“Going once, going twice.” Matti dangled the half-eaten bag of chips between two fingers. “Okay, your loss.”
Rikki watched the bag drop into the trash. Matti rushed out of the classroom to play Elimination. If she weren’t in a self-pitying mood, she’d join in the game. Hands in the pocket of her gray hoodie, she stretched out her legs beneath her desk and crossed her ankles. The speaker had been right, some kids did have it easier than others. Look at Matti, youngest in her family with two married sisters and a brother away in yeshivah. She seemed to have it all: cute parents, nice house, dimpled smile, and she was bursting with positive energy. Rikki hadn’t ever thought about it, but now …
Rikki covered her head with her hood, dulling the chatter around her.
Rikki looked up.
Ruchie stood in front of her. “Not the hood!”
Rikki pulled the drawstrings, tightening it around her face.
“Okay, this is going from bad to worse. We’re going for a walk.” She pulled Rikki to her feet. “Let’s go.”
Rikki shook her arm free. “I’m staying right here.”
“Okay, no prob. We’ll talk right here in front of everyone.”
Rikki yanked her hood off her head in one swoop. “Fine.” She walked out of the room, and Ruchie ran to catch up with her.
“Come on, Rikki Dee. what’s going on?” she asked when they were safely out of earshot from other girls.
Ruchie didn’t respond. They walked for a few moments without talking.
“I don’t even know what I’m so upset about.” Rikki burst out. “For all I know, things will be exactly the same, or pretty much the same. I mean, it’s really too early to tell.”
“Want to fill me in on the details?”
“Okay, but girls keep asking me ‘what’s with?’ What am I supposed to tell them?”
“Nothing. It’s no one’s business.”
“I know that, but that’s not going to help any.”
Without warning, Rikki stopped walking and faced her friend. “Ruchie, you’re not going to believe this, but my parents told me that… that basically…” Her eyes welled up unexpectedly, and she turned away.
Ruchie touched her shoulder. “Rikki, you don’t have to tell me. Really. It’s okay.”
“Thanks,” Rikki sniffled without turning back. “I… I have to go get a tissue.”
“Do you want me to come with you?”
Rikki pulled her hood back onto her head and walked down the hallway. She knew she should speak to Ruchie. It wasn’t right. How much longer could she keep her in suspense?
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 784)