U sually, I don’t like the rain. But today, even the raindrops seem to smile and wink.

“Ma,” I say as I spring into the house.

“Hello, precious. How was your day?” My mother stops rolling out the pizza dough to greet me properly.

“Baruch Hashem, awesome. I’m Costume Head!”

“Wow!” She comes over and high-fives me, causing a puff of flour to escape from between our hands.

I hang up my coat. Then I call Kayla Hauser.

“Kayla, we have to start planning right away!”

“Come over right now!” Kayla’s voice is squeaky with excitement. “You’ll eat supper at my house.”

I agree, even though I love my mother’s homemade pizza.

Within 20 minutes, I find myself ensconced in Kayla’s bedroom, surrounded by papers, markers, and a big bowl of potato chips. One notebook is titled “Performance 2016,” in which we sketch a mix of reality and imagination. We record the cast, scene settings, and the appropriate costumes.

Technicalities tackled and the fun begins: shopping. You might say I share a language with the textiles we call clothes and I savor the idea of employing my hobby for the good of the school.

Kayla and I stop in many stores, buy every so often, we laugh, eat some more, stand a lot, until we are ready to call it a day.

I’m exhausted when I arrive home. It’s not so late; Mali and Shevy, aged six, are still doing homework, but I almost fall asleep while brushing my teeth.

I promptly begin a night of cloudy dreams filled with applauding audiences.

I’m Costume Head! It is a little man dancing in my head with the reminder the next morning. Knowing I will be a fashion director extraordinaire today pumps energy into me. I hum as I swish through slushy snow on my way to school. This year, the major play is sure to be a hit, and the costumes will have lots to do with the success. Being costume head suits me just fine.

I steal into my home later that day, dark except for a bulb shining over the kitchen counter. In the hush, it sounds like the house is actually buzzing.

Today was a frenzied one. We still haven’t found the perfect costume for Malka, acting as a Bedouin. Maybe we’ll have to sew it ourselves, something I am loath to do. Shopping is so much more exhilarating.

I tiptoe into the kitchen, although I doubt anyone will wake up. I just feel like tiptoeing at 1 a.m.

I prepare coffee and take it to the couch; the mug warms my hands as I sip from it, letting the creamy beverage linger on my tongue.

When the glass is empty, I force myself to get up. Every step I take from the couch to the sink snaps as my shoe unsticks from the floor. The sink is scattered with spoons and forks and soup bowls. As the oldest of eight, I get my hands into suds quite often, as my mother prioritizes a clean house. My mother must have been overly busy if she left dishes in the sink overnight. I feel my throat go sour, like I had swallowed vinegar.

I try to calm my guilt by quick-fixing the black spots on the floor with Windex. The dishes will have to wait.

I open the door to my shared bedroom; it creaks, and Mali shifts in her sleep. I watch the twins slumber, their caramel hair a web on their pillows. I go closer to Shevy and caress her baby shampoo-smelling curls.

I make myself comfortable under my covers. But of course, I can’t fall asleep because my heart is pulsing with coffee. (excerpted)