Ma sounds distracted. There’s something else on her mind. “Mimi, how would you like to join us on the Philadelphia trip with Kayla?”
what’s happening with Philadelphia?” Mimi asks Kayla, when they sit down to study that evening.
Kayla shrugs. “I don’t know. Ma and Ta are discussing it. I’m sure they will inform me of their decision at the earliest opportunity.”
“Do you actually want to go?” Mimi asks, curious despite herself.
Kayla looks blank. “Want to? I suppose so, yes, although travelling to a strange place to compete against 19 other contestants may be a rather lonely experience.”
Mimi blinks. Kayla cares about lonely?
“But it is irrelevant as of now, and we’re wasting valuable study time,” Kayla says, tapping Mimi’s open textbook. “And finals are beginning shortly, so we really cannot afford to waste time.”
Finals. It’s a rock in her stomach.
Mimi sighs, leans forward, and forces her mind to focus.
Two full hours of studying; she deserves a break. And Tzippy’s calling; perfect timing.
Mimi unwraps a chocolate bar and settles onto her bed, cross-legged.
“Someone should abolish finals one of these days,” she announces into the phone.
“And a wonderful evening to you, too, dear,” Tzippy chirps back.
“That, too.” Mimi’s tone is gloomy. “If you can call burying yourself under mounds of textbooks a wonderful way to spend an evening, that is.”
Tzippy makes a sympathetic sound in her throat. “Overworking, then?”
“Tell me about it.”
“Perfect. I need a walking partner; it’s a delicious evening. We’ll go to the park, walk around the lake, and come back, okay? Half an hour, max 40 minutes, and you’ll be able to study even better afterwards.”
“Hey, you don’t need to convince me,” Mimi giggles. “Meet you in five.”
Forty-five minutes later, she’s back, refreshed, and wondering why she doesn’t do this every day.
“You went walking?” Ma asks, looking down at Mimi’s sneakers and then up at her flushed cheeks.
“Yeah. It was amazing.” Mimi downs a cup of water. “Wow, I should do this more often.”
“Mm.” Ma sounds distracted. There’s something else on her mind. “Mimi, how would you like to join us on the Philadelphia trip with Kayla?”
“Um, what?” Mimi stares. Join the Philadelphia trip? Wait, so Kayla is going? And who is us? Ma and Ta are going with her?
“Ta and I are going to be taking her to the competition. And we thought it would be nice if you’d join us too.”
There’s something she doesn’t get about all this. “But why?”
“Why? Well, because you deserve a break, that’s number one.” Ma stops there. Mimi’s left wondering what the other reasons are.
She pictures her friends’ reactions, her classmates. Her and Kayla, off to the competition that Kayla’s going to join. What will they think? What will they say?
“The school won’t let me go,” she says.
“I already asked.” Ma offers a big smile. “They’re fine with it. It’s going to be during finals, so you and Kayla will take those tests afterwards.”
“Oh.” Mimi leans back against the counter, considers the possibility. “Um, what’s there to do in Philadelphia?”
“Thought you’d never ask.” Ma winks. “We’d be going for two days, stay in a hotel, there are nice kosher restaurants nearby… and some fun touring, stuff to do, shopping… you know, a mini-vacation.”
“Fun.” It really could be, Mimi decides. And watching the math competition? Well, who cares, as long as she’s not the one onstage answering the questions.
And two full days off school. That’s a bonus.
What about studying for finals, she nearly asks, but then she rethinks. Her parents haven’t forgotten that — definitely not. And they’ve invited her to come along anyway. Maybe she’ll study a little while she’s there, maybe not, but her parents trust her to figure it out. That’s what matters most.
When it’s something she loves, Mimi realizes, working hard isn’t a challenge.
Tova’s asked her to come for extra coaching this week; she’s playing a key role in the end-of-year performance.
“Let’s get that front layout full twist today, okay?” Tova says, in lieu of a greeting.
“Oh, for sure,” Mimi agrees. Today, she feels, she can conquer anything.
She warms up, does a couple of handsprings and then a regular layout as practice.
“Okay, let’s go.”
Gymnastics takes concentration. Mimi narrows her eyes, tries to focus. Put finals, friends, even Philadelphia out of her mind.
Concentrate. Let’s do this.
“Closer. Definitely closer,” Tova says, eyeing her movements critically.
“Really?” Mimi stops to take a drink and push a stray hair out of her eyes. “Like, it was kind of a full twist, no?”
“Nope. Maybe a three-quarters. But still better.”
“I guess it’s an improvement,” Mimi agrees.
By the end of the session, she still hasn’t done the layout-twist, but she feels great anyway. She’s going to get it, because she’s going to keep trying, and in the meantime, she’s going on a spontaneous vacation, two days off school, in the middle of finals, no less.
Okay, it’s going to be a bit… weird… with Kayla and everything, but who cares?
“Oh, I won’t be at next Wednesday’s session,” she tells Tova, on her way out the door. “I’m going to Philadelphia!”
(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 936)
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