, my mind on Miriam. Miriam is the predictable sort. Calm, cool, confident, a little bit aloof. It’s a fitting persona for the wife of a wealthy philanthropist. The one hour a week we spend at a cafe is an opportunity to relax and enjoy the simplicity of an old friend’s company amid the hectic and very different schedules of our days.

By the time Miriam pulls into the driveway, I have a platter of cookies ready, and I’m pacing around the kitchen wiping water spots on the countertops.

I lead her into the living room, we settle onto the velvet couch and I hand her a mug of coffee with extra milk, just as she likes it.

Miriam takes a sip and then leans back into the cushions. She’s impeccably dressed as always, but there’s something wild in her eyes that I’ve never seen before. It looks like she hasn’t slept in days.

I reach for a marble cookie and pass it to her. She smiles, but her face remains stiff. “You’re a hostess, Bracha.”

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