| Moonwalk |

Moonwalk: Chapter 11

As told to Rochel Samet



wake up to noise.

Downstairs: peal of the doorbell, chatter of voices, excited exclamations.

Upstairs: shrieks of laughter, whirr of blow-dryer, zippers and snaps and rustling as Henny does her hair and helps Sara with her Queen Esther extravaganza.

Outside: booming music, wobbly voices singing off-key, drumbeats and groggers and rhythmic pounding under my skull.

It’s Purim.

I try to sit, flop back down.

Maybe I’ll feel better soon.

Yeah, and maybe Queen Esther will appear to point a golden scepter and magically cure everything.

By the time I get to the living room, I’m wiped.

“Libby, can you go deliver…” My mother’s words are lost in a blare of music from outside.

She appears in the doorway. “Libby?”

“Hi, Ma. Sorry. I can’t go anywhere. I don’t feel good.”

“Oh,” she says, disappointed. “I really need the help.”

“I wish I could,” I say lamely. She’s already calling Sara. A moment later Henny waltzes in, colored glitter streaked across her face. She ignores me completely.

Mid-morning, a chocolate arrangement arrives, the size of a small car. Sara and Tzvi shriek so loudly that I drag myself off the couch. Oh, right, from Zeesy.

“How adorable!” Ma gushes.

“Can I eat one, please, please?” Ari jumps up and down.

“No, we need to show Chaim,” Ma says. Ari pouts. “But after that, we’ll all have something yummy!”

Something yummy — and dairy, and sugary.

We’re not all going to try Zeesy’s adorable chocolates.



Ma cooked a ton for the seudah. Challos drizzled with icing and colorful sprinkles. Glazed salmon. Soup, schnitzel, three salads. She used sugar substitute and gluten-free ingredients for everything but the challah, which no one would’ve eaten gluten-free, so theoretically I should be enjoying this.

Henny thinks so, too. “Smile, it’s Purim!” she stage-whispers. Like I’m five or something.

The phone is ringing and there’s pounding on the door. Three bochurim stagger in, ranging from drunk to very drunk. I want to crawl into bed and instead I go to the kitchen on the pretext of helping Ma.

The phone rings again. Who on earth calls on Purim? In the middle of the seudah?

Ma gives me a quick, nervous look, dropping the ice-cream scoop. “Maybe it’s your results?”

My results. Oh. The blood test results from the infectious disease doctor.

“Hello… yes… yes,” Ma says. “Thank you… okay.”

I know what she’s going to say before she says it.

“Libby, the results came back negative for Lyme disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and all that. Baruch Hashem!”

My head is spinning.

“It’s not — then it isn’t an infectious disease?”

Ma smiled brightly. She’d determined not to pop the balloon. “No. Who knows? Maybe it was just a passing thing and it’ll blow over on its own?”

Purim optimism at its best.

I want to yell, It’s not true, something is wrong with me. This isn’t a headache or a cold. It’s real, it’s huge, and it’s killing me from inside.

But I’m confused. My stomach rumbles a little — of course, because I’m starving. I can’t eat normal food. And I have a headache, but that’s from the noise. I flex my wrists — they’re okay today, but then again, I haven’t been taking notes.

Is there something wrong with me?

Yes, whispers my heart, miserably.

Ma bustles around the kitchen, around me, around the heavy, silent fear slumped by the table. She sets a tray with plates of sugar-free ice cream, drizzles all but one with caramel sauce and garnishes mine with an extra cherry.

“Come, Libby, dessert,” she says, still in that overly cheery, determined voice. Like I’m five years old and having a temper tantrum, instead of sixteen and terrified.

From the dining room, someone starts singing, there is a rousing chorus, clink of spoons, ten people eating a dessert catered just for me. And me, lucky Libby who doesn’t have cancer, or thyroid disease, or rheumatoid arthritis — I lean my head on crossed arms, and let the tears come.

*Names and details changed to protect privacy

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 810)


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