| Double Dance |

Double Dance: Chapter 45

Miri felt like a proud grandmother. Seeing her stepfather take interest in Eli filled her with immense joy


"OMG! Miri,” Rikki said. “It sounds like you know him.”

Miri smiled nervously. “I’m just saying.”

“Come on, guys,” Ruchie said, “Let’s stop talking about it. Let’s just have fun. Kay?”

“You’re right, Ruchie. Sorry for bringing it up.”

“I know you really want to help, Rikki Dee. Thanks.”

Miri instantly thought of Shoshi. They would also do anything for each other. She made a mental note to bring her back a souvenir. Something special.

“Our turn, finally!” Ezra said.

The balloon man, dressed as a clown, twisted an array of long, colored balloons into exciting shapes to the delight of the three little boys.

“So cool,” Miri said.

The clown pulled balloons from his overstuffed pockets, and his quick hands shaped them into a teddy bear. He handed Miri the bear and bowed.


“So cute!” Rikki said.

“I know, right? I’m totally giving this to my friend Shoshi. She’ll love it. It’s so her type.”

“I want to bring one back for my mother. I feel so bad she couldn’t come.”

“I know, mine too,” Miri said. “She had to stay home with—” Her face became hot. “Um, my sister is sick, so she’s home with her.”

“Is she older or younger?”

Miri felt moisture collect over her top lip. How would she explain that they were the same age?

“Hey, look,” she pointed. “He made you each a teddy bear too.”

The clown was holding them out to the girls.

“Thanks,” Rikki and Ruchie said.

Miri blew out her breath. Disaster averted. Whew! “Let’s see when the puppet show is starting.”

The girls happily complied. Miri saw a familiar man in a suit coming her way. Her stepfather!

“Uh, why don’t you go find seats in the tent?” she said. “I’ll get churros from the stand over there and bring them.”

“Oh, yum! Great.”

Miri watched them enter the tent, then took Eli’s hand. “There’s, um, Ta.” The word felt rubbery on her tongue. “Wanna go say hello to, uh, Ta?” She let the “T-word” bounce on her tongue before she tried it a third time. “Run to Ta, Eli.” It rolled off easier now.

Eli tightened his grasp on Miri’s hand.

“Eli?” She looked down at him. “You don’t want to go?”

Eli’s face puckered.

Miri’s heart broke in half. She wasn’t sure whom she was sadder for, father or son. They were both missing out.


Mr. Weiss walked over to them. “Hi, kids. Where’s the rest of the gang?”

“They went to the booths.” She jiggled the hand that was holding Eli’s. “Look what the clown made especially for Eli.”

“Very nice.” Mr. Weiss looked past Miri. “It’s a large turnout today. I’m sure they’ll raise a lot of money.”

Miri didn’t really care about that right now. “Eli is behaving so nicely,” she said. “I think that’s why the clown made him such a cool balloon guitar.”

“Nice weather too,” her stepfather said. “It will draw more of a crowd.”

Who cared about the weather!? “Eli also had a snow cone. He loved it.”

Mr. Weiss looked at her strangely, then shifted his eyes to Eli. “Is that so, Eli?”

Eli nodded.

“Eli also made some new friends today. Right?” She jiggled his hand again. “Why don’t you tell, um, Ta, about them?”

She saw a twinkle of delight in her stepfather’s eyes. “Yes, Eli,” he said, more attentive now. “You made new friends?”

“Avi and Ezwa.”

Mr. Weiss looked surprised. “Wow, Eli remembered their names.”

“Hello, for sure! Eli is really smart.” She squeezed the little boy’s hand. “He’s not just cute.”

“Of course he is,” Mr. Weiss said. “Was your snow cone good, Eli?”

“Yep. Blue, wed, and…” He scrunched his nose and looked at Miri.

“Ora…” she hinted.


Mr. Weiss’s eyes popped. “Excellent, Eli.”

Miri felt like a proud grandmother. Seeing her stepfather take interest in Eli filled her with immense joy. Eli would benefit from it as much as her stepfather would. She thought about Benny’s boasting and Malky’s insecurities and knew she could help them too. Who knew? Maybe she had the power to help Devory as well. Maybe Hashem put her in this family for that specific reason. She would make it her mission to help them all. Miri almost laughed out loud. She sure had a lot of work cut out for herself!


Shoshi read her Share and Care letter for the fourth time, trying to understand 22’s problem. What was wrong with coming home to a hot dinner every night, even if the housekeeper cooked it? Why was taking elaborate vacations each year a drag? Who cared if she spent the time with her siblings and housekeeper instead of her parents? Shoshi wished she had a housekeeper taking care of her. It seemed like 22 had everything.

She pulled the first letter from its envelope and skimmed it. What did 22 mean when she wrote that she basically had to do everything? What was there to do? It seemed as though things were handed to her on a silver platter.

Shaking her head in confusion, Shoshi folded both letters and slipped them back into their envelopes. She’d never gone on vacation anywhere and couldn’t remember the last time there was a hot meal on the table. Why did 22 join Share and Care? Her life wasn’t complicated. It was a dream come true.

She wished she could call Miri and speak it over, but Miri was at the carnival. She looked at the clock on her desk. Two o’clock. It would be hours before she would be able to talk to Miri.

“I’m home if anyone cares!” Yocheved’s voice cut through the noiseless house a second before the front door banged shut.

“Hi, Yocheved,” Shoshi heard her mother call back.

There was a quick incomprehensible response from her sister and then the sound of another door banging shut.

Shoshi clucked her tongue. Why couldn’t Yocheved at least respond coherently to their mother? It had taken Miri’s dare to make her realize it was a two-way street. A give and take.

“Hey!” An idea popped into her head. Maybe…

Shoshi yanked the door to her room open. “Ma!”

“I’m in the living room, Shoshi.”

“I was just thinking…” Shoshi sat down next to her on the couch. “It’s such a nice day. Maybe we can go for ice cream?”

Her mother’s eyebrows arched high on her forehead. “I, um, okay.”

“Really?” Shoshi said. “I mean, great!”

“I’ll just get my purse.”

Shoshi was floating on air. “Wow!” she mouthed. When was the last time she went out with her mother? When was the last time any of her siblings had?

“Yocheved!” Shoshi jumped up from the couch at the same time her mother returned.


“Just a sec, Ma.” She ran out of the living room. “I’ll be right back!”

She knocked on her sister’s door. “Yochevs.”


“We’re going for ice cream. You want to come?”

The door opened. “Who is ‘we’?”

“Ma and me.”

“No way!”

“We’re leaving right now. Are you coming?”

Yocheved vacillated. “I don’t know. What will we talk about?”

Shoshi rolled her eyes. “I’ll take care of the conversation. All you have to do is smile and eat ice cream.”

“I can do that.”

“Good! Let’s go.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 824)

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