| The Rainbow Girl |

The Rainbow Girl: Chapter 2

“I know it’s not easy for you, sharing your room, helping out, but we’re all pitching in, and it’s a mitzvah, remember?”

There’s nothing like a best friend who drops everything and comes running to meet you when you need it most.

Rachelli shook the hood off her windbreaker, scattering raindrops. Etty made a face. “If I wanted a shower, I’d have stayed outside.” Then she linked arms with her friend and led her around the aisle to a corner of the store. “But seriously, tell me, what on earth is going on?!”

Rachelli grimaced. She made a show of unfolding the shopping list. “Splenda. Scented potpourri. Herbal teas. Napkin rings.” She looked up, Etty’s face was creased with curiosity. “Guess who’s coming for a visit?”

“Um, your sister Shani?” Etty looked bewildered. “I mean, who else in your family won’t eat sugar?”

“And has table manners like the Queen of England. Yeah, you’re right, it could’ve been Shani, but it’s not. It’s my grandparents.”

Etty’s eyes widened. “Wow. Okay. Your list makes sense. Is your mother super-stressed?”

“My mother?” Rachelli let her voice rise a little, and a man pushing an overflowing cart stopped and peered at them disapprovingly. She modulated her tone. “Forget my mother. I’m super-stressed! Tehillah needs to move out of her bedroom, it’s the only one with a bathroom, and guess where she moved?”

Guessing games were more fun than spelling things out, but this one didn’t take Etty long. “Nooooo, Rachelli, not to yours?”

“Yes to mine.” Rachelli breathed through a clenched jaw. “Can you imagine?”

Tehillah. Tall, thin, suntanned skin, long hair with overdone highlights. Tehillah, school uniform just this side of the line, shirt untucked, cherry-red lipstick. Tehillah, arguing with Mommy, contemptuously ignoring Rachelli and “the little kids.”

“I won’t even have a life anymore!” Rachelli choked out, swiping furiously at her eyes with the back of one hand. So embarrassing, they were in a supermarket, for heavens’ sake. She blinked hard. “Whatever. So I’ll have sleepovers at your place, okay? Like, every night. And I need to buy this stuff already and get home, or my mother will be frantic.”

The to-do list, apparently, had grown longer since she’d left the house.

“Is that you, Rachelli?” Mommy sounded frazzled. “What happened?”

Rachelli guiltily shifted the colorful Hearts and Crafts bag behind her. She never could resist that art superstore, and when they’d finished in the supermarket, she and Etty had raced across the parking lot “just for a minute.” Of course, she’d splurged on oil pastels and glitter-glue, not that she ever had time for really big projects.

Or any space, either. Last she’d seen, Tehillah’s stuff was scattered over her desk like she owned the place.

Mommy emerged from the kitchen, holding the bleach and a shmatteh. “Did you find everything?”

“Yeah, all of it, here it is.” Rachelli stashed her new art supplies at the back of the coat closet. “That scented stuff smells awful. I can’t understand why Bubby likes it.”

“Ra-chelli.” Mommy was tired; her shoulders drooped and there were dark shadows under her eyes. “I know it’s not easy for you, sharing your room, helping out, but we’re all pitching in, and it’s a mitzvah, remember?”

“Mitzvah, right,” Rachelli wanted to ask what mitzvah it was when Bubby wouldn’t be satisfied anyway, although that wasn’t her mother’s fault. But she couldn’t resist wondering aloud where, exactly, was everyone else who was supposed to be pitching in.

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 766)

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