“I can’t believe someone would blatantly lie about another girl regarding such a serious matter. I want to get to the bottom of this”
"You know, Maddy,” Rikki said, “if my mother hadn’t called me home today, I probably would never have known that Chaya was going to the doctor. I wonder if she would have even told me Chaya needs surgery.”
Maddy put her arm around Rikki’s shoulder. “I’m pretty sure that shouldn’t be the focus here, Rikki.”
Rikki’s shoulders sagged. “You’re right.”
“I bet,” Maddy said, “you’re focusing your emotions on whether your mom would have told you because that’s not as scary as thinking about Chaya’s health.”
“I’m really worried about her. Surgery sounds scary. I can’t even get a shot without freaking out.”
Maddy chuckled. “Chaya’s had this surgery before, and she’ll probably need it again in the future. It’s not serious. But you’ve still got a lot of praying to do. Not just for Chaya, but for your mom. This won’t be easy on her either.”
Her mother pushed Chaya in her wheelchair into the waiting room. “Chaya was so good during the MRI. I was worried she was going to scream for you, but, baruch Hashem, the noise of the MRI machine mesmerized her. Ready to go?”
Rikki stood up. “I can push her if you want.”
Mrs. Levy stepped to the side. “Thanks, sweetie.”
Chaya clapped her hands as Rikki wheeled her to the elevator.
“You okay, Mrs. Rena?” Maddy said.
“Yeah, I just… I didn’t think Chaya would need another surgery so quickly. Poor kid. You know?”
A sense of guilt overwhelmed Rikki. Please, Hashem, I know I wasn’t happy when Chaya came, and I wanted my life to go back to the way it was before, but I never wanted anything bad to happen to her. Please keep her healthy. Look how happy she is.
The elevator doors slid open, and Rikki steered the wheelchair around the people inside.
“Wow,” a woman said. “You’re pretty good with that. Your sister is lucky to have you. I bet you’re best friends, huh?”
“Actually, we are.” It was at that moment that Rikki decided she would do everything in her power to live up to those words.
“What do you mean you didn’t tell her?!” Shoshie said. “You have to go back right this second and tell Mrs. Klein that it wasn’t you!”
“Shh! She told me not to talk about it with anyone. I’m already in huge trouble, don’t get me into more.”
Shoshie lowered her voice. “This is crazy, Miri. You know it. I’m coming with you to tell her.”
Miri swiped at her eyes then looked in the bathroom mirror. “Why would she even think that I took the money?”
“It was money?!”
“Oh, my! You must tell her!”
“I can’t believe she would blame me. She didn’t even ask me. Just accused me.”
“It’s so not her type. Mrs. Klein is usually so fair.”
“Why would she think I took it? Someone for sure told her it was me.”
“Who would do such a thing?”
“I can’t even imagine. I mean, even Devory wouldn’t stoop so low.”
The bathroom door swung opened, and Yael entered. “Oh, sorry.”
“It’s okay,” Shoshie took hold of Miri’s arm. “We were just leaving.”
Miri shook free from Shoshie’s grasp. “I can’t.”
“You have to.”
“I can’t tell her.”
“You may as well get it over with,” Yael said.
“Get what over with?” Shoshie said.
“Just tell Mrs. Klein so we can all move on.”
“What are you talking about?” Shoshie said.
Yael’s hand flew to her mouth. “Oh, I thought that you were talking about the…” She looked from Shoshie to Miri. “Nothing, forget it. I was mixing up two different things.” She licked her lips. “I better go.”
“No way!” Shoshie said. “You better tell us.”
Yael’s brows slanted. “Just forget it, really.”
Shoshie’s hands were on her waist. “Mrs. Klein said no one knows about it. So how do you know?”
“I, um, I just do.”
“People don’t just know something. You have to hear it somewhere.”
Yael’s face was pink. “Okay, so the girls were talking about it.”
Yael’s fingers ran through her hair. “I don’t know, everyone.”
“Can you be more specific?”
“You know!” Yael said defiantly. “I don’t have to tell you anything.”
“Yes, you do. Miri did not take that money, and she’s being accused of it.”
“Well, there’s proof!”
“Proof?” Shoshie faltered. “What kind?”
Miri’s eyes grew round. “How could there be proof?”
“Someone saw you.”
“That can’t be. How could someone see me take the money if I didn’t?”
“She saw you give it back to Mrs. Klein.”
Miri rubbed her temples. “What are you talking about? It’s such a lie.”
“Devory would never make up a lie like that.”
Yael huffed. “You see! Now you made me say! Thank you very much!” She turned around and stormed out the door.
“If it weren’t so horrible,” Miri said, “I would actually laugh.”
“At least we know who started the rumor. I think we should go speak to Mrs. Klein.”
“If you are innocent, then why didn’t you defend yourself?” Mrs. Klein said. “You should have told me.”
“I’m very disturbed by what you told me,” Mrs. Klein tsk-tsked. “I can’t believe someone would blatantly lie about another girl regarding such a serious matter. I want to get to the bottom of this.”
Tears pricked the corners of Miri’s eyes once more. She opened her eyes wide and stared ahead, hoping the well of tears would dry, but they didn’t. They coursed down her face quicker than she could wipe them away.
Mrs. Klein’s tone softened. “Tell me everything.” She pulled a tissue from the box on her desk, “Here.”
Miri took the tissue and dried her eyes. “I didn’t take the money. I promise.”
“I believe you, Miri. I’m sorry I accused you, but you said nothing to make me believe otherwise. Your silence, coupled with the large group of girls who came to me, convinced me that it was you. I was too quick to judge.”
Miri hiccupped. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m the one who is sorry, Miri. Would you like to tell me why Devory would start a rumor like this?”
Miri shuddered. “She’s not so happy that I live in her house and stuff.”
Miri saw the light go on in her principal’s eyes. “Ah, I see. That must be hard for you.”
Miri shrugged. “I guess.”
“I’m guessing a lot.”
Miri grinned. “Maybe. She thinks I make her life miserable.”
“So she used this to make your life miserable. Got it.”
Miri could tell that she did.
“I’m going to have to call her father.”
“No! I mean,” Miri lowered her voice, “please don’t.”
“Devory just started to act normal to my mother. If you tell her father, she may start to give my mother a hard time again.”
“Hmm. I understand, but it would be a tremendous lack of chinuch if I were to let this go uncorrected.”
“Maybe you can just take care of it without telling her father.”
Miri squirmed under Mrs. Klein’s long, silent gaze. “Okay,” the principal finally said. “I think I know exactly what to do.”
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 828)
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