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Normal: Chapter 18   

What if they turn up earlier, while she and Shoshana are sitting there already?



Ishould have said something.

I really should have.

Over and over, Mimi replays the incident in her mind, a video clip on a loop. Raizy’s smirk, Kayla’s confusion. The rest of the class, glued to the drama.

She’s never seen Kayla look so… vulnerable. And yet… Kayla is so different, who says she even cared?

“Mimiii! Phone!” her brother Benny calls.

It had better not be Shoshana canceling their ice cream date. Mimi feels stifled, too hot, she needs to get out, take her mind off Kayla.

It’s not Shoshana. It’s Ella. Ella, who hasn’t called since… since everything had happened.

“Hey,” Mimi says cautiously. She forces a note of lightness into her voice. “What’s up?”

Ella’s not in the mood for small talk. “Mimi, wanna meet in Ice Swirl in, like, an hour? With me and Tzippy,” she clarifies quickly, and Mimi’s heart — which feels like it’s jumped a mile — sinks right down to her toes.

Oh, so this is not about making peace, getting the group together again. It’s about trying to win Mimi over to their side, make it three against one.

“I’m not interested in talking about what happened,” Mimi says tiredly.

“It’s nothing to do with that,” Ella says, sounding a little hurt. “We just wanna chill. It’s been ages…”

Mimi closes her eyes briefly. She’s so not in the mood for this; not interested in sneaking between Shoshana and the others. But… she can’t exactly say no. And what if they turn up earlier, while she and Shoshana are sitting there already?

Better to agree, set a time, and make sure Shoshana’s gone by the time the others arrive.

She takes a breath, makes a quick calculation. “Sure, I’d love to, but let’s do a little later, okay?”

“Eight thirty?” Ella proposes.

She’ll have an hour with Shoshana, that should be plenty. “Sounds good.”

Shoshana orders a waffle with three scoops of ice cream and elaborate toppings. “Don’t mention the word diet, okay?”

Mimi eyes her plate. “That kinda day, huh?”

“Yeah.” Shoshana raises an eyebrow at Mimi’s portion: a lone scoop of strawberry-cheesecake ice cream. “That’s all you’re gonna have? Gosh, this doesn’t look good.”

“Nah, it’s just — I’ll order more soon, maybe,” Mimi says vaguely. She will, when Tzippy and Ella come. “And meanwhile, I’ll sneak some of yours when you’re not looking!”

She swipes a spoonful of Belgian chocolate ice cream, licks it with exaggerated bliss.

“Ahh, truly, stolen ice cream is sweet,” Shoshana intones.

Mimi shrugs and inches Shoshana’s plate around to try the other flavors. In return, Shoshana grabs the strawberry-cheesecake ice cream and takes a giant spoonful.

“Hey, that’s, like, half my scoop!” Mimi says in mock protest.

“Oh, and here I was thinking we’d swapped portions,” Shoshana shot back, laughing.

Mimi giggles, waffle and caramel sauce melting on her tongue. It’s good to relax. Good to be out and do nothing, talk about nothing, simply have a good time together as if the world is light and fluffy as ice cream cones on a summer’s day.

But — she remembers — she has to keep an eye on the time.

There’s a small candy-striped clock on the wall above her head. Mimi twists in her seat to check the time, then bites her lip in annoyance when she has to do it again five minutes later.

“You in a rush or something?” Shoshana asks. A guarded note enters her tone.

Mimi stammers, stalling for time. “Um, no — no, really not — it’s just…” she casts around for a reasonable excuse. “Homework. I have so much to do tonight, and I told my mother I’d be home pretty soon.”

“Your mom?” Shoshana blinks. Mimi’s mother isn’t the hovering type. “Um, okay. So we can leave when we’re done.”

“Yeah.” Mimi shifts on the padded bench, trying to get comfortable. “What about you? No piles of homework to do?”

Shoshana shrugs. “I dunno, I’ll check when we’re home. Nothing crazy.”

Mimi feels a pang. How does Shoshana do it, just skim by, hardly noticing the sheer volume of work they’re expected to produce every single night?

“Lucky you.” Mimi pushes away the cup; what’s left of her ice cream has melted to liquid. Too unappetizing.

“Mm.” Shoshana’s playing with the remains of her waffle.

“Shosh?” Mimi’s heart rate speeds up. Please, please, don’t start a DMC now, I can’t do this, we don’t have time.

Shoshana raises her head, slowly. Her eyes are pooling.

No. No, just no.

Mimi takes a breath. I know you’re having a hard time with your sister, but can’t we just forget about it for a few minutes?

She bites back the words. “I need to leave now,” she blurts instead.

Shoshana opens her mouth, closes it again. She gives a short, stiff nod. Agonizingly slowly, she gathers the pile of dirty napkins, then goes to wash her hands.

Mimi twists in her seat. It’s late. Come on, come on. She has to leave, pretend to walk home, wait till Shoshana’s gone, then double back to get here before Tzippy and Ella arrive—

Shoshana stops to speak to someone at the other end of the room, signaling to Mimi one minute. Mimi grinds her teeth and tries to breathe.

“Okay, I’m done,” Shoshana announces, sliding into her seat again. “Let me just make a brachah acharonah….

The door chimes sound. Mimi’s eyes fly to the door. Two girls enter, one slim and chic in a short white winter jacket, the second shorter, with flyaway curls and eyes that don’t stop moving.

Tzippy’s eyes land on Mimi and then dart over to Shoshana, beside her. She stops short.

Mimi feels her heart thudding down to the floor.

Her friends have arrived.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 907)

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