I ’m stuck here lying in bed, while overwhelming thoughts swirl around me. “Bittersweet chocolate” is the epitome of my British pen pal, Dina. Tears prick my eyes, threatening to escape their shelter. Finally, they pour forth and I swipe away the salty tears in vain. Yanking my pillow vigorously, I punch it hard. Dina! I scream inwardly, Why on earth did I ever contact you to begin with?! “Dina Hartman!” I wail, “you were a chunk of my heart, and now you deceived me! How could you send me such a letter? ‘Leave me alone’ you say? How could you?!
Sprawled on my bed disheveled and heartbroken, I kick my feet furiously in an attempt to crush the cruel reality. “Dina,” I cry, “you stabbed my heart with blazing knives!” Ouch. It’s so painful. “I am befuddled and all alone drowning in a sea of desperation!”
The door of my bedroom opens a crack. “Uh, you okay?” I hear my older sister Rivka’s voice from the doorway. I peel my eyes away from the wall and irately drop my head on the drenched pillow. My chestnut hair flutters in all directions. Rivka’s feet scuffle across the room reaching the foot of my bed. Worry flits across her face like a shadow blocking out the sunshine.
“Um, what’s wrong, Charny?” Acutely embarrassed of my tears, I slowly turn to the other side and raise my sheets till only the roots of my hair are visible. “Get out of here. It’s not your business,” I croak from underneath my veil. Under wraps and inconspicuous, I allow my tears to flow freely.
“If you say so, Charny, I’ll leave. But Mommy said your supper is getting cold.”
I just pretend I’m sleeping.
*
“Listen up, girls. To polish your writing skills, the principal and I have decided to treat each of you to a pen pal. Some of them live as far as Australia or Spain,” Mrs. Rosen announced dramatically. Twenty-four pairs of eyeballs popped out of their sockets, and all ears perked up. The room bubbled with enthusiasm and boisterous students.
After calming us down, Mrs. Rosen extracted a colorful cup. “And now…” She paused for dramatic effect. “I will allow each of you to individually come up and pick your lucky pen pal.”
We were all pinching each other and raising our hopes that our new pen pals would stem from the furthest location in the world. Chavi, confident as ever, sauntered up front. “Rachel Lieder from China,” she read coolly from the green note. We gasped in astonishment and cheered jubilantly for our friend.
One by one, the girls received their pen pals, and we clapped for each. Anxiously, I awaited my turn. Finally, I stood, clutching my precious pen pal between my fingers. I squeezed my eyes shut. Releasing them, I quickly read, Dina Hartman, London, England.
“Charny, soon you’ll begin to speak like the British!” my teacher exclaimed, mimicking an impeccable, proper accent. I chuckled and plopped down in my seat, grinning at my friends. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 666)