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Normal: Chapter 28

“Getting ready,” Mimi says, taking a deep breath. “Um, I wanted to tell you… Kayla’s coming with us”


“Slight technical problem,” Tzippy announces on the phone.

Mimi yawns. 7:50 a.m. is too early for problems.

“My sister isn’t feeling well. She can’t drive us.”

Slight problem, ya think?” Mimi sits up, sweeps her hair back with one hand. “Um, so what are we doing? Weren’t we supposed to leave in, like, an hour?”

“Yup,” Tzippy confirms cheerfully. “I spoke to Ella, but apparently, Juanita doesn’t have a car.”

“Ha, ha.” Mimi’s hand drops. The makeshift ponytail tumbles over her shoulders. “Did you guys come up with any brilliant solution? And did anyone call Shoshana?”

“Not yet.” Tzippy answers both questions in one shot. “But maybe one of your parents could drive us?”

Her parents. They haven’t said a word about midwinter plans, about Kayla. Not since Ma asked her, that one time. They’re disappointed, she knows, but they’re not going to force anything.

Only… they’re not going to be happy to drive her and her friends, minus Kayla, either.

There’s only one option.

“I can ask my parents,” Mimi says slowly. “They’ll probably even say yes. But…” she adds, over Tzippy’s whoop of joy, “it’s going to come at a price.”

Kayla looks bewildered at the invitation.

“Snow tubing? Today? Why?”

Mimi’s fingers tighten on the doorframe. “Um, because it’s fun? And it’s vacation? And that’s what you do on vacation… go on trips.”

Kayla’s face clears and brightens. “So your friends are coming too? And we would all go together?”

She looks so happy, Mimi can’t meet her eyes. “Yes. But we need to leave, like, in an hour. You’ll be ready?”

Kayla’s fully dressed, and she’s still in a long skirt and sweatshirt. But knowing her sister, getting ready will be more complicated than throwing together some food.

Kayla holds up a notebook. “I’ll have to reorganize my vacation schedule, but that shouldn’t take long,” she informs Mimi. “And since you still need to get dressed, I assume we will be ready at approximately the same time.”

“Great.” Mimi spins around. Now for the hard part.

Her mother is scrambling eggs, and there’s a pile of crusty bagels in the middle of the table. Vacation breakfast, yum.

“Ready for snow tubing?” Ma greets her.

“Getting ready,” Mimi says, taking a deep breath. “Um, I wanted to tell you… Kayla’s coming with us.”

Ma looks surprised, delighted, and shocked, all at the same time. “Mimi… I’m so happy. Thank you. I’m sure she’s really excited.”

“She is.” Mimi licks her lips, hating what she’s about to do. “And also… basically, our ride fell through. Tzippy’s sister was supposed to drive us, but she’s not feeling well, and that means that she can’t do the trip…” Calm down. “So… I just wanted to know if you could maybe drive us there in an hour.”

Ma blinks. For a long moment, she doesn’t answer. Tension stretches Mimi’s nerves taut.

“I would have been happy to,” Ma says, slowly. “But I can’t manage today. Benny has an appointment this morning.”

Mimi’s heart drops. She did it — invited Kayla — all for nothing.

“But…” Ma goes on, “I know Ta’s got a pretty flexible schedule today. Maybe you can ask him?”

“Ask him what?” Ta walks in, car keys jangling, grocery bags swinging from his wrist. “Mimi! Isn’t it a little early for you to be up on vacation?”

“For snow tubing, anything,” Mimi says, trying to smile.

“Ahh, snow tubing, of course,” Ta says. “When are you girls off?”

“Um, well, that’s the thing.” Her mouth is dry.

“Ephraim, the girls’ ride canceled on them,” Ma breaks in. “They wanted to know if you have the time to drive them to the snow tubing place. Kayla’s going along, Mimi and her friends invited her,” she adds, with a significant look that Mimi can’t possibly miss.

“Kayla?” Ta’s eyebrows dance for a moment, then settle. He gives her a searching look, one endless moment, then seems to let something go. “So that makes how many of you?”

“Five.” Mimi hardly dares to breathe.

Ta nods. “Okay, I’ll take you.”

“Oh, wow, Ta, really? Thanks a million,” Mimi says. Phew, a thousand times over. “I’ll call my friends now. Thanks so, so much!”

Fifty minutes later, they’re ready to go.

“Kayla, you get carsick, no?” she says casually, as they reach the car. “It’s a long trip… maybe you should sit up front with Ta?”

“That would probably be best,” Kayla agrees.

Phew, again. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

Once they arrive, though, there’s no pretending it’s just the four of them.

“This way to the lodge,” Ella sings out.

Inside, it’s warm and cozy, and Mimi instantly craves her thermos of hot cocoa. Kayla makes a beeline for the seating area. “I’ll wait here and read,” she tells them.

Mimi and her friends look at each other.

“But we have to go to pay,” Tzippy says, finally.

“I don’t plan to do the snow tubing,” Kayla informs them. “I have my book. I’ll enjoy the change of scenery and catch up on my reading in the warmth.”

“Oooh, but Kayla, snow tubing is so much fun!” Tzippy says.

“Yeah, you can read another time,” Ella joins in.

“Leave her, if she wants to read, who cares?” Mimi mutters, too quietly for them to hear.

Shoshana hears, though, and gives a tiny snort of laughter.

“I prefer to read,” Kayla insists, and eventually, even Tzippy shrugs and gives up.

They’re lining up to pay, and Mimi is gratified to see that they’ve made the right choice: a bunch of their classmates are here as well. Breindy, Chedvi, Ayala, Toby…

And then a familiar voice assails her.

“Oh. My. Gosh. She came here to read. Mimi, your sister is seriously something else.” Raizy Reich marches by, Mali giggling behind her.

Seriously something else.

It’s not a compliment.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 917

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