What should she rush for, anyway? So that Bubby should tell her to help out more? To have Tehillah take up too much space in her bedroom?
“Nothing. Mrs. Steinfeld didn’t want anything, okay?” She was upset and embarrassed, and Etty’s questions weren’t helping. “I don’t want to talk about it.”
Etty looked offended. “Well, excuse me for caring.” She turned around and stalked off. Rachelli’s heart sank. She couldn’t share anything with her best friend just now, but messing up their friendship was the last thing she needed.
Rachelli leaned against the stairwell, suddenly exhausted. She was so tired of the secrets, tired of hiding and running away. Sick and tired of having her life dictated, of Bubby’s critical remarks, of her parents’ decisions and Tehillah flaunting her attitude in Rachelli’s face every morning. And now Mrs. Steinfeld, asking her if she was okay. Of all things!
A hot flush colored her face at the memory. She’d mumbled something, and her kind teacher had left it alone, with an offer to come and talk if she ever wanted. But how could she talk? Everything was so confusing and of course, the situation with Mrs. Hertz was still a complete secret.
What should she have told Etty?
I’m so sorry I’m avoiding you, I just have a horrible secret on my mind all the time, and I can’t tell you?
How about, I left school during recess to go and cry in an art store, and Mrs. Steinfeld wants to know if I want to talk to her about what’s bothering me?
Or, Life is awesome, except that my older sister is acting up, and I’m getting sent out of town because of that?
She gave half a laugh that caught in her throat and nearly started crying again.
“Get a life, Rachelli,” she told herself firmly.
The bell rang.
“Get to class, Rachelli.”
This talking to herself sounded crazy, but it worked. Maybe