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Normal: Chapter 32    

 “We need to be original for a change. We never come up with anything really different,” Toby remarks



iss Spiegel,” Raizy announces, with that tone of voice that somehow draws everyone’s attention. “She’s the perfect person to prank on Rosh Chodesh Adar, because she’s not the type to run and call the principal. Plus, she’s giving us that huge test on Rosh Chodesh, and I totally have no patience to study.”

Mimi’s lips turn up in a smile. Something that would get the history test cancelled is not something she’ll complain about. Even if she feels a twinge of guilt — Miss Spiegel tries so hard, she probably spends hours preparing every lesson, and Raizy’s plans aren’t generally particularly sensitive to others.

“So what’s the plan?” Breindy asks, curiously.

“We need to be original for a change. We never come up with anything really different,” Toby remarks.

Raizy frowns at her. Last year’s shtick, Mimi remembers, had been her brainchild as well. “Well, maybe you have a really original idea for us?” she says sweetly.

Toby shrugs, undaunted. “I don’t, I’m just saying, let’s try think up something that hasn’t been done before. That’s all.”

Raizy’s nose wrinkles delicately. “If you don’t have an idea to offer…” she lets the sentence dangle.

Kayla looks up from something she’s writing. “I don’t believe this conversation is actually relevant,” she says loudly. “Weren’t we told this morning that no interruptions to our daily schedule will be permitted, even on Rosh Chodesh Adar?”

Mali gives a loud groan, and Raizy rolls her eyes before answering in an exaggeratedly slow, patient voice. “Of course they said that. They say it every year. It doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything.”

“Of course it does.” Kayla’s lips are set, stubborn. “That’s what rules are for. If the principal has told us that class time may not be interrupted, then we can’t do whatever shtick it is that you’re planning. It isn’t allowed.”

“Oh, heaven help us,” Raizy says, looking up at the ceiling dramatically.

Breindy tries to help out. “They say it every year, Kayla, it’s not a big deal.”

“But—” Kayla tries again.

“Forget it,” Raizy says in disgust. “We’ll discuss it another time. We don’t need any goody-goodies around getting in the way.” She tosses an empty bag of chips at the trash can, missing it completely.

“You should pick that up,” Kayla points out.

Mali giggles.

“I’ll leave it for you to do,” Raizy retorts. “That’s what goody-goodies are for, huh?”

There’s a collective intake of breath.

Mimi feels sick.

And then, just in time, Mrs. Stern walks in to start class, and the moment is over before anyone has to respond.


Chumash class is a kind of strange roller coaster for Mimi.

Up: relief that she’s been saved from having to say anything, do anything, about Raizy’s nasty remark to Kayla.

Down: that awful plunge as she realizes that it’s gonna happen again, and again, as long as Kayla continues to open her mouth and say the stupidest things in front of Raizy and everyone else. (And how long can she just ignore it? What should she do?)

Up: Mrs. Stern launching into her summary of last lesson, and realizing that somehow, unbelievably, she knows this stuff.

Another up, a loop, a superhigh: raising her hand to offer an answer to Mrs. Stern’s review question. That agonizingly long moment while the teacher cocks her head to listen, pauses before responding. And then her wide smile.

“E-xactly. Excellent, Mimi! I can see you’ve really been paying attention.”

Mimi has to bite the inside of her cheek to stop herself from beaming back. But she’d reviewed this with Kayla just last night, and finally, it seems, the things she’s learning are starting to stick.

“So, let’s move on to the next pasuk,” Mrs. Stern says briskly, and she launches rapid-fire into the lesson. Mimi struggles to get everything down, eventually stops bothering to write. She’ll catch up from Kayla’s perfect notes later, and this way it’s easier for her to understand.

Exactly three minutes before class ends, Mrs. Stern stops talking, and draws a sheaf of papers from her bag.

“Girls, I have here, the results of the pop quiz last week. Most of you did an excellent job. The rest of you, please remember how important it is to constantly review the material that we’re learning, not only before a major test. That’s the best way to ensure that you really retain it, that you internalize the messages and the limudim — and that you can do well on a surprise quiz, too, of course.” Mrs. Stern gives a quick smile. Mimi sinks down in her seat. Pop quizzes are the worst. Even with all the work she’s been doing, she’ll be shocked if she managed a passing grade on that one.

A peek at the paper confirms her fears — 40%. And no comment from Mrs. Stern.

Mimi’s heart sinks. Just when she was starting to feel better about things, about schoolwork, about how well it was going studying with Kayla.

She looks back at her notes, thinks of the smile Mrs. Stern gave at the beginning of class, when she’d offered the right answer to a review question. Maybe things are going better. Maybe she doesn’t have to let this one score on a pop quiz pull her down. So she didn’t do so well here; she’s still doing a lot better than she used to. And there’s always the next quiz to look forward to.


Mimi almost smiles to herself, when a movement catches her eye. The bell has rung, but Kayla, instead of staying at her desk to prepare for the next class, is heading for the door, a steely look on her face.

Uh oh.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 921)

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