| Double Dance |

Double Dance: Chapter 31

“I really think you should give her a chance. What are you afraid of? You think the girls won’t like you anymore?”



ikki sat on the hallway steps, elbows on her knees, waiting for Ruchie.

A loud crash from upstairs, followed by a scream, pierced the eerie silence. Rikki shot to her feet and clutched the banister.

Heart pounding, she looked up the stairway into the darkness. All was quiet until another scream tore through the stillness. Rikki jumped, nearly losing her footing on the step. Regaining her balance, she took the stairs two at a time. The door to her brothers’ room was ajar, and they were asleep. Her back arched. It was Chaya!

“Please, Hashem.” She rushed down the hall, unsure what she would find, and opened the door. Chaya was crying softly in her bed. Grateful that she hadn’t fallen out, Rikki turned the light on. The sound machine was lying on the floor, and Chaya was holding the cord, tears streaming down her face.

“What’s wrong, Chaya?”

Chaya blinked in the light and instantly stopped crying.

“Did you pull it off the dresser?” Rikki said. “Is that why you’re crying? I mean, I don’t know why I’m asking you. It’s not like you can answer me or even understand what I’m saying.”

Rikki lifted the broken machine from the floor. “It cracked,” she said glad that the sound of her voice seemed to calm Chaya.

Chaya held up the cord in her hand, and Rikki took it. “I guess it’s garbage now. Not that I care. The whole noise thing bothers me.” She shook the machine. “It’s so annoying. I know you like it, but I can’t imagine why. How can anyone sleep with a waterfall in their room? Ma is convinced that it helps you sleep.” She studied Chaya. “I wonder if that’s true. I mean, maybe you don’t really like it either.”

Chaya smiled.

“Does that mean I’m right, and you don’t like?”

Chaya held her hand out toward Rikki and wiggled her fingers.

“W-what?” Rikki said nervously. “What does that mean? W-what do you want?”

Tears filled Chaya’s eyes.

“Oh, no! Don’t cry again. Please. What do you want?” She held the broken machine closer to Chaya. “This? Don’t worry. Ma will buy another one.”

Chaya’s chest began to heave. “No, please, Chaya, don’t cry. I don’t know what you want.”

Chaya let out a wail.

“You’re going to wake the boys! Please, Chaya. Ssh.”

The doorbell rang.

Rikki looked longingly into the hallway. “That’s Ruchie. Will you be okay if I leave? I have to open the door. I’ll be right back.”

She ran out of the room, Chaya’s intensifying cries following her to the front door.

“What are you holding?” Ruchie asked as soon as she saw Rikki.

Rikki looked down at her hands. “Oh,” she grimaced. “Chaya’s sound machine. She broke it.”

“What’s going on, Rikki Dee? Who’s crying?”


“Chaya.” Rikki rushed to the stairs, Ruchie right behind her. “I’m not sure, but I think she pulled the sound machine off the dresser, and I guess it scared her when it fell. I don’t know what she wants now. I can’t get her to stop crying.”

“Chaya,” Rikki said when she and Ruchie entered the room, “this is my friend Ruchie.”

Ruchie smiled and waved. “Hi, Chaya. I heard so much about you from Rikki. It’s nice to meet you finally.”

Chaya smiled through her tears.

“Keep talking, Ruchie,” Rikki said. “She likes you.”

“So, Rikki told me that you like to color. I also like to color. In fact, my mother just bought me this amazing coloring book. It’s full of intricate flowers and patterns. Maybe I’ll bring it over, and we can color together. You’re going to love it.”

Rikki began to laugh. “Chaya would never be able to color those fancy designs.”

Ruchie grabbed Rikki’s arm and motioned toward Chaya with her head.

“Oh, don’t worry,” Rikki said. “She doesn’t understand what I’m saying….”

“Come on,” Ruchie whispered. “Don’t speak like that. She has feelings.”

Rikki was suddenly aware of her heart beating. “I-I I’m sorry, I didn’t even realize that…” she trailed off.

Chaya held her hand out toward Ruchie and wiggled her fingers. Ruchie laughed and wiggled her fingers too. Chaya began to laugh.

“Rikki, Chaya is the cutest!”

“How did you know she wanted you to wiggle your fingers?” Rikki said.

“I didn’t know.”

“So, why’d you wiggle them?”

“I don’t know. It seemed like the right thing to do.”

“Whatever. I’m just glad that you figured out what she wanted. If you weren’t here, I don’t know what I would have done.”

“I’m sure you would have eventually figured it out too.”

“Now that she stopped crying, let’s go downstairs.”

“We can’t just leave. She’ll feel so bad. How would you like it if someone just walked out on you?”

“You’re right, but we can’t stay here all night.”
    “Just until she falls asleep.”
     Chaya’s head moved back and forth from Rikki to Ruchie as they spoke. When there was a lull, she wiggled her fingers again.

“Look, she wants to play. She really is the cutest, Rikki Dee.”

Rikki grumbled.

“Come on, Rikki. It’s such an easy mitzvah. Just wiggle your fingers.”
       “Fine.” Rikki rolled her eyes and did what Ruchie said. “You know how weird this looks? I’m so akwarded out.”
       Ruchie laughed. “I know, but it’s also fun.” She moved her hands from side to side while wiggling her fingers, and began to hum.

Rikki couldn’t help but laugh and wiggled her fingers to the beat of the song. Chaya’s fingers wiggled slowly to a rhythm of their own.

Ruchie clapped twice, then bent down and spun around.

“Hey,” Rikki said, “that would totally make a great motion for a dance.” She clapped her hands, bent down, and twirled to test it out. “I love it!”

“Yeah, it looks so cool.” Ruchie grabbed Rikki’s hands. “I have an amazing idea! Let’s make up a song, with motions, for the Melaveh Malkah. If it’s in your house, then Chaya can perform with us! It will be a huge hit!”

Rikki’s smile vanished. “No.”

“Why not? All three of us can have matching hoodies and hats. It will be so cute.”


“I think you should at least think about it. It’s a great way to introduce her to the girls, and I know they would love it. I think Chaya would love it too.”

Rikki didn’t answer.

“You know, Rikki Dee,” Ruchie said softly, “she’s really cute. I mean, I understand it’s hard and everything, but I really think you should give her a chance.”

“A chance for what?”

“To just let her be who she is, to let the kids in school meet her. What are you afraid of? You think the girls won’t like you anymore?”

Rikki glowered.

“You’re not being fair to her, Rikki. Just think about it. She didn’t ask to be born like this or to be sent away from home.”

“I know that.”

“So then why don’t you just accept it?”

Rikki looked at Chaya’s smiling face. “Maybe,” she said. “I have to give it some thought.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 810)

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