| Jr. Feature |

Mali’s Secret Notebook

I’m hoping to find it when I clean! And yes, I’ve already said Amar Rabi Binyamin like three times. At least
(If you can read this, you’re looking too closely.)

Rosh Chodesh Nissan

It’s almost Pesach (again!). Can you believe it? I feel like I just cleaned my room, like, yesterday. (Okay, I was supposed to clean it. I didn’t. But that was yesterday. Today is a new day, right?)

Last year when I cleaned, I found some cool stuff, like my favorite banana-shaped pencil case which had been missing for six months. (That’s about 180 whole days I had to suffer without it. It had fallen behind my dresser.) I also found my favorite mechanical pencil (the sparkly one, but you know that because I used to write in you with it all the time). To be honest, and I’m always honest, I didn’t even know it was missing.

What do you think I’ll find this year, little notebook? (If only you could talk! It’s actually for the best that you can’t. I write some top-secret stuff in here.) Here’s what I’m hoping to find: the heart pendant from the gold necklace that Aunt Shulamis gave me two Chanukahs ago.

It’s so:








(those are enough adverbs, right?! Wouldn’t Mrs. P., my English teacher, be proud?!) embarrassing that I lost it.

Part of the problem was that I didn’t know it was gold. Really. Isn’t everything just fake jewelry these days? It was only when we saw her on Pesach (last Pesach, that is) that she bothered to tell me.

How was I supposed to know that it was genuine solid 18-karat gold? Okay, Okay, I know, I should’ve noticed the 18K. It was engraved on the necklace. Oops.

By the time she told me it was gold, I’d already lost the pendant. When Aunt Shulamis asked where it was, I didn’t want to tell her the truth, but I also didn’t want to lie. (Didn’t I say I’m always honest?) So, I said, “It’s in a safe place.” Which it is. I just don’t know where that safe place is. Technical detail, right? I’m hoping to find it when I clean! And yes, I’ve already said Amar Rabi Binyamin like three times. At least.

I’m also hoping to find:

The other sock from my avocado sock pair

The sparkly M keychain that Lali (my best friend!) gave me that’s been missing since the day I got it.

The backs of at least three earrings ‘cuz I’m running low

The atlas I borrowed from the library and now owe $$$ on

Money (See above. Then I can pay the fine!)

Surprises! Because surprises are just the best. Aren’t they?

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Speaking of lists, I have a confession to make.

Mommy asked me to help her get the shopping list ready for the super-duper, extra-large humungous Erev Pesach Shop-a-Thon, and I, um, added a few items of my own to the list.

I’m convinced that Mommy doesn’t even need the list.

She has it in her head (along with other 1,857,396,901 things).

Here’s what I added:

To Buy

Surprise for Mali (between “onions” and “potatoes”)

Sharks’ teeth (between “potato starch” and

“vinegar.” Because why not?)


Chocolate especially for Mali (after “chocolate”

and before “more chocolate”)

More chocolate

Bunny rabbit (between “wine” and “grape juice.” I

need someone to eat the carrots I wrote about

before, right? And I’ve never had a pet! Also, I

like bunnies. Like, a lot…)

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This cleaning is inexorable. That was a vocabulary word once (for Mrs. P, of course). Like it? It means relentless, or not to be stopped.

So far Mommy hasn’t discovered the items I hid on her shopping list. I like that, hiding in plain sight.

To be fair, she hasn’t gone shopping yet.

Here’s what I’ve found so far while I was cleaning:

-2 pens (one broken and one that writes with lots of ink blobs)

-9 of Moishy’s stamps (I don’t know why part of his collection is in here!)

-1 comic book (It’s the one we’ve all been looking for, Captain Marvelous Mitzvah Man. But now I don’t know what to do. Because if I bring it out and announce that I found it, everyone will know it’s my fault that it was lost for so long! What would you do?)

-3 odd socks (How does this even happen? None of them even match with each other! And I’m not even sure where their mates are!): one with purple stripes, one plain white, and one with yellow stripes.

-4 earring backs (Yay! Even more than I hoped for…)

-2 single good earrings (but I don’t know where the other halves of the pairs are)

-1 broken earring (I should probably save it for a craft project, right?)

Whatevs.) But NO 18K gold heart pendant. What am I gonna do?

(^The answer to that, obvs, is keep cleaning ‘cuz Aunt Shulamis and fam are coming in T-minus-9 days.)

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Here’s another “thing” I found, but I didn’t put it on the official “found” list, because it’s not really a thing.

I found a place where someone scribbled on the wall. My wall.

It’s super hard to see because it’s hidden behind the dresser. It isn’t just a scribble, though. It’s a name. Someone’s name. And it isn’t just a name. It’s a signature. An exact signature. Even with the little hearts she always draws to dot the I’s. Are you curious yet? Wondering whose name and signature it is? It’s Libi’s. Libi Lerman. That’s right. My sister signed her name on the wall of my room and I’m not gonna let her get away with it.

The little convo that happened next went like this:

Me: Hey, Lil Sis. (I like to call her Lil Sis, even though she’s only 14 months younger, she IS my little sister. And, also, it annoys her.)

