Normal: Chapter 49| November 29, 2022
Mimi’s parents explain why Kayla switched schools. Mimi comes to accept the situation — and her sister
tudying parties shouldn’t have become a thing of the past. Why had she neglected her social life for so long? Okay, so she’s been studying with Kayla, busy with gym, hopping off to Philly… but seriously, finals are no fun at all without late night studying parties with her friends.
Mimi hugs her knees, keeping her head still while Ella makes some sort of complicated braid in her hair. Tzippy’s reading her notes out loud, stopping and starting as she tries to decipher her own scrawl.
Mimi closes her eyes, willing her mind to focus on the material. It’s Navi notes from the entire year, she’s reviewed this with Kayla, but it’s still so hard to remember it all. The seminary test, coming after two weeks of finals, is going to be tough.
“I don’t get it.” Tzippy looks up. “How does that answer Mrs. Schwartz’s question? It doesn’t sound like it has anything to do with it.”
“I think…” Mimi says slowly. She knows this; she and Kayla studied it together just yesterday. “I think, maybe, it’s from a Rashi somewhere? That Shimshon decided to do this because… because…” She’s lost the thought. So frustrating to still be struggling, no matter how hard she works to remember it all. “I’m not sure,” she finishes lamely.
Shoshana’s eyebrows crease together. “I think I actually have that question written down, but Mrs. Schwartz said something else. One sec…” She flips forward a page, reads out Tzippy’s question and the answer.
Oh, right. Mimi feels deflated. “I thought I knew it.”
“Hey, you know more than I did. I don’t remember a word of this, and you’ve been finishing half of Tzippy’s sentences.” Ella taps Mimi’s shoulder and hands her a small mirror. “Take a break for a minute and go check out your new look.”
“Oooh, you’re done? Yay.” Mimi positions herself with her back to Ella’s huge wardrobe mirror and holds up the handheld mirror to view the results from behind.
“Love it,” she pronounces. “That is such a cool braid!”
“Yeah. It’s a shame I didn’t put, like, colorful beads through it.”
“No, it’s not,” Mimi says. “I’m not going to school looking like we’re fifth- graders having too much fun.”
The others laugh.
Tzippy raps her knuckles against the leg of Ella’s desk. “Okay, enough, we need to keep going with this. You guys know the seminary test is at the end of next week?”
Yikes. Mimi’s stomach turns over. So soon? On the other hand, if she’ll never really feel ready, at least it should be over.
Shoshana takes over reading aloud. To Mimi’s surprise, she knows it — some of it, at least. Wow, she really knows it! How? When did this happen?
“I think we all need to start studying with Kayla,” Ella says, laughing.
A few months ago, she would have recoiled at the thought. But now, something makes her pause and ask slowly, “Hey. Why not? Why don’t we do it all together?”
The room goes quiet. Tzippy, Ella, Shoshana, they’re all looking at her like she’s said something strange. Mimi feels suddenly shy.
“I mean it,” she says, her voice small. “I mean… she studies with half the class, and it really helps them. You guys don’t want to?”
Tzippy finally answers. “Sure we would,” she says. “It’s just, you know, we thought you wouldn’t want it. Like, you’d be okay with it? You wouldn’t mind?”
You wouldn’t mind?
It’s a great question.
Mimi pictures the scene: her friends, herself, Kayla. Studying together — where? In Ella’s house? No way, it would never work. In her room? In Kayla’s?
The thought of studying in Kayla’s room reminds her of the disastrous group session she’d joined a couple months back. But with her friends, it would feel different. It wouldn’t be so awkward, wouldn’t make her feel so out of place.
Her friends, who’ve stuck by her, who don’t judge her, who aren’t comparing her with anyone else, sisters or otherwise. Her friends who respect Kayla for who she is, and love Mimi for being her own unique self.
With her friends, she thinks, it will be okay.
“I wouldn’t mind,” she says.
It’s liberating to think that’s the truth.
“You know that there’s just one problem with that,” Shoshana says, speaking up suddenly. Mimi looks at her curiously; Shoshana often thinks of the stuff that the others don’t.
“Why, what’s the issue?”
“You see the groups around Kayla’s desk every day in recess? Her slots must be totally full. Everyone grabs them. You think she’ll even have time to study with us?”
“Oooh, I hope so,” Tzippy says comically, indicating her Navi notes with a deep sigh. “We need her.”
“Don’t worry, you can share my slot,” Mimi reassures her friends, and then she wonders if she’s crazy.
Or if she’s changed so much, she’ll barely recognize herself once the year is out.
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 938)
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