| Teen Fiction |

Blue Light  

“You’re forever at choir practice…” sighed Leah theatrically. “Is it really such a major deal?”

“And now let’s do it one more time from the beginning — listen out for that beat!”

The small room pulsated with the upbeat melody as the girls standing around prepared to sing. At the right beat, they all burst out together, “Chaveirim kol yisroel……”

As the last notes died down, the silence was broken by the spontaneous applause that broke out.

Adina was the first to take a dramatic bow toward the nonexistent audience and the others quickly followed suit. Debby was last.

“That was fantastic!” exulted their exuberant leader, grinning widely.

“All of you,” she spread out her arms as though to encompass them all, “keep that up and we will blow them off their feet! See you all on… Wednesday. Does that day work for you? No tests? No play? Good. How about you, Debby? Great. Well, then Wednesday it will be! 8 o’clock — SHARP!”

The girls continued giggling as they walked out of the building into the frigid darkness and broke up into chattering groups. Well, mostly.

Debby waited outside the building, shivering slightly as she watched expectantly for the tell-tale headlights to appear in the distance.

The other girls drifted off to walk home in groups of two or three. Cheery “See ya's!” bounced around and their voices were soon lost in the wind.

Debby exhaled sharply when she saw the family car finally making its appearance.

And it wasn’t only because she was cold.

“Sorry, girls, you’ll have to wait a minute….” Sara’s voice tapered off as she bent over and fiddled with the music system.

Conversations sprang up as the girls flopped down, cross-legged, on the floor.

“I really think you should try out for G.O.” Tzivi repeated her oft-mentioned remark to Adina.

“Well,” said Adina delicately, as she flicked her silky ponytail over her shoulder, “I am actually considering it.”

“Really? That would be amazing!” Tzivi couldn’t believe the suggestion she had always pushed for was being seriously considered.

The floor was mostly an ocean of black, with Bnos Leah’s logo shining out — a flame embroidered in red, orange, and yellow.

Bnos Leah was a large school and the girls in the choir were from many different classes. There were also a few girls coming from other schools. They were not a homogenous group, but the choir connected them all.

As their voices rose and fell in comfortable conversation, Debby kept mostly to herself. She felt rather conspicuous in her navy and sky-blue uniform, although nobody had even mentioned it. Whenever possible, she tried to change out of her uniform before choir practice, but today there had been no time for that.

“Do you need help with the music system?” she offered Sara.

“Thank you, but I don’t think so,” murmured Sara absently as she frantically tried this and that, nervously glancing sideways at the ticking clock.

Debby wandered back to the groups of animated teenagers, and stood on the fringe of a group discussing their nieces and nephews.

She had no nieces and nephews.

The image of her little brother’s hilarious antics earlier that evening sprang to her mind but something made her keep her mouth tightly shut.

Then the moment was lost.

“Ooookay girls!” Sara clapped her hands. “Let’s start all the way from the beginning, and remember…”


“Hey Debs, are we getting together tonight? Your house?” Leah bounced up as soon as the bell rang, with Esther right at her heels.

“Sorry, guys, not tonight. I have choir practice.” Debby smiled apologetically, packing her notebooks into her bag. “How ‘bout tomorrow?”

“You’re forever at choir practice…” sighed Leah theatrically. “Is it really such a major deal?”

“Of course, I wouldn’t give it up for anything!” Debby declared emphatically. She thought of the music and harmonies with longing. “I wish we could have practice more often! It’s not like we have choir in our school, as you know. We tried to find a singing group or something here in our neighborhood, but…” She lifted her palms in a helpless gesture and shrugged her shoulders.

“You and your singing.” Esther rolled her eyes in a friendly way.

As they exited the building along with Shira and Rachel, amidst a buzz of boisterous friendly chatter, all Debby could think was, “Little do they know…!”

It was true. She truly loved the singing and that’s why she hadn’t given choir up. But the fact was, she felt hopelessly out of place amidst the Bnos Leah flames.

None of them had ever said or done anything to make her feel excluded, but all Debby knew was that whenever she was among them, she felt… very… blue.


“I’m so excited for our performance on Chanukah!” Chana announced enthusiastically.

“Aren’t we all…” came the laughing rejoinder from all sides of the room.

