t was becoming increasingly weird keeping my new friend a secret from my parents. Every time Ahuva called, I felt like I had to explain her existence to them. Which was difficult, since I could hardly explain it to myself. I found myself furnishing excuses for her calls all the time — and hating it.

“Klein, Klein, Klein,” my mother chanted when I returned home from a friend’s vort one night. “Just look at the caller ID. What does this girl want from you every night? Why does she work from home?”

I grabbed the opportunity. “It’s not about work,” I clarified. “I’m pretty good friends with her.”

That was the understatement of the century, but at least I wouldn’t have to hide Ahuva anymore. Was it my imagination or did my mother look bewildered? There was nothing wrong with Ahuva. There was no reason my mother shouldn’t approve of our friendship. Why was she different from all my school and camp friends? We were coworkers, sort of, right?

Right. Who was I kidding? This friendship was vastly different from any relationship I’d ever experienced. In under two weeks, we’d gone from being fun acquaintances to tight friends, bonded with an intensity that took over my entire life.

Through my friendship with Ahuva, I was discovering parts of myself I never knew existed. Ahuva had a way of making me dig deep into my psyche and bring up buried feelings. Almost every conversation with her invited tears as I ripped through my heart and exposed troves of anger, pain, fear, and doubt. It was emotionally draining and exhilarating at the same time.

Ahuva told me I was lucky my mother didn’t control my social life. “My mother never approved of any of my friendships. Not because there was anything wrong with my friends. She says I have a problem, that I don’t know how to have healthy relationships. Do you agree?”

I didn’t quite understand, or maybe I didn’t want to, but I followed her rules and never dared call her house. She always called me.

Besides for the problem explaining Ahuva to my parents, I hated what was happening between me and Miriam. I knew the right thing would be to tell Miriam about Ahuva. But what was I supposed to tell my best friend of ten years? “Hi, Miriam, how’s life? Oh, by the way, I have a new best friend and I’m much closer with her than with you but don’t go anywhere, I still want to be your friend?” I could totally see that fly, sure.

The whole situation — being enmeshed in my friendship with Ahuva, fearing Miriam’s reaction, juggling my teaching and copywriting work while grappling with all the confusion — made me nauseous and interfered with my sleep.

Not that there was much sleep to interfere with. It was a good thing Shabbos came every week or my brain would’ve become completely addled from exhaustion. I floated through the days on autopilot, relying on adrenaline to deliver my lessons every afternoon.

One morning, after another night spent whispering under my blanket, I emailed Ahuva:

We can’t talk tonight. My body is protesting.

I waited on edge for her to reply. When she did, I did a double take.

There’s news. If you can’t stay up, I get it. Up to you.

Me: News???

Ahuva: The shidduch I told you about, I think it’s going to happen.

I froze. No. No no no no no.

Ahuva: You there??

Me: No.

Me: I mean, yes, I’m here. But no. NOOOOO!

Of course, we spoke that night. We beat every record, saying good night at six-thirty in the morning with promises to continue the conversation as soon as possible. Ahuva had to be at work by nine. I had no idea how she’d make it on time. Since I taught in the afternoon, I set my alarm clock for eleven.

When I woke up and checked my emails, I saw a message from Ahuva.

Don’t ask. I showed up at work at 10:20. Boss was livid. It’s the third time this week.

My stomach sank. If Ahuva lost her job because of me, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.

But before I could dwell on this development, another email came in.

This one was from Miriam.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 762)