I’m not regular Libby anymore, just some strange kid who flits in and out of school with the same tired excuses
As told to Rochel Samet
If there’s nothing wrong with me, there’s no reason for me to miss my cousin’s bar mitzvah kiddush. Five of my aunts pounce when I walk in.
“Libbbyyyyy! We haven’t seen you in ages!”
“Your mother said you haven’t been feeling well or something?” Aunt Breindy asks, pushing a cup of water into my hand. “You look a bit pale, doesn’t she, Esti?”
Aunt Esti surveys me critically. “Totally. Here, sit down.” She pulls over a chair.
“I’m fine,” I say, trying to inch away.
“Oh, you’re feeling better?”
“Did they ever figure out what was wrong?”
“Beet juice, it’s literally a miracle drink, you need to try it.”
Ma appears. “Here you are, Libby. Are you okay?”
Aunt Shoshi shakes her head. “Devora, I’m telling you, BEET JUICE, you’ll see, it cures everything...”
“Beet juice, shmeet juice.” Bubby joins the debate. “Plain water, that’s what teenagers nowadays need. Not those sugary drinks full of caffeine and who-knows-what.”
“And plenty of sleep, healthy food, and exercise,” Great-Aunt Hinda adds, nodding sagely. “How many times have I told my grandchildren, if you keep eating narishkeit and stay up till all hours, it will make you ill, chalilah?”
It’s stifling and if I faint now, they’ll probably revive me with beet juice.
“I’m going outside,” I mutter to Ma, and stumble to the door.
Behind me, Aunt Esti clucks, “Oy, nebach. You should see this doctor in Cornell, my baby had crazy reflux and he was the only one who could figure out...”
I duck outside. Beautiful silence.
I manage to get to school every day for a week, reveling in the normalcy. But somehow, things have changed.
Shana always looks surprised when I turn up. “You feeling better, Libby?” she asks one morning, a little doubtfully. She’s with Dina and Chaviva. When did those three become friends?
“Yeah, I’m good,” I say, uncomfortable. It’s like my whole identity has changed; I’m not regular Libby anymore, just some strange kid who flits in and out of school with the same tired excuses.
“You don’t look sick,” Dina says. What does that even mean?
“Did you try a doctor or something?” Chaviva chimes in. “I mean, if it was me, I would go nuts. I don’t know how you do it.”
I resist the urge to roll my eyes. “Um, like 50 doctors. But I’m feeling much better now.”
“You’re so brave,” Chaviva says admiringly, then she turns back to Shana and says something about the homework party last night, and they giggle. Dina’s still staring at me, though.
“Ugh, doctors don’t know anything, you need to try energy healing or something. My cousin does it and she’s amazing. I had this pain in my arm once and she literally just touched me and it went away. I’ll get you her number.”
The conversation is getting weirder by the minute. “Thanks, but I’m really okay,” I tell her. She shrugs, and slips seamlessly back into the conversation with the others. Suddenly, I’m alone again.
This is a total waste of time. But hey, I get to miss more school. Yippee.
To be honest, even getting out of algebra class has lost its glamor. And the car gives me a headache. Well, it’s all in my head anyway, ha-ha, excuse the pun.
“A chiropractor does work with the back muscles, it’s supposed to reduce pain all over the body,” Ma told me before we left. Yesterday we went to see some weird woman who waved stuff around and said that there are energy blockages in my blood flow, and she can cure it if I continue seeing her weekly for a few months. Oh, and each session is just a bargain at $250 per half hour. We didn’t book another slot.
It’s interesting that Ma and Ta are suddenly looking everywhere for solutions after that beady-eyed doctor said it’s all in my head.
Maybe they decided they prefer a sick daughter to a crazy one.
*Names and details changed to protect privacy
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 813)
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