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Normal: Chapter 52  

So these are Kayla’s new chevreh? How did they even get here? Was it planned?



havuos has always been Mimi’s favorite Yom Tov. The weather, the cheesecake, the break from end of year stresses, the chance to wear her new summer wardrobe… what’s not to love?

But when it falls out like it does this year, Shabbos and then two days of Yom Tov, it feels a bit much by the third afternoon.

Her hair’s a mess; there’s no way she’s parading around like this. Besides, she’s met up with her friends twice already. She’s finished the magazines and even the cheesecake has kind of lost its appeal.

Mimi stretches, yawns, and frowns. She’s not even tired; what’s she doing sprawled out on her bed, a pile of discarded magazines around her?

Maybe she’ll go see what Kayla’s doing. Kayla never sleeps in the afternoon; she claims it will ruin her — what does she call it again? Her sleep schedule? Her nightly routine? Her internal body clock?

Mimi shrugs. Okay, so she’ll never understand Kayla’s rigid schedules and stuff, and honestly, if it wasn’t the third day straight of this, she’d probably take a luxurious nap herself. Buuuut… Kayla’s around, and it’s company, someone her own age — or pretty much so. Maybe they can play a game or something.

A game? What’s gotten into her?

Three days of Yom Tov, that’s what.

Kayla’s not in her room. Mimi had expected her to be there, reading some heavy book or another. Funny.

She pads downstairs. It’s pretty quiet, the kids are out with friends, or in the backyard. From the dining room, though, she hears muted voices. Girls’ voices…

She pushes open the door and stares.

Kayla is sitting at the table, together with three of their classmates: Ahuvi, Sara, and Hadassah. They’re playing a game — Settlers of Catan? — and Kayla seems to be giving a long-winded explanation of the rules as they go along.

What, what, what —

“Oh, hello, Mimi.” Kayla looks straight at her. “I didn’t know you were home. I would have invited you to join. But in any case, we have four people already, so it wouldn’t work.”

“It’s okay,” Mimi says quickly. She’s still trying to figure out what, exactly, they’re doing here. Hadassah’s the class chesed icon, always looking out for everyone, she often schmoozes with Kayla when no one’s clustering around her for help with their work. And Ahuvi’s another sweet girl, kind of quiet, tagging along with some of the others but not really with too many friends of her own. And Sara… who was Sara close with, anyway? She was kind of friends with everyone but close with no one, Mimi supposes. She herself has nothing really to do with any of them.

So these are Kayla’s new chevreh? How did they even get here? Was it planned?

She’s sitting in the kitchen, snacking mindlessly, when Kayla comes over, apparently having left the game for a few minutes.

“So, how come they’re here? Hadassah and the others?”

Kayla looks at her blankly. “They came to visit.”

“Oh.” Mimi feels like an idiot. “Right, sure.”

“They actually wanted me to come on a walk with them but it didn’t appeal to me. So they agreed to stay here, and I suggested playing a competitive strategy game.” Kayla inclines her head curiously. “Why did you come in before? To join us?”

“Nooo… I didn’t even know you were all there. I was just… you know, bored.”

“Well, if you would like to play a game, I can explain to them that family comes first. Obviously, I would need to prioritize you.”

“No, no,” Mimi protests. Family comes first — that makes her feel awful. Has she ever prioritized Kayla over her friends? And this, Kayla’s first time ever having a group of friends over, of course she’s not going to ruin this shining moment for her sister.

Besides, how awkward would it be if Kayla sent one or all of her friends away so that Mimi could join the game?

She stifles a snort.

“It’s complicated managing both family and friendships,” Kayla says, contemplatively. “That’s why, originally, I planned to have you as my friend, as opposed to other classmates. That way I wouldn’t have conflicting priorities.” She pauses. “However, it seems that cultivating friendships is a balance between concerted efforts and allowing things to develop in a natural way, and therefore I’ve concluded that other classmates have actually turned out to rate higher on the levels of friendship model — according to Dunbar, I mean.”

Mimi doesn’t follow all of this, but it’s enough to make her feel amused and sad, both at the same time.

So she’d been Kayla’s first choice of a friend. That was sweet. Ma had once said something like that, insisting that Kayla liked her, wanted to be her friend. At the time, it had just sounded… strange.

But now, hearing Kayla’s grand conclusion, that Sara and Ahuvi and Hadassah have made it onto Kayla’s friends list, while all the efforts to become closer with Mimi hadn’t panned out… the thought makes something pinch at her heart.

Can it be that she’s actually disappointed that Kayla doesn’t consider her a friend?

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Teen Pages, Issue 941)

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