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Normal: Chapter 19

Mimi can’t help but snort. So Ella. But on the tail of the momentary amusement comes a rush of anger: come to terms?


The silence is thicker than the congealed mass of leftover syrup on Shoshana’s plate.

“This — I didn’t plan it,” Mimi blurts. She looks at Shoshana’s stricken face, then Ella’s stony one. “I mean, I did, we did plan to meet, separately that is, but I didn’t mean for everyone to end up meeting together…”

She’s making it worse.

Shoshana grabs her bag. “I’m going,” she says, looking devastatingly close to tears.

“No, wait, you should stay,” Mimi says automatically. The others are quiet. Too quiet.

Come on, Ella, Tzippy, seriously? Can’t you guys grow up?

“I guess you can stay,” Tzippy finally mumbles. “It’s dumb to fight like this, anyway. We’re not in kindergarten.”

Ella sits down stiffly on the other side of table, talking in a detached tone without meeting anyone’s eyes. “We’re not fighting,” she says disdainfully. “We just… need to come to terms with what happened.”

Mimi can’t help but snort. So Ella. But on the tail of the momentary amusement comes a rush of anger: come to terms? Seriously. And just how long, exactly, is that supposed to take? When will the coming to term actually take place? How?

What are Ella and Tzippy waiting for, maintaining a Cold War silence rivaling whatever Miss Spiegel was going on about last History class?

Shoshana’s still frozen, arms wrapped protectively around her bag, and the look on her face makes something inside Mimi finally snap.

“Listen, you can call it what you want, but it doesn’t make it okay,” she blurts. It doesn’t feel like her own voice, this can’t be Mimi talking, what’s going on? What happened to live and let live, lie low, wait for things to pass

Maybe she’s learning from experience.

Maybe things won’t just pass if she doesn’t stand up and do something.

Mimi talks, hard and fast and face flushed. “Fighting, not fighting, I don’t care. We’re friends, best friends, and we’re people, human beings who make mistakes. You know my sister Kayla, she reads these books on friendship, quoting them as if they’re a science. Five ways to make friends. Six types of relationships. Seventeen hundred habits of highly popular people, whatever.” She pauses for a rapid breath, plunges back in. “But it — it isn’t about rules. It’s not about who’s right and who’s wrong, and we’re allowed to mess up and come clean and just get over it, just because. Because that’s what friends do.”

“Mimi…” Ella starts to say, but the faucet’s open and she’s not finished yet.

“We make mistakes. I know I did. Like, I should’ve told you about Kayla… in advance. But I couldn’t. I just couldn’t. So yes, I understand Shoshana. Sometimes it’s hard to say what you need to say. It’s easier to just wait and let things play out. And it’s hard when you’re… going through stuff. That’s when you need your friends the most.”

She lets the words hang in the air, drift and settle.

Tzippy sinks into a chair, shrugging off her coat with a sigh. “Okay, Mimi. You’re right. Let’s get over this stupid — thing — and just, you know, move on.”

Shoshana has a hand over her mouth. She looks like she’s crying.

Ella drums a hand on the table. “Yeah, okay, I get it too,” she says. “I just… fine. You win.”

We win,” Mimi says.

Shoshana takes a deep breath. “Thanks, Mimi. Sorry, all of you. I know… it wasn’t easy. I just — I couldn’t, like Mimi said. But we’re good now, right?”

She talks all in a rush, and the others nod awkwardly, and Mimi is half-elated, half-wondering if this could really have done it, or if something tiny is gonna spark the whole split again.

A waitress hovers near Tzippy’s shoulder. “Are you girls planning to order tonight?” she asks snootily.

It’s not really funny, but somehow, the four of them are suddenly laughing.

“Yeah, yeah, sure,” Ella says finally, getting up to fetch menus.

It’s just the same as always: Ella and Mimi arguing over whether shakes are really considered healthy, Tzippy begging everyone to split with her because she can’t choose between so many things, and Shoshana —

Mimi gives her friend a quick glance. Shoshana’s thumbing through the menu, but she’s not going to order anything; not after that waffle, anyway. When the others order, she asks for a Sprite.

“I’ll just keep you company, I guess,” she says, trying to smile.

Mimi puts her spoon down. They’re friends again… but there’s still something, something, hanging in the air between them.

Something that will dissolve over time? Or something more than that?

They talk, eat ice cream, sample each other’s confections, head over to the counter to pay. At the door, Ella leans in and hugs them each in turn.

“Good to be friends again,” she says, winking.

Mimi hugs her back, but she wonders: Is it really that simple?

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 908)

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