| Double Dance |

Double Dance: Chapter 40 

Shoshie stood there for a few seconds, hoping her mother would say more, but her mother was focused on the pages. Could a person be jealous of a book?

"Can I speak to Miri?” Shoshie said into the phone.

“I think she’s sleeping. Should I give her a message?”

“Is this Benny?”

“Yes, is this Shoshie?”

“Yes. Can you tell Miri I called to say refuah sheleimah?”

“If I remember.”

“Thanks, I guess.” Shoshie hung up the phone then dragged herself off the bed to open her door a crack. The house was dark and silent. “Hello,” she said. “Anybody there?”

“Shosh?”

Shoshie swung the door open. “Yochevs?”

“Nope,” her mother called back. “It’s me. I think Yocheved went to a friend’s wedding. Can you come here a minute?”

Shoshie joined her mother in the living room. An opened bag of pretzels and a book were on her lap. “Want some?” Her mother shook the pretzel bag.

“No, thanks.” Shoshie tried to see the title of the book her mother was reading but couldn’t. “What are you reading? Is it good?”

“It’s okay.” Her mother closed the book, placing her finger between the pages. “Do you know which friend?”

Shoshie’s face was blank. “Which friend what?”

“The chasunah Yocheved went to. Who’s getting married?”

“Oh.” A tiny part of Shoshie wanted to tell her mother the truth, that Yocheved didn’t know either side. She had gone to eat, but she didn’t want to hurt her mother. “No clue.”

“You okay? You sound upset.”

“I’m fine.”

“Great.” Her mother opened the book and continued where she left off.

Shoshie stood there for a few seconds, hoping her mother would say more, but her mother was focused on the pages. Could a person be jealous of a book?

 

She looked around the room, eager to spot something that would trigger a conversation, but all she saw was an old paper plate speckled with hardened cheese. “Um, Ma?” she said on impulse.

Her mother looked up from her book. “Hmm?”

“I, um, I was just wondering, did… did you eat supper?”

“No.”

“Well, I was, uh, going to make something for myself, and I, um… like, I can make extra for you.”

Shoshie wondered why she had never offered before. She cooked for her father, her sister, and brother when he lived at home, but never for her mother. Shoshie didn’t want to think it was intentional, but the thought buzzed loudly in her head.

“Thanks,” her mother said softly. “That’s really nice of you, Shoshie. Yes, that sounds good. Great, in fact.”

The shock in her mother’s voice hurt.

“Okay,” Shoshie said. “Great. I mean, it won’t be fancy or anything crazy like that.”

“Anything is fine. Really.”

“Okay. I’ll tell you when it’s ready.”

“Thanks.”

Shoshie turned to leave the living room.

“And Shoshie?” Her mother’s voice cracked a little.

Shoshie turned to face her.

“Don’t work too hard, ‘kay?” She smiled.

The emotion rose from Shoshie’s chest to her throat, making it difficult to speak. “O-okay,” she whispered.

She rushed out of the room, uncomfortable at seeing this vulnerable side of her mother.

A flicker of affection that she had shoved to the farthest corner of her heart took center stage.

In one quick movement, she retraced her steps back to the living room and cleared her throat.

Her mother looked up.

“Ma, you want to cook with me? Like, together?”

Mrs. Abrams placed the book on the couch. “I… actually, yes.”

 

Devory locked the door and sat down at her father’s desk. With Miri sleeping in her room, and Miri’s mother in the family room reading Eli a book, this was the space available. Dinner had been disastrous without her father at his usual place. Miri’s mother had been all smiley and friendly while they ate, but Devory hadn’t looked her way even once. Benny and Malky may have fallen for her warmth, but Devory knew it was a facade. No one could be that nice! The minute she finished eating, she left the table without a word and made a beeline to her father’s office to read the new Share and Care letter that she had received in school.

She pulled the envelope from her pocket, then glanced at the door as she tore it open. A smile spread across her face while she read. She and her partner had lots in common.

She plucked a pen from her father’s desk, ready to respond, but her thoughts took an unexpected detour.

She swiveled the leather chair around and around, the gears in her head working. The girls in school had been eager to find a culprit so they could salvage their class trip, and Devory had been even more eager to deliver. Miri’s surprising appearance in Mrs. Klein’s office, handing her a mysterious package, and the phone call afterward, had cinched it.

Devory stopped the revolving chair with the tips of her shoes. “Wait a minute!”

Miri was sick. What if the girls put two and two together and concluded that that was the reason for her phone call from Mrs. Klein? Maybe all her proof wasn’t good enough after all.

Devory swiveled the chair nervously from side to side. There had to be a way to connect Miri’s being sick to her being the culprit.

The phone rang, and Devory tensed when she saw the caller ID. “Hi, Yael,” she said self-assuredly.

“Devory,” Yael said loudly, “Someone just told me that Miri went home because she was sick!”

Devory couldn’t believe Yael had made the connection so quickly. She had hoped to have until the next day to figure out how to handle this.

“And you’re telling me this becaaaause…?” Devory added just enough disdain to her voice to make Yael hesitate.

Yael faltered. “Because… I was thinking that maybe she called her mother to pick her up because she was sick. Not because she…” Yael lowered her voice, “you know.”

“Yael, of course she called her mother to pick her up because she was sick,” Devory spoke slowly, trying to think of a way to use the facts for her own benefit. “I know all that.” An idea suddenly popped into her head, and she began to talk quickly. “I happen to know that Miri is fine. She just pretended to be sick so she could go home early. I mean, she’s mortified.”

“Are you positive?”

“A million percent. Remember, she lives here. She’s feeling fine. Trust me. And if she doesn’t come to school the next few days it’s because she probably can’t face anyone.”

“So, what do we do now?”

“Basically, nothing. It’s up to Mrs. Klein. She’ll deal with it. For sure, no one should say anything to her. She’ll probably deny that Miri was the one anyway. You know how she likes to keep everything confidential. I just felt an achrayus to tell the girls what I saw, so they know to protect their stuff.”

“For sure.”

“In fact, Yael, I don’t think anyone should discuss it anymore. We should consider the whole thing over and done with. I don’t want it to turn into lashon hara.”

“Totally, Devory.”

Devory hung up the phone, pleased with the outcome of the conversation. She had covered her tracks. With that off her mind, she turned back to write to her Share and Care partner.

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 819)

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