| Double Dance |

Double Dance: Chapter 15

The pang in her mother’s voice hit Rikki’s core. She struggled to speak. “I - It’s okay. I guess I…I’m just frustrated.”


"Please, Chaya,” Mrs. Levy pleaded. She wrapped Chaya’s hand around the spoon and scooped up some egg. “Just one bite.”

Chaya’s mouth remained clamped shut. Rikki brought yogurt to the table and sat down.

“Maybe she doesn’t like scrambled eggs, Mommy,” Ezra said.

“It’s one of her favorite foods.”

“How do you know? She never ate here before.”

The unintended accusation dangled over Mrs. Levy.

“I - it was in her chart. I made it just the way she likes it.” Her voice grew weaker. “With ketchup.”

“Why is she using a spoon for eggs?” Avi said.

“It’s easier than a fork.”

“I also want a spoon.”
“Me too!”

“Rikki, can you…”

“Sure.” Rikki was already out of her chair and opening the cutlery drawer. “Why don’t you wait for the nurse to come?” she suggested.

“She won’t be here for another hour. Chaya barely ate yesterday. She must be very hungry.”

Rikki handed each of her brothers a spoon, then sat down to open her yogurt. In one quick motion, Chaya scooped up the container and hurled it into the air.

“Hey!” Rikki’s shout was automatic. The container hit the ceiling hard and burst open. Creamy pink yogurt splattered over the kitchen and everyone there.

Rikki jumped up. “Oh, no!”

“Eew!” Avi and Ezra screamed. “Yogurt’s all over the place.”

Rikki’s complaining added to the chaos.

“Chaya,” Mrs. Levy took Chaya’s hands gently into her own and held them


“No, sweetie.” She reached for a napkin on the table and wiped Chaya’s splattered face and skirt.

“It’s in my hair,” Rikki said. “Great!”

“It’s on my yarmulke and shirt,” Avi said.

Ezra lifted his leg. “My pants!”

“Okay,” Mrs. Levy said, “Go upstairs and get a clean shirt from the bottom drawer, Avi.”

She turned to Ezra. “There are clean pants in your closet.”

“If he changes his shirt,” Ezra said, “then we won’t be matching.”

Mrs. Levy tried to smile. “No problem. You can change yours too. But try to hurry, boys. The bus will be here in a few minutes.”

Rikki grabbed a bunch of napkins and wiped her hair. “Ugh! It’s all over me! I need water … and look at my shoes! They’re ruined.”

“I’ll take them to the shoemaker, maybe he can clean the suede.”

Rikki threw the crumpled wad of napkins in the garbage with more force than necessary, then turned to go.

“Where are you going, Rikki?’

“I - I have to wash my hair.” Tears filled her eyes. “And now I’m going to be late for school!”

“I’m sorry, Rikki. I really am. I wish I could drive you, but I can’t leave Chaya …You know she doesn’t mean to cause trouble …”

The pang in her mother’s voice hit Rikki’s core. She struggled to speak. “I - It’s okay. I guess I…I’m just frustrated.”

“I know. Hopefully the nurse will be able to come an hour earlier and things will fall into place.”

Rikki nodded for her mother’s sake.

“Chaya has a mischievous streak, if you haven’t figured that out by now.”

“Yeah,” Rikki said, “and she also has bad timing.”

Mrs. Levy grinned, then bent down to pick up the yogurt container from the floor. Rikki saw a mound of yogurt on the top of her mother’s sheitel and couldn’t hold back her laughter.

“What’s so funny?”

“I’m sorry, Ma,” Rikki giggled. “I really shouldn’t be laughing, but the top of your sheitel has a glob of yogurt on it.”

“Really?” Her hand flew to her head. “I just had it washed and set!” Her frown slowly curved upwards. “Thanks for being such a good sport.”

“Who’s going to clean this mess, Ma?”

“I’ll take care of it. You hurry up and wash the yogurt from your hair.” Her mother breathed out loudly. “It will be a learning curve with Chaya.”

Rikki and her mother looked at Chaya, who was licking yogurt from her fingers.

“I think she likes it, Rikki. Let me see if she’ll eat one.”

Rikki left the kitchen and mess behind, and rushed upstairs. Her mother was right, it would be a learning curve with Chaya. But if this morning’s lesson was any indication of what was to come, she didn’t think she’d be such a good student.


“What’s wrong?” Miri asked Shoshie on the way to school.


“Are you sure?”

“Positive. I was going to ask you the same thing.”

“I’m okay,” said Miri, stretching the truth. Last night’s shock had not worn off yet, even though her mother had assured her that being adopted was her choice.  They walked another block, neither saying a word.

“Okay,” Miri burst out. “Are you angry at me? Did I do something?”

“No. Why?”

“Because you’re so quiet.”

“Well, so are you.”

“But you’re usually the talkative one.”

“Sorry. I’m just … I don’t know. I’m tired, I guess.”

Miri didn’t like Shoshi’s tone. She sounded…defeated.

“Do you want to come over after school?” she said, hoping to lift her friend’s spirits. “We can do homework, and you can stay for supper. My mother is a really good cook … wait a minute, I think you can stay for supper. I mean, I have to ask my mother. Before, I used to always bring friends home for supper, but now it’s not supper, it’s dinner. I’m not sure if he lets friends come for dinner.”

Shoshi laughed. “Would you believe I actually understood what you said?”

Miri smiled. “I knew you would.”

“Listen, Miri, I really want to come, but I have to go home right after school. I’m worried about my sister … She was acting funny this morning and … It’s really complicated, Miri. Forget it.”

Miri bobbed her head. “I understand.” But she didn’t. “Maybe you can come over tomorrow.”

Shoshi shrugged. “Maybe.”

“Miri,” Shoshi said when they reached school, “I – I’m not feeling so great. My stomach is killing. I think I’m going to go home.”

“Are you sure?” Miri didn’t ask her if she had to ask her mother. She already knew the answer. “Maybe you can get a tea from the office.”

“Tea’s not going to help. I’m going home. I’ll call you later, or I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Miri stood on the bottom step and watched Shoshi rush off in the opposite direction.


Shoshi didn’t care that tears blurred her view as she rushed home. Maybe she’d trip and sprain her ankle. Then her mother just might mother her.

Yeah, right!

She wiped her eyes. Managing a household had never been one of her mother’s strong points.

She opened the unlocked front door of her house and went straight to her room. Once there, she stood in the threshold, breathing heavily while she slipped the backpack from her shoulders.

Shoshi glanced at her room, taking comfort in its orderliness. Everything was as she had left it this morning, except for the single piece of paper on her bed. She picked it up and recognized Yocheved’s handwriting right away.

“Sorry, Shosh,” she read out loud. Her eyes skimmed the rest of the printed words; then  she folded the paper and placed it in a drawer. She stood motionless as the words sunk in.

The muscles in her stomach tightened. Yocheved had moved out.

To be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 793)

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