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Normal: Chapter 41   

They go through this every year — Ella insisting on one last get-together before she and her parents leave for their annual exotic Pesach hotel experience


“Tuesday,” Ella announces. “We’ll get together in the evening. Who’s hosting?”

Mimi digs her hands into the pockets of her sweatshirt. Not exactly in line with uniform regulations, but it’s the last day before Pesach vacation, so no one’s gonna say anything today.

Shoshana leans against the banister and talks to the ceiling. “Who’s hosting, she asks. Because we’ll all be sitting like queens that day, getting our manicures and going for coffee…”

“No, no, no,” Tzippy cuts in. There’s a grin in her voice. “You’re forgetting, we’re packing, it’s hard work. And, um, the smell of Juanita’s cleaning products… you don’t know how annoying that is.”

“Guys! Cut it out,” Ella says, giggling. “That’s not the point. We’re leaving Wednesday morning, so if you wanna get together before, it’s got to be Tuesday.”

“I’ll put it on my schedule,” Shoshana intones solemnly.

Ella rolls her eyes.

Mimi’s lips twitch upwards. They go through this every year — Ella insisting on one last get-together before she and her parents leave for their annual exotic Pesach hotel experience. Ma will be fine with it; she’ll help out the rest of the time.

“So, where are we gonna meet?”

It’s the one night a year that Ella won’t host them; Juanita and a crew of her cousins and siblings come to Pesach-clean the entire house, Ella’s mother is packing an entire new wardrobe into suitcases, and it’s not the place for a chilled get-together.

“Tzippy’s place, no?” Mimi asks. That’s where they usually hang out when Ella’s house isn’t available. As Tzippy says, there are enough people around in her house that no one really notices an extra three.

A shadow crosses Tzippy’s face, and she gives a reluctant shake of the head. Ella opens her mouth to say something, frowning deeply, when someone plops down on the step below Mimi and says, “Hi, Ella, Tzippy, Shoshana, and Mimi. What’s up?”

Kayla. What timing.

“Hi, Kayla,” Shoshana says.

“Are you cold?” Kayla asks Mimi, staring at her sweatshirt.

“Cold? Um, I guess.” Mimi glances at Ella. She looks annoyed at the intrusion.

Kayla leans forward. “Did you know that according to scientific research, the theory of social thermoregulation, humans tend to gravitate toward social interaction to a greater degree when their body temperature is lower?”

“Wow, that’s so interesting,” Tzippy says.

Kayla beams.

Ella presses her lips together, gives Mimi a look. As if it’s her responsibility to get her sister out of the way so they can continue planning a get-together in peace.

“Hey, Kayla, I think maybe someone was looking for you before, to look over their history essay,” Ella says.

Mimi looks up sharply, and Shoshana raises an eyebrow. Ella smiles at both of them, sweetly but determinedly.

“Really? I was just in the classroom.” Kayla gets to her feet. “Do you think I should go and look for them?”

“Yeah, maybe,” Ella says.

“Ella…” Tzippy mutters, catching on.

Kayla gives the foursome a regretful look and gets to her feet. “I guess I’ll go and check, then.”

“You shouldn’t have done that,” Shoshana says quietly, once Kayla’s gone.

“I know, I know, but we need to talk, and we need privacy, if she hears us planning some party, she’ll wanna join,” Ella says. Her voice is impatient.

Mimi glances down the stairs. “That’s not fair,” she says. “Kayla’s gonna go looking for someone needing her help, and…”

“Plenty of girls want her to look over their work. It’s fine,” Ella brushes it aside. “And whatever, we’ll make it up to her, I just want to finish our conversation in peace and she’ll never leave us alone otherwise.”

Mimi bites her lip. Should she go after her sister? But that will just make things more awkward. And besides, Ella’s getting frustrated, and she doesn’t want to rock the boat with her friends again. She needs them; they need each other.

“Tzippy, you were saying…” Ella prods. But the bell rings, interrupting her. She heaves a sigh.

“Oh-kaaayyy, we’re gonna have to talk later.”


“Later” turns out to be a conference call, right in the middle of her study session with Kayla. Vacation, apparently, is not a good enough reason to skip their nightly review, although Mimi’s already decided that this is going to be her last night of schoolwork until the end of vacation. She needs the break.

“So about getting together in my house, I don’t think it’s gonna work,” Tzippy says. Mimi’s quiet, conscious of Kayla watching her.

“Hmm.” Ella sounds unhappy. “Shoshana, how about you?”

“You know my place, guys, it’s really not big enough.” Shoshana shares a small room with her sister; they don’t have much space.

“Mimi, then?”

Mimi sighs, catches at her ponytail, wrapping the hair around her finger. “I guess so,” she says. “Just… whatever. I hope we have enough privacy.” Her eyes flicker to Kayla again. It would be awkward, trying to make sure Kayla doesn’t gatecrash their little goodbye party.

“You have your own room. It’ll be fine,” Ella says. She sounds relieved. “I just really want us to get together before I go. We’ll be away for, like, two whole weeks.”

“Which is approximately forever,” Shoshana says, with a laugh.

“Yeah, how are we ever gonna manage without you, Ella?” Mimi adds. She’ll have to figure something out with Kayla. Her friendships are too important.

“Um, guys?” Tzippy says, her voice small. “I’m happy Mimi can host and everything… Just — I can’t promise I’ll make it.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 930)

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