She rolls her eyes. “Don’t listen to me, then. But don’t come crying when things aren’t working out”
haim is home for Shabbos, wearing his chassan status like a new suit – mostly proud, and just a little self-conscious.
“How’s the countdown?” Henny asks him, exaggeratedly. “Getting nervous?”
Chaim shakes his head a little before responding. “Countdowns are for girls, ask Zeesy.” He still colors at her name, it’s cute.
“Leave him alone,” Sheva, married two years, orders, with a sidelong look at her own husband. “Soon it’ll be you, Henny.”
Henny rolls her eyes, but looks secretly pleased.
Shabbos meals with my whole family are fun. But I’m barely eating, because my stomach has been so strange recently, and I don’t want to be in pain all night again.
“Hey, Lib, you’ve been quiet.” Chaim leans forward to catch my eye.
“Oooh, so you remember me, great chassan? I’m honored.”
When I tease Chaim, he just laughs. Then someone changes the subject and the spotlight shifts from me, which is perfect. I’m contemplating the weird idea that my wrist hurts badly when I close my fingers around my fork. I switch to my other hand and try to eat that way, awkwardly. Nobody notices.
I’m so tired that I sleep the rest of Shabbos. Henny feels the need to comment when I come downstairs Sunday afternoon, half awake.
“Don’t you have anything to do with your life?” she asks, munching on a smoked-salmon-cream-cheese bagel that immediately makes me nauseous. “Eleventh grade must be a walk in the park for you. Go to bed early, sleep late...”
I touch the kettle; it’s long cooled since the morning. I flick it on. Need coffee.
Henny heaves a long-suffering, self-righteous sigh. “Wish I had all that time to sleep. Unfortunately, I have things to do.”
“Like eating bagels?”
She gives me a patronizing look. “Don’t be juvenile.”
She delivers a parting shot as she reaches for a bentsher. “I’m just saying, if you’re finding schoolwork hard, maybe you’re not putting enough time into it.”
She’s talking about the test I took last week. The test she overheard me telling Ma about. That test I did with my hand aching so badly that I could barely hold the pen – the test that I failed.
Ta was upset. Duh. I tried explaining about my wrist, but it sounded funny. Ma just said, “It’s alright, Libby, we understand, everyone has off days sometimes,” and they gave me this look like, It’s alright this time, but never let it happen again.
I get them, I really do. But Henny makes me angry.
“That is not your business.”
She rolls her eyes. “Don’t listen to me, then. But don’t come crying when things aren’t working out.”
(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 801)
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