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Normal: Chapter 14

"It’s just, you know, people expect their friends to share stuff…" she trails off. At the other end of the line, Shoshana is cold, silent


Mimi’s not the leader type.

She likes being part of things. One of the crowd. She’s not the one planning get-togethers or calling to coordinate things. That’s more Ella’s type, or Tzippy’s.

Today, though, she feels like if she doesn’t do something fast, their tight little circle is just going to splinter apart.

“Look, I’m not telling you what to do, but—” Mimi stops. She was telling Shoshana what to do. Very insistently. No studying, just chilling, she’d told Tzippy and Ella. We need to relax a little.

Relax. Right. Totally.

And when, exactly, was she going to study for Chumash makeup test? Or come up with some kind of essay for Miss Spiegel?

Mimi slides down until she’s lying on her back, feet dangling over the edge of the bed. Forget schoolwork, these are her friends.

“It’s just so… weird. Like, what do I even say?”

Mimi twists a ponytail holder around her finger. “Listen, they’re going to find out. Today, tomorrow, you know, things get around. And when they do, they’ll be… upset. That you didn’t say anything to them.”

“Seriously? That’s what they’ll care about?” Shoshana’s voice rises a pitch. “Not about how hard this is for Dina? Or for me?”

Mimi sighs, tosses the ponytail holder onto her desk. “Of course they’ll feel bad… it’s just, you know, people expect their friends to share stuff…” she trails off. At the other end of the line, Shoshana is cold, silent.

“Forget I said anything,” Mimi says, finally. “Come over if you want, no pressure. The others will be here at nine.”

Okay, maybe her plan had been a little unrealistic. Get her friends all in the same room, have Shoshana open up to the others, end up closer than ever before. Ha. Now she wonders if Shoshana will even show up.

There are crinkle cookies cooling on the counter, yay. Nothing too exciting in the pantry, but potato chips are better than nothing. Maybe she can throw together a quick smoothie. Ella will like that.

Refreshments in order, Mimi plunks down on the plastic swivel chair behind her desk. She has exactly 40 minutes to make a dent in the mound of homework waiting for her before her friends arrive.


“It’s been forever since we were here last,” Ella says. Her eyes travel around the room: cream walls, soft peach furniture with a matching rug. The white-and-gold desk lamp Mimi had begged her parents to buy years ago, bulletin board stuffed with camp pictures and cute sayings, oversized clock on the wall.

“Well, we usually hang out by you, Ella,” Tzippy points out. She bites into a fudgy crinkle cookie and exhales. “Ahh, Mimi, what a treat. By Ella these would be whole wheat and sugar free.”

“Hey!” Ella fakes a pout, making a grab for Tzippy’s cookie. “Who’s the one who keeps stealing my healthy muffins, huh?”

Tzippy crams the rest of the cookie in her mouth and offers Ella a one-armed hug. “Just kidding. We love you even if you have an agenda to make health freaks out of all of us.”

Mimi smiles, watching the banter from the vantage point of her bed. This is what she’s been missing; just being around her friends, the banter, the fun. She glances over at Shoshana, and the smile slides away. Shoshana came, but she hasn’t said a word.

“So, what’s on the agenda?” Tzippy asks Mimi. “I mean, besides for eating crinkle cookies, of course.”

Mimi shrugs. “No agenda. We’re here to chill. Eleventh grade is too stressful, I figured we could do with a spa day.”

Ella’s eyes sparkle. “Massages, anyone?”

“No, let’s do each other’s nails,” Tzippy suggests. “Mimi, what colors d’ya have?”

“Nothing that Mrs. Schwartz will let pass,” Mimi says languidly. “No one else feeling lazy? I just want to, you know, sit and do nothing. I feel like we never get to do that.”

“Totally, it’s been so busy,” Tzippy agrees. “I don’t even know where all my time goes, it just seems to disappear somehow. Tests…”

“Homework, shopping, sleep,” Ella supplies.

“Helping out at home, meeting friends,” Tzippy continues. She looks over at Shoshana. “And, like, getting ready for your sister’s wedding, huh? Things must really be getting crazy by you.”

“By me?” Shoshana jerks her hand away from the cookies, as if stung. “Uh, I mean—” her eyes dart in Mimi’s direction. “You know what it’s like,” she says, finally.

Mimi gives her friend a pointed look. Tell them. You have to tell them. They’re gonna hear from somewhere else, anyhow. What game are you playing?

“Hellooo, everything okay?” Ella asks. Her tone is teasing but her eyes narrow, as she looks from Shoshana to Mimi and back again. Mimi’s fingers tighten around her throw pillow. Ella hates secrets; she’s forever obsessing about being left out of anything.

“I just realized, I really have to go now,” Shoshana mumbles. She wraps a scarf around her neck and zippers her coat. “See you, guys, have a great time.”

Mimi jumps up. “I’ll walk you to the door.”

When they’re safely downstairs, she bites her lip. To say something? Not to say something? Shoshana knows her opinion already.

“I know what you think, that I’m being ridiculous, I should just say something,” Shoshana says, reading her mind. “I know, okay? But I… I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.”

She disappears into the blustery night. Mimi watches her go, then turns slowly to go back to her room.

Shoshana acting strange, Ella getting hurt, Tzippy all curious and concerned, what’s going on with Shoshana, should we do something.

And she, Mimi, caught in the middle, unable to stop the disaster that’s waiting to happen.

To be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 903)

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