I stare up at my mural thoughtfully, tracing the moon and stars with my eyes. I don’t think I’m really a night person, come to think of it. I love mornings, with warm sunshine baking my face and throwing bits of shadow around. But there is a certain mystique to the night, a dreamy elegance that Mommy’s talented brush seems to have captured.

I startle out of my thoughts as my door bangs open. Simchi stands there, his brow furrowed.

Hey little guy, I sign. How goes it?

He comes closer and peers at my face curiously.

I raise an eyebrow. Can I help you, buddy?

He squints. Mommy said you’re suspended. But I don’t see anything on you.

I crack up. Simchi, what did you think suspended meant?

He shrugs. Dunno.

I reach out and pull him close, inhaling the scent of his kiwi shampoo. It just means my morah said I can’t some to school for a few days.

Simchi looks horrified. Not even for dodgeball?

I pout. Not even for dodgeball.

He pats my face sympathetically and skips out if the room.

I stare after him and then reach for my phone. Nothing. Not a single text or call from the group.

I don’t know why I’m surprised. I’m pretty sure I’m done for.

My life is over, I think calmly, and pull a pillow over my face so no one will hear me scream.

“It’s nice that they’re still allowing you to be in Production,” Mommy says as I wander into the kitchen for lunch.

I look at her dully. “Production?”

Mommy purses her lips. “Yes, Production. Choir? Your duet with Hadas? It’s tomorrow night? Any of this ringing bells?”

I close my eyes. “Oh. I’m not going.”

Mommy gives a little laugh, a harsh brittle sound I’ve never heard her make before. “Oh, yes you are.”

I open my eyes and stare at her. She looks angrier than I’ve ever seen.

She furiously whisks eggs in a bowl.

“You left behind your wonderful friends in Brownsfeld, I didn’t say anything. You became friends with a group of entitled brats, I tried to bite my tongue. You hurt your sisters’ feelings and ignored your brothers, I told myself it’s a phase. You got yourself kicked out of school—”

My mouth is hanging open, bits of egg are flying around the counter.

“—I say kids are kids. But if you think I’m going to stand by and watch you renege on your obligation, allow you to leave Hadas in the lurch like that, you are very, very mistaken.”

The fork clatters into the bowl, Mommy is breathing hard.

I close my mouth with a snap. I think I’m going to throw up.

Mommy takes one look at me, and all her anger deflates. “Oh, RaRa, it’ll be okay.”

She comes toward me, arms outstretched. I stand still as a statue.

And then she’s hugging me, and I melt into a puddle of tears, pain, and regret.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 758)