Libi: What’s up?

Me: Can you come to my room a minute? I want to show you something I found.

Libi: Is it cool?

Me: You tell me.

We went into the room, and I moved the dresser away from the wall. I wanted to do it with a big flourish and sweep my arm out to point at the Offending Signature, but the dresser was kinda heavy, so it just bumped a bit as I budged it.

Anyway, where wuz I?

Me: Would you look at this?

Libi: [Peering closely] Hmm. Looks like my name.

Me: Not just your name. Your signature.

Libi: Why is my name and signature on the wall behind your dresser?

Me: [Using a Serious Investigator Voice] I don’t know. You tell me.

Libi: I don’t know either.

Me: But you’re the one who did it.

Libi: No, I didn’t.

Me: But it’s your name and signature.

Libi: True. But I didn’t write it.

Me: Yes, you did. It even has the hearts dotting the I’s.

Libi: So? It doesn’t mean I did it.

Me: Yes, it does. It’s your handwriting.

Libi: It does look that way. But I didn’t do it. It’s just as much a mystery to me as it is to you.

Me: I don’t believe you.

Libi: Are you calling me a liar?

And then she stormed out. What do you think? Is she telling the truth? And if she didn’t do it, who did? And why would they sign her name?

Also, I should’ve asked her if she’s seen my 18K gold heart pendant from Aunt Shulamis. But on second thought, maybe it’s better that I didn’t. Because then she might tell someone it’s missing. Which it’s totally not. It’s in a safe place… and an as-of-yet undisclosed location.

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Libi insists she isn’t the one who signed her name on my wall. But it’s her signature. Doesn’t that prove it?

She says it doesn’t prove anything, that signatures can be forged. Whodunit? And why? And, most importantly, who is going to have to take the blame when Mommy and Totty find out?

Update 1: I remembered last night (while I was trying to fall asleep of course  ) that I put some special jewelry into that tiny green wooden box that Totty brought back from his business trip to Tokyo. The problem is that I don’t know where the box is. And I also don’t know if the heart pendant is in it. I’m also not sure if I remember how to even open the box because it has one of those puzzle lids.

Update 2: I found an almost-finished letter I’d been writing to that Israeli girl, Sivan, who had lived here for a few years while her father was doing his residency to become a surgeon. But she left right after Pesach last year, which is when I started writing this. Should I still send it? Do you think she still remembers me?

Update 3: I also found an adorable, super-cute, fabulous, and lovely little picture of moi (that’s me in French; I’m like totally going to speak a bunch of languages when I grow up).

I was probably about six months old in the picture and I was wearing a fuzzy fuchsia sweatshirt that had a hood with bear ears. How cute is that?!

Except when I showed it to Libi and Moish and Nosson they all hooted and said my ears stuck out like a monkey. A monkey! Can you believe it?

I think they’re just jealous. For real. Because everyone knows that I was the cutest baby in this family. No doubt about it. Except maybe Gili, who is very, very, very cute. I may be her oldest sis, but I’m not biased or anything. It’s an objective opinion.

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Mommy went shopping and she “found” the items I “hid” on the shopping list. She told me she got a really good laugh from it. And that made me feel pretty good, actually, because everyone can use a good laugh. And also she bought me my very own chocolate. Score!

And, in other news: I found enough money to pay my library fine.

And I found the missing avocado sock.  Now I just have to find the atlas. (And, of course, the necklace.)

Now I’m in a pretty good mood. I had no expectations, so according to my equation, reality is pretty good!

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Did I tell you that Libi wasn’t speaking to me for a few days after I accused her of signing her name on my wall? Well, she wasn’t. But now she’s back to speaking with me. And thank G-d, because it’s high time that I asked for help with the necklace issue.  That green box and the gold heart pendant are NOT in my room. Which is clean, btw. PHEW.

Update: I asked Libi if she knew anything about the necklace and she said, “Of course I do! You lent it to me on Succos, and it’s still in my drawer in that green box!”

Can you believe it?! Just like that! And she knows how to open the box.

While I was in her room, I saw some of her school notebooks on her desk. Her signature with the two hearts is everywhere. Like, of course, she was the one who wrote on my wall, right?!

But I wasn’t going to say anything. Dangerous territory. Do NOT enter.

Libi saw me looking at the notebooks and you know what she told me?? Her friend Bella can do a perfect copy of her signature. Bella was actually the one who wrote Libi’s name all over those books.

I’m feeling kinda nauseous right now. Because when Libi told me that, I remembered Bella coming over and the three of us hanging out and scribbling stuff with my new gel sparkly pens and we were in my room… And then Libi and I had to go talk to Mommy for a minute and when we came back Bella had this weird, guilty expression on her face. She was twirling the purple pen in her fingers…

So, when I remembered this, I just ran to look at the signature behind my dresser. It’s in purple sparkly gel ink. Looks like someone’s gonna have to apologize and ask mechilah. And it looks like that someone’s gonna be me.

Til next time, Notebook!

p.s. Let me know if you see that atlas!

p.p.s. Moish said he is no longer collecting stamps, so I can use them to mail my letter to Sivan. Gonna go finish writing that now!


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 907)

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