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Teen Fiction: It’s Time

After wishing her friend “mazel tov,” Michal headed over to do her job. She assured herself that Bina’s lack of enthusiasm must have been her imagination

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“Five o’clock?” Michal repeated. “No problem. I’ll see you then.”

“Looking forward!” Bina replied, before hanging up the phone.

Michal was certain that she would have plenty of time to get ready on Sunday afternoon. She would do her homework, help her mother by playing with the younger kids or washing dishes, and around four o’clock she would start preparing to leave. She was invited to Bina’s younger sister’s bas mitzvah party. Michal knew Shevi from the hours she had spent at Bina’s house over the years. I remember when Shevi was six! Michal smiled to herself. It would be fun to come early and set up the centerpieces with Bina before the guests arrived at 5:30.

Now, though, it was time to get ready for Shabbos.

“Michal?” her mother called up the stairs. “It’s already three-thirty, are you still coming?”

Michal closed her book with a bang and stood. “Sorry, Ma! I’m coming now.” She was supposed to read chapters seven and eight for homework. Of course, since she loved to read, she had completed all of her other homework and left the best for last. The interesting plot, however, had drawn her in. She hadn’t even noticed that she was starting chapter 12 until her mother’s voice reached her.

She ran down the stairs. She had offered to watch Shmuly and Penina when she finished her homework, so that her mother could get some work done. Now it was later than she had planned, but if she watched the kids until 4:15, she should still have enough time to get ready for the bas mitzvah.

“Okay, gotta go up to my room now!” she informed her adorable brother and sister.

“Cwean up time,” Penina said, trying to fold the game board with the pieces still on it.

“No, Penina,” Shmuly told her. “You’re going to break it!” He tried to yank the board out of her hands. Michal intervened, and put all the game parts into the box. Then she brought the kids to the den where her mother was waiting.

After starting to get ready at 4:20, Michal only managed to finish at five o’clock… and that was with rushing! There was still the walk to the shul, which she hoped to do in ten minutes. Bina probably wouldn’t even notice that she was ten minutes late.

Twelve minutes later, Michal entered the simchah room of Khal Nachlas Yosef. Bina handed her a box of centerpieces and pointed to the tables at the far end of the room. After wishing her friend “mazel tov,” Michal headed over to do her job. She assured herself that Bina’s lack of enthusiasm must have been her imagination. There’s no reason for Bina to be annoyed. She’s probably just busy…


It was a few weeks later that Michal was asked to join a group of her friends at Zahava’s house on Shabbos afternoon. “I got this amazing new game,” Zahava explained, “and it can only be played with exactly six people.”

“So, who’s coming?” Michal questioned.

“Well, me, you — if you say you can — Faiga, Bina, and Rena, so far. I still have to ask Kaila, but I’m sure she’ll want to come.”

Michal grinned. “Count me in!”

“Great,” Zahava replied. “We want to start at three. Please be on time.”

As Michal walked away, she wondered why Zahava had sounded somewhat cautious in that last sentence.


Shabbos afternoon found Michal sitting in her favorite seat on the couch, reading the latest novel. Her family’s meal had ended at two, and it barely took five minutes to walk the few blocks to Zahava’s house. She had plenty of time to read. At 2:45 her mother walked into the living room.

“Michal, are you leaving soon?”

Michal glanced at her watch. “In about ten minutes. Why?”

“Can you take Shmuly to his friend on your way to Zahava? You know where the Wassers live.”

“Sure,” Michal agreed.

“Maybe leave a little early,” her mother added, “to leave time for the extra stop.”

“Mmhmm,” Michal mumbled noncommittally, returning her attention to her book.

At 2:53, Michal jumped up. “Shmuly!” she called. “Come put on your coat!” Shmuly raced into the room, and grabbed his coat. A minute later, they were on their way. Great, Michal thought, I’m right on schedule, like Zahava wanted.

It turned out that Shmuly did not walk quite as fast as Michal. It also took a few minutes for Yoni Wasser to open the door and lead Shmuly inside. Still, she was almost on time. Surely no one would mind if she came less than 15 minutes late. She might not even be the last one to arrive.

When Zahava opened the door, Michal noticed her quick glance at her watch and her slight frown. But no one commented on her lateness before starting to play. If people were actually getting annoyed about her tendency to come a little bit later than they’d asked, which was the impression she was getting, maybe they were just not being flexible enough. She never kept people waiting for too long.


“Why?” Michal asked her friend. She was genuinely hoping to clarify why her friends were annoyed with her.

“It’s just… it’s our time,” Bina informed her, somewhat uncomfortable. “I don’t want to say, ‘It’s the principle,’ because that’s not quite it. It’s like, we want our time to be respected. And we want to trust you when you tell us that you will be on time.” She trailed off, “At least that’s how I feel…”

Michal was uncertain. “What’s a few minutes? I really don’t come that late!” she insisted.

“I guess not.” Bina shrugged. “So maybe you’re right.” Even as she said it, though, she and Michal both knew that she didn’t truly believe it.


“Michal, my mother is driving me to production practice tomorrow night. Do you want a ride?” Rena offered.

Michal thought for a minute. “What time are you leaving?”

“We’ll be passing your house at 6:50, if you want. We won’t be able to wait around, though. If we leave later than that, I’ll be late, and I can’t do that as dance head.”

“That’s actually the perfect time. The Feldsteins, who live next door to me, asked me to babysit until 6:45. I told her I wasn’t sure, because I would need to leave by 6:30 if I have to walk to school for practice. If I have a ride with you, I would have five minutes to run home and get a drink before you arrive.”

“I’m glad it works out.” Rena smiled and then added nervously, “Just… in case you aren’t ready, we really will have to leave without you.”

“I totally get it,” Michal assured her. “But it’ll be fine. I won’t leave anything to do in those five minutes except grabbing my water bottle. I really appreciate this!”

Later that night, Michal spoke to Mrs. Feldstein. “It turns out that I can come tomorrow. As long as you get back at 6:45, I’ll be able to go straight to production practice, right on time.”

“Thank you, Michal. I was concerned that I would not be able to find a babysitter. See you tomorrow.”


At 6:30, Michal informed her young charges that they had to finish the game and clean up, because Mommy and Tatty would be home soon. The three children bargained for one more turn each, to which she assented.

By 6:40, the game was in the box, and Michal was holding her coat. When her watch ticked to 6:44, she grew nervous. Keeping one eye on the kids, she called Mrs. Feldstein. No answer.

At 6:49, Rena called to tell her they were outside. Michal had to tell them to leave without her. Now she’d have to walk the half-hour to school.

Mrs. Feldstein entered the house one minute later. “Thank you so much, Michal. Sorry about the time. I was on the phone and it took a few minutes to hang up.”

Michal nodded silently. She realized, at that moment, that Mrs. Feldstein was only five minutes late, but it had cost Michal much more than that.

(Originally featured inMishpacha Jr., Issue 732)

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Tagged: Teen Fiction