| Teen Diary Serial |

Metamorphosis: Chapter 2

Who cares about losing a friend when I might get cancer. I didn’t know then how much scarier life could get.


Iam on my way back from recess. One girl brought a ball and we had one of our rare Machanayim games. I am thirsty and sweaty but also happy as I gaze up at the cloudless blue sky.

Suddenly the sky darkens. Well, not for real but internally. Pincers grab my heart. I just know that Ahuva will drop me.

She doesn’t like me anymore. I know because of the way she looked at me. Help! I can’t just lose her like that!

“Perela.” Ahuva is walking over to me. “Great game, we should do this more often.”

Wait — so she does like me. But what if, maybe, well… how can I make sure that she will like me forever?

I high five her halfheartedly but then I give her an extra big smile to make up for it.

All the tales that I heard of tenth-grade politics and broken hearts are flooding my mind. Ahuva is acting so normal now but… what if?

My stomach is so sour for the rest of the day. Every interaction with Ahuva alternately reassures me or terrifies me. When I can’t get it out of my mind even after a week I begin to rue the day that I began high school. Friendships are so stressful.

On Shabbos I go over to Ahuva as usual.

“Are you okay, Perela?” she asks me. “You seem so tense these days.”

Finally I have a way out! If I tell Ahuva, then she’ll promise me we’ll be friends forever and ever. Then I’ll finally feel better.

“I’m a little embarrassed,” I begin.

“Of me?” Ahuva is surprised.

“Well, yeah, because it has to do with you.”

Now Ahuva is dying of curiosity and confusion. “Tell me, I promise I won’t get upset or anything.”

So I tell her.

“That’s what you were so worried about?!” She is incredulous. “Of course we’re being friends forever, do you think I can stand to lose you?”

I’m so relieved. A tiny worm of doubt crawls its way into my heart but I brush it away.

All is good in my world. For now.

I was so naive. Who cares about losing a friend when I might get cancer. I didn’t know then how much scarier life could get.

As soon as I get to school I take the hundred dollar bill nestled in my pocket and jam it into the nearest pushke. “Tzedakah tatzil mimaves.” I’m safe. At least for now.

Now that I’m somewhat back to normal I go over to Chavala and schmooze.

During recess I call Ahuva from the office phone. She says she has a virus. I wish her a refuah sheleimah and savor the ordinariness.

“Perela!” Shaindy squeals from down the hall. “You must come join our cookie party. Sara Dina bakes the best triple chocolate fudge!”

I smile and save my response until I’m halfway to the 10B classroom. When I reach it Shaindy gives me a hug. We’re not that close but that’s Shaindy. “I didn’t see you since yesterday!” she exclaims.

The cookies are sweet and delicious. If only life would taste like this. Time to get back to class.

Rattle rattle rattle goes my heart in my rib cage. Deep breath in, count to three, deep breath out. Hope against hope that my heart will settle down, but no, rattle rattle goes my heart.

I can’t sit still when I’m feeling so anxious. I slump on my desk and put my head down, then I sit up abruptly. Tap, tap goes my foot on the floor. I drum on my desk and bite the eraser off my pencil. Finally, I ask to go to the bathroom.

I walk along the hallway and ask Hashem to take away this horrible, all-encompassing feeling that is torturing me.

It’s the worst, I decide, when I can’t stop feeling panicky and it’s for no reason at all. I can’t identify any specific fear. I’m not even feeling afraid of fainting or getting sick. I’m just feeling anxious.

I don’t yet realize that whichever particular anxiety is bothering me at the moment is always the worst.

I walk over the gleaming tiled bathroom floor as if the cure for me is hiding somewhere there. It’s not, I discover. There’s a row of stalls, a row of sinks, and a few crumpled paper towels.

I hide in one of the stalls and start bawling before I can stop myself.

It’s ten minutes later and I have to get back to class. The classroom looms ahead of me before I am ready to enter. My eyes are red-rimmed and I don’t even feel better.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 953)

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