“Punishing her isn’t going to make her feel bad for what she did. It’s just going to make her feel bad that she was caught”
"Your fault?” Mrs. Weiss asked Miri. “Why on earth would it be your fault?”
“Because.” Miri told her about the girls she met at the carnival. “And,” she concluded, “she asked me to speak to Devory, but with everything that happened, I forgot.”
“I’m not sure that makes it your fault, sweetie. I’m also not sure Ta would consider it. He lost a lot of money. That was the reason he had to close Happy Vistas, even if it was an accident on Mr. Freidman’s part.”
“What’s Happy Vistas?”
“A place where children who need special care can live under a doctor’s care.”
“Really? I didn’t know he owned a place for kids.”
“It’s the only one for children. All the other facilities he owns are for adults.”
“I feel bad Mr. Freidman’s mistake was the reason it closed, but maybe Ta will change his mind if he knows how hard it would be for Mr. Freidman to come up with all the money?”
“Why don’t you speak to Ta about it?”
“Me? Hmm. You know, Ma? That’s not a bad idea.”
Miri and Shoshie entered the schoolyard. “I’m so excited about the trip on Wednesday.”
“Me, too, Shoshie. It’s going to be epic.”
“I’m going to bake my amazing chocolate chip cookies tonight to bring along. You bring cut-up fruit.”
Miri laughed. “My mother can also make us sandwiches if you want.”
“Yes! Tuna with those tiny pieces of sour pickles!”
“She just bought bagels. It’s, like, not normally good on bagels.”
Shoshie licked her lips.
They sat down under a tree to eat their snack. “So, I have like a million things to tell you,” Miri said.
“Okay, so you go first.”
“No, you. Mine, for sure, is going to take the whole recess.”
Miri exhaled. “So basically, Devory didn’t say anything to me about anything. I was hoping she would apologize or something. I mean, I was sure Mrs. Klein told her to. Don’t you think?”
“Like, hello! Hi! For sure. That’s such a principal thing to do.”
“Also, my mother was so hurt for me. She was, like, legit crying. She even offered to send me to live with my father’s parents and go to school there.”
“Don’t worry. It’s not happening.” Miri nibbled on a pretzel. “I guess Devory will just keep pretending it never happened, and she’ll keep on being, you know, Devory.”
“But like I told my mother, I’ll just try to avoid her for the rest of my life.” She took a bite of a pretzel. “So, what’s your news?”
Miri rolled her eyes. “Can you narrow it down a little?”
“Okay, guess who came home?”
“I’m so happy for you! Now everyone’s —”
“Miri,” a voice interrupted.
Miri looked up, shielding her eyes from the sun. “Hi, Chanie. Hi, Yael.”
“Um, Miri,” Yael said. “We just wanted to apologize for, you know.” She elbowed Chanie.
“R-right. We’re sorry. Like, really.”
“Okay,” Miri said. “Thanks, I guess.”
“And we also want to ask you to speak to Mrs. Klein so Devory will be able to go on the trip tomorrow.”
“Are you kidding? Devory can’t go on the trip?”
“No. Mrs. Klein punished her. Didn’t you know?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“She deserves it!” Shoshie said. “And if you’re only asking for mechilah because you want Devory to go on the trip, then you don’t really feel too bad!”
“No, we do,” Yael said. “We feel very bad about it. But we also feel bad for Devory. We’ve been planning this trip forever, and she was really looking forward to it.”
Shoshie jumped up from the grass. “You feel bad for Devory?!”
“Yes. She’s going to be the only eighth grader in the whole entire school tomorrow. She’ll be mortified.”
“She should have thought about that before she stole and blamed it on Miri!”
Miri touched Shoshie’s hand. “It’s okay. Forget about it.”
“No, Miri, it’s disgusting!”
“Let it go, Shoshie. Please.”
“But, Miri.” Shoshie’s chest rose and fell quickly. “You’re being too nice.”
Miri’s eyes begged Shoshie to stop.
“Okay!” Shoshie threw her hands up. “Fine.” She sat back down and folded her arms tightly across her chest.
Miri flashed her a thankful grin.
“S-so…” Yael said uncertainly, “will you speak to her?”
Shoshie’s mouth opened, but Miri responded first. “Did Devory ask you to ask me?”
“No. She would kill us if she knew.”
“Right, she has no idea,” Chanie said. “Oh, my gosh.” Chanie stiffened. “Please don’t tell her.”
“You don’t have to worry. I’m not going to tell her anything.” Miri didn’t say it was because she and Devory didn’t speak.
“But,” Miri said, “I’m not going to speak to Mrs. Klein either.”
“Because it would be weird! And anyway, I’m not the one who punished her. Mrs. Klein did. I didn’t ask her to. I wouldn’t have cared if Devory didn’t get punished.”
“Really?” all three girls asked together.
“Punishing her isn’t going to make her feel bad for what she did. It’s just going to make her feel bad that she was caught.”
Miri saw Yael signal to Chanie with her eyes that the conversation was over.
Shoshie’s mouth was still open when the girls had gone, but the anger in her eyes had disappeared.
“What?” Miri said. “Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Miri,” Shoshie’s voice was thick, “I think you’re probably the most amazing person I know.”
“No, really. I mean it.”
The bell rang, and Miri stood up. “Ouch,” she grimaced, “this amazing person’s foot totally fell asleep.”
“Bang it against the ground.”
Miri stomped her foot while thinking about what Yael had said. “Devory’s going to be the only eighth grader in the whole entire school tomorrow.” Miri couldn’t let that happen.
Her foot better now, she walked beside Shoshie to class, secretly working out the kinks of her plan for the following day.
With a plan under her belt, she wasn’t sure if she was as an amazing person as Shoshie had so earnestly declared or if she was a first-class fool.
Rikki and Ruchie munched on chips on the back steps of the school.
“So, basically, no matter what I write to my Share and Care partner, she still sounds so down.”
“What’s her issue? You told her how your feelings toward Chaya changed.”
“I know, but I guess her feelings toward her sister didn’t. I can’t make her like her sister.” Rikki crumbled the bag in her hand and aimed it at the garbage can several feet away.
“Nice shot,” Ruchie said.
“Thanks. Anyway, back to Chaya, if we don’t teach her when to wiggle her fingers, tonight, she won’t learn it in time. Come over right after school because Chaya goes to sleep pretty early. We only have tonight, Wednesday, and Thursday.”
“Okay, I’ll call my mother.”
“Chaya is going to be so happy to see you. I told you how she screams when I go to school… well today I could still hear her when I was a few houses away. I don’t know what my mother is going to do about it.”
“If she wants to be with you, Rikki Dee, then just bring her to school. Maddy can watch her here.”
“Oh my, Ruchie. You’re right. Why not?”
to be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 832)
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