“Is that the performance we’re putting on for the nursing home?” asked Adina.

“Yes, that’s the one…” Debby answered.

“But, before that, comes… Chanukah Chagigah!” Shana reminded them all.

“What are you doing for it?”

As talk turned to school topics, Debby found herself alone. Again.

“Alright everyone, today’s the last rehearsal before our performance so it has to be peeeeeerfect!” Sara’s enthusiasm was contagious and the girls laughingly rose and got into their positions.

On her way back from practice that night, Debby’s thoughts were whirling. The conversation with Leah and Esther earlier that day kept replaying in her mind and niggling doubts began to creep up. She began to wonder: Maybe she should leave the choir? Perhaps she was just too different. Was it all actually worth it?

“Chanukah,” she decided. After the Chanukah performance, she would make up her mind whether to stay in the choir or just… leave.


“Maoz Tzur…” Debby harmonized softly as her family sang. The dancing flames gave the room a cozy ambience, and she smiled in anticipation, watching her mother bring in fresh doughnuts.

Licking jelly off her fingers (nobody saw, right?), she casually threw out a question. “Who can drive me to my choir performance tonight?”

“Your performance is tonight? Wow, I forgot it’s so soon! Are mothers invited?” exclaimed her mother.

“No, I don’t think so,” Debby replied without much regret. “But can you drive me? I need to be there at eight o’clock so we can all go to the nursing home together.”

“Hmmm…” she paused thoughtfully. “It’s a bit complicated. Let’s say I drive the boys to their Chanukah party now… I should be back in time to drive you there by eight. Okay, boys,” she hurriedly began to tidy up, “let’s get moving!”

As the car door slammed, quiet settled over the house. Debby looked around, bored, for something to occupy herself with until her mother came to pick her up.

Her eyes roved around the room and her gaze landed on the bright menorah lights, flickering as though to catch her attention. She found herself sitting opposite the glowing orbs, entranced, as thoughts began to form in her mind.


Red. Orange. Mostly orange. Yellow. And… was that… a tinge of blue?


Suddenly it hit her.

They were all the same. All part of the shining flame — the fire of Yiddishkeit. So what if some of them were yellows and oranges and she was a… blue?

They were one.

Debby cast her eyes past the fiery flames, through the darkened window. Her thoughts were now tumbling at a frenzied pace.

Now she understood. There had been no barriers holding her back. None, except her own disconnect.

Shaking her head firmly, she decided resolutely to demolish that barrier. Her blue would join the flames. She would try.

Two headlights stunned her momentarily as the car pulled into the driveway. Recovering quickly, Debby ran to get her coat and bag.

This was an evening she didn’t want to miss!

And it wasn’t only for the singing this time…


“Okay, five-minute break, everyone!” announced Sara with a smile.

The girls settled themselves down comfortably and engaged in their favorite pastime — talking.

“Let me show you all pictures of my family vacation,” Chana commented casually, pulling out her red camera. Everyone dove inward like bees to honey.

“Wow!” “Oh my…” exclamations rose up from the huddle around the small screen.

“Hey!” Tzivi thought aloud, as they got to the last of the pictures, “let’s have a group picture of our choir!”

“Oh, yeah!” “Sure!” “Good idea!”

Everyone scrambled into their choir positions and posed.

“CHEEEEESE…” they all chorused, stretching their smiles until their cheeks hurt. The yellow flash blinded them momentarily, but soon, the conversation was buzzing again.

Every girl had to comment on her facial expression in the picture, and then they all continued chatting about other topics.

Debby found herself in the thick of things.

“I can’t believe I have to wear a beard for the school play!” Shani sighed dramatically. “It’s crazy how scratchy it is!”

The old Debby would have shrugged inwardly and thought, “Bnos Leah stuff,” then clammed up.

But the new Debby saw blue flames flickering in her mind’s eye and found herself interjecting confidently, “Oh yes, I know that feeling! I had to wear a beard for my school play last year and it was such a relief when I could finally remove it.”

As the conversation continued to flow, her comments accepted, Debby noticed glimmers of surprise and even respect in the other girls’ eyes. She felt the barriers melting down into nothingness.

One flame. Friendly fire.


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 888)

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