“You're my teacher?” she asked, incredulous. I took her little hand in mine
The graduation ceremony was long done; so was I with this prison they call school. Nechami had the mandatory cry with me, and we had the mandatory pictures… I can’t say I won’t miss her once she’s off to Israel, but come on, it’s only a year!
I resolved to give no more thought to Mrs. Adler nor to the mysterious connection she seemed to have with my mother. It for sure was something to do with me, but it didn’t matter. Nothing to do with her matters anymore.
I was starting a new chapter now. I vowed to myself to make this next part of my life the best one yet.
That night I slept better than I had slept in the last ten years.
I had a great summer. Did a road trip with all my cousins, spent time with my siblings, Miriam even came over for a couple of nights. I relished the freedom.
The night before I started work, I found myself stargazing on my own on the balcony; really, my sister was supposed to come join with lemonade, but she was on the phone. I was glad to be by myself with my nerves.
What will the staff say when they see me? I am the youngest member there… Will they treat me normally?
And what about my reading? Sooner or later they’ll find out …
Stop worrying, I told myself. No one is there to assess your academic capabilities. They want you because you’re good at what you do. You’ll be perfect!
Just then my sister joined me.
I had a whole school of butterflies doing a grand dance event in my stomach as I was walking to work the next morning. Boy was I glad I did not eat breakfast.
As I neared the gates, my heart gave a little flutter. I was officially a working girl now. No more school for me — I’m working!
Mrs. Bergman waited for me outside the gates, her bandana as shockingly colorful as I remembered it, a big smile on her face.
“Good morning, miracle worker,” she greeted me. I laughed. During the many meetings we’d had, she’d never called me anything but “miracle worker.” It was a joke between us.
After a quick stop at the office to sort out some technical details, I was shown into Classroom 3.
None of the children were there yet, but there were four women standing there chatting. I felt so out of place. I was the only girl there.
“Hi,” I said shyly, into the sudden silence. “My name is Shulamis.”
“Hello.” One of them, tall with a long blonde wig, volunteered a quick smile. “I’m Rina.” She eyed me curiously. “I hear you’re working with Lalli?”
“She’s going to work with Lalli?” another woman lifted her eyes from her phone. She was wearing a vibrant headscarf, and had a smooth, dark complexion. I turned to her.
“My name is Simchah,” she said pleasantly. “I’m the classroom manager.” Then I got acquainted with the other two women. There was Estie, a bubbly newlywed, and Dina, a shy, quiet woman with a gorgeous smile.
“The children will be here any minute!” Simchah called out looking at the clock. “You girls ready?”
We all went outside to wait at the school gate. Simchah stayed behind, organizing the classroom. Soon after, the school busses started to pull up one by one. Lalli hopped off the bus. She was wearing an adorable pink dress and her long hair was in two pigtails. Her lips were tightly shut.
“Lalli!” I hugged her. “Good morning!” I was getting excited. Finally, I got to see her again! Lalli looked at me, silent. My smile dropped. Were a few summer months enough to make her forget me? I hadn’t seen her since Pesach, but I’d worked so hard on building our connection until then! Had all my work gone to waste?
“I’m Shulamis, remember? I take you on outings— “
Something dawned in Lalli’s eyes.
“Chocolate,” she said, her voice barely above a whisper. I grinned, relieved.
“You’re right! I always bought you a hot chocolate drink! You have a great memory, Lalli!”
Lali’s big eyes looked me up and down.
“You’re my teacher?” she asked, incredulous. I took her little hand in mine.
“Yes, honey.” I nodded. “Come, let’s go to the classroom!” Lalli stared at me for another moment, then willingly walked alongside me, a slightly dazed look on her pretty, little face.
Phew. At least that went well. Great start, Shulamis, keep going.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 885)
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