| Double Dance |

Double Dance: Chapter 41

Miri groaned. Who was she kidding? She wasn’t worried; she was downright petrified!

 


Mr. Weiss extinguished the flame of the candle in the spilled grape juice. “Gut voch.”

“Gut voch,” Mrs. Weiss said.

Miri coughed and winced. Although she felt much better, her ribs hurt from coughing.

“Why don’t you get back into bed?” her mother said.

Miri coughed then moaned.

“Oy,” Mrs. Weiss moved some hair out of Miri’s face. “I’ll bring you a heating pad. That may help.”

“Thanks, Ma.”

“Tomorrow is a big day. I don’t want you to miss it.”

Miri felt Devory’s glare even without looking in her direction. She gave her mother a quick peck on the cheek. “Good night.”

“Moshe, do we have a heating pad in the house?”

“I don’t think so. But I can get one from the pharmacy if you’d like.”

“That’s okay. I think I have one somewhere in one of the unpacked boxes in the garage. I’ll get it.”

Mr. Weiss held up his hand. “I’ll get it, Leah. I don’t want you schlepping a heavy box.”

“But you’re just getting over being sick.”

“I feel fine, baruch Hashem.”

“Don’t worry.” Benny flexed his muscles. “Those boxes are easy-shmeazy for me. I’ll help you, Ta.”

“Thank you, Benny.” Mr. Weiss smiled at his wife. “Benny to the rescue.”

“Thanks, Benny. Don’t let Ta overwork, ’kay?”

“I won’t.”

Mrs. Weiss watched them leave the dining room together, thankful for moments like this.

“Benny, give me a hand. I think this is the box Ma is talking about.”

Benny dragged the box out from the corner. “Hey! Ta! Look what’s behind the box. Looks like a bunch of pictures.”

Mr. Weiss bent down and inspected them. “These are paintings.”

Benny looked over his father’s shoulder. “Wow! It’s really nice.”

“All of them are.” He saw the name on the lower right corner. “Miri painted these. Amazing.”

 

“She’s such an artist!”

“I had no idea she could paint like this. She’s very talented.”

“Why are they in here, Ta?”

“I don’t know, but I have a great idea. I want it to be a secret, though.”

Benny nodded solemnly. “For sure. You can trust me, Ta. You know I’m great at keeping secrets. What is it?”

Mr. Weiss chuckled. “I’m going to have these paintings professionally framed, and then I’m going to hang them up in the house. Imagine how that will make Miri feel!”

 

Her mother was right; the heating pad worked wonders. More comfortable now, Miri switched it off and turned toward the wall. She didn’t want to argue with Devory tonight about going to the carnival. It had been the furthest thing from her mind the last few days, but now that she was feeling better, she was worried about the coming day.

Miri groaned. Who was she kidding? She wasn’t worried; she was downright petrified!

Too afraid to get out of bed to discuss her dilemma with her mother and risk bumping into Devory, Miri lay facing the wall, pretending to be asleep.

 

Ruchie sat up from her makeshift bed on the living room floor and wrapped her arms around her knees. “I feel kind of bad that we’re sleeping here,” she said to Rikki. “I mean, last night, it was okay, but I feel like Chaya knows that I’m still here and feels bad that she’s not part of the fun.”

“Oh my, Ruchie.” Rikki pushed herself up onto an elbow. “I was feeling the same way. But then I thought, how crazy is that? Chaya probably doesn’t understand. But then I thought about how she was so happy the whole Shabbos whenever we included her.”

“Exactly! Don’t you feel like she really understands when you speak to her?”

“Yes!”

Ruchie lay back down. “She is really going to have fun at the carnival tomorrow. She loves to have fun.”

“I thought the whole thing was a waste, but now I see I was totally wrong.”

“Tell me the truth, Rikki Dee. Are you excited about going?”

Rikki rested her head against the pillow. “I am.”

“Me too. Thanks for inviting me to come along.”

Rikki could hear the delight in Ruchie’s voice and smiled. “You’re welcome.”

Ruchie yawned. “Good night.”

Rikki closed her eyes. Images of the carnival began flashing through her mind. She wondered if she’d know anyone there. It wasn’t as though she knew any families with children with special needs. Her body relaxed, and she started to drift. In her sleepy state, the blurred vision of Devory Weiss took shape. Her eyes sprang opened. She did know someone who would be at the carnival. The man who was suing Ruchie Friedman’s father!

 

Devory opened her eyes and swallowed painfully. “Ow.” She looked at Miri, sound asleep in the next bed. The sudden stab of guilt in her heart hurt more than her sore throat. Monday would be the beginning of much unpleasantness for the unassuming girl. She looked away from Miri’s innocent face, but the guilt of blaming her for stealing wouldn’t budge. Even her belief that Miri deserved it did nothing to dislodge the painful feeling in her chest.

Miri sighed contently in her sleep, and Devory felt worse.

“She’s probably too mortified to face us,” Devory had told the girls when Miri hadn’t shown up at school on Friday. She cringed at the memory.

Devory slid out of bed and went into the hallway. She needed her father.

His door was closed, and there was no streak of light beneath it. Devory shivered in the darkness, exhausted and achy. Raising her hand, she knocked and waited, then knocked again. The door opened a crack.

“Ta,” Devory groaned. “My throat kills.”

Her stepmother stepped into the hallway pulling the door closed behind her. She touched Devory’s forehead. “You have a fever.”

Devory blanched and pulled away. “I— I need my father.”

“Let’s let him sleep. He’s just getting over what you’re probably coming down with.”

Hot tears ran down Devory’s face. “No. I need him!”

“Come,” her stepmother’s voice was soft. “Let’s go downstairs. I’ll give you some Tylenol and something to soothe your throat.”

Devory felt too sick to argue. “ ’Kay.”

“Just give me a sec.” The door closed, and her stepmother emerged an instant later, holding a man’s robe. She slipped it over Devory’s shoulders. “This will warm you up.”

Devory pulled the robe tighter around her shivering frame and mumbled something that sounded like thanks.

Without a word, she followed her stepmother down the steps to the kitchen and sat down heavily on a chair. She watched her stepmother fill the kettle and set it on the stove. It could easily have been her mother. They were so similar in so many ways. But it wasn’t her mother. It was her. Devory wiped her wet eyes.

“Oy, Devory.”

She looked away to hide her crying.

The kettle’s whistle pierced the stillness, and two mugs of steaming cocoa materialized on the table.

“Take this first, so you’ll feel better.”

Devory reached for the two white tablets that her stepmother slid towards her, visibly fighting back the tears.

Mrs. Weiss sat down. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Devory met her eyes.

to be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 820)

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