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Teen Fiction: Out with the Old, in with the New

So, what do you say about the new girl?” Riva asks, settling herself deep into the couch, her feet dangling over the edge.

“Who, Esther? Nothing much,” I say. “I mean, she’s cute and pretty and definitely has personality.”

“Yeah, I know. She’s really something. Did you see how she was the only one who knew the answer to Mrs. Blum’s question? Wasn’t that, like, amazing?”

“Totally.” I shrug. It looks like Riva sees beyond her cuteness.

“So I invited Esther to join us to study for the Chumash test tomorrow. What do you say?”

There is nothing to say.

So she invited Esther. And what about me? Didn’t she care to ask? Don’t I have feelings too? Yeah, I know. Esther is the life of the party. She’s fun. She’s outgoing. She’s colorful. But the color of my cheeks suddenly drains from my face.

Leave it up to Riva. She doesn’t hesitate to approach anyone she thinks might need help, or to ask for help. I should be proud of my friend. Proud of her outgoing nature. Proud of her confidence, of her energy. But I’m not.

I am mad. Raging mad. It makes no sense. We’ve been friends practically since kindergarten. We have the same taste, wear the same clothes, read the same books, and even enjoy listening to the same music. I mean, Riva knows me. She knows I’m predictable. I like familiar. Anything new is threatening to me. I hate the unknown, the unfamiliar. It sends shivers up my spine. Even Shabbos guests sometimes set me on edge. So like how in the world am I supposed to study together with Esther?

But Riva has a strong sense of justice and she defends herself. She says it’s a normal thing to invite someone to join a study session. Especially someone who has joined our class midyear. That it’s good to have a change. That Esther won’t bite. That I might even enjoy it. But I feel challenged. I feel threatened.

But I agree that she can join us.

I know that life doesn’t have to be fair. But this really isn’t. For the next few days every conversation revolves around Esther. Esther this and Esther that. And didn’t you hear that Esther is running for class president? No, I didn’t. Thanks for being the bearer of good news.

How did the tables turn? I have no idea. But my disadvantage unexpectedly turned into an advantage. Esther started taking a liking to me. A real liking. It’s Esther who calls me and we speak into the wee hours of the night. It’s Esther who asks me to be her lab partner and it’s Esther who pops by my house every Shabbos afternoon.

Riva? Well Riva finds herself at the sidelines, an onlooker to the relationship that’s growing between me and Esther.

A cold war erupts. No, we’re not actually fighting. We just withdraw from having any meaningful conversation. We adopt a disinterested relationship. When Riva passes me in the hallway, I stand rooted to the spot. My cheeks grow red. I can’t move.

So I laugh. Laugh at the immaturity of it all. Friends, politics, cliques, that’s for eighth grade, ninth grade — maybe. But for eleventh grade? Come on, grow up.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 746)


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Tagged: Teen Fiction