| Teen Fiction |

Ruptured Plans

I was sprawled out on a deck chair in the backyard on an unseasonably warm winter day, a thrilling novel in one hand and a cold cup of juice in the other. The sun painted patterns on my forehead and I couldn’t have been more relaxed. I closed my eyes, letting the background noise fade as my daydreams took over. Half the school year was already over and winter break lay ahead of me; a blank canvas waiting to be filled. This year, we weren’t taking any major family trips. With the expected arrival of a new sibling, my mother needed all the extra help she could get, and my parents had decided that we would all stay home and pitch in to help in whatever way we could. I would still have part of the day to fill as I wished. To be honest, I didn’t mind the whole arrangement, especially since it was accompanied by an offer to go visit my grandparents in Eretz Yisrael for the summer instead of going to camp.

My daydreams were disturbed by the sound of someone calling my name from inside the house, but I made no move to acknowledge it. The noise got louder and louder until it became a bellow in my ears and I was forced to open my eyes. “What is it, Benjy?” I irritably asked my younger brother, annoyed at being disturbed. “Mrs. Lewin is on the phone for you,” he informed me, handing over the phone. The name sounded unfamiliar. I took the phone, intrigued.

“Hello, Raizy,” the voice at the other end greeted me. I definitely hadn’t heard that voice before and wondered who she was and what she wanted. “You’re probably wondering who I am and what I want,” this Mrs. Lewin person continued, reading straight off my brain. “I run an organization that arranges for girls to visit children and teens in the hospital. Some of our old volunteers have left us and I’m looking for new ones to replace them, especially girls who will be free during vacation.” I wondered how she knew that I was free over vacation but was too shy to ask. Instead, I asked the other question that was weighing on my mind. “What exactly does being a volunteer involve?”

I listened patiently as Mrs. Lewin explained exactly how the organization ran and what I would have to do if I decided to join. It sounded nice. It really did. But I wasn’t sure. I wasn’t the altruistic type who took on every chesed opportunity that came my way. I had already done the requisite amount of chesed hours the school required us to do during the year plus I was staying home to help my mother. Wasn’t that enough? I really didn’t fancy giving up my limited remaining free time to visit sick children and teenagers in the hospital, however noble the cause sounded. Besides, I’m more on the quiet side and making conversation with strangers would be forcing me out of my comfort zone — yet another reason to say no. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 739)

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Tagged: Teen Fiction