So who really needed this play? Why was it so important to me?
"I hope we’ll have rehearsals all day today,” Esti said quickly. “I love missing regular classes!”
“No chance of that,” Chani responded, and the conversation rolled on from there. Esti had managed to change the subject, but why? What was her problem with talking about our play?
At recess Esti asked me to come outside with her. When we were alone at the end of the corridor, she confronted me. “Batya! Whatever possessed you to tell everyone about the play?”
“Why not?” I defended myself. “It’s not a secret, is it? You never said not to tell.”
“I thought it was obvious. You should have known not to tell anyone. It’s so embarrassing!”
“What are you talking about? I don’t get it. Why is it embarrassing?”
“Because in the serious, real play, I only got a tiny part. I don’t want everyone to think I mind so much that I went and organized a homemade play just so I could have a leading role.”
I wanted to say “what are you talking about” once again, but I kept silent, staring at the steady stream of girls who were passing by, gaily chattering. Actually, Esti was right, wasn’t she? But to me it had seemed like a wonderful thing — a great opportunity for Esti to star in a different play, after she had been disappointed in the school play. How was it possible that now, the way Esti put it, it suddenly seemed embarrassing and pathetic?
“Don’t worry, Batya.” Esti turned back toward the classroom. “I’m not going back on my decision. It’s important to cheer up Mrs. Shulman, especially now that she’s been sick, and I’ll do it for her. I just don’t want everyone to know about it!”
It was sad, but also funny, in a way. Esti agreed to take part in the play to make Mrs. Shulman happy, and Mrs. Shulman agreed to take part in the play to make Esti happy… So who really needed this play? Why was it so important to me? Why was I constantly trying to convince everyone? Was it really all just for me?
I didn’t have much time for these thoughts. In the afternoon Bentzi arrived home all excited: He had found the perfect flagpole! “I found it out back by the dumpster!” he cried, waving around an old, worn out broom. “See, it’s much longer than a regular broomstick. We’ll just unscrew the brush part and attach a flag instead.”
“But how can we keep it from falling over?” asked Tova.
“No problem!” I had a flash of inspiration. “There are those big flowerpots in the lobby at Zchus Avos, full of earth, and some of them without any flowers. We can stick the flagpole into one of them. And in the meantime, let’s make the flag!”
We all went out together to buy materials and then spent a pleasant hour painting red stripes on a white sheet of construction paper and pasting 50 twinkling stars on a blue square. Even Shmuel helped paste the stars. When we finished, we had an impressive American flag attached to a long flagpole.
Tova clapped her hands. “Now all that’s left to do is to finish coloring the backdrop, and everything will be ready!”
“And the most special part of the set will be Peaky — the live exhibit,” I reminded her.
“If nobody steals him first,” Moishy muttered.
“The gate is always locked,” Bentzi said. “There’s nothing to worry about.”
Moishy stuck out his lower lip and said nothing.
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 865)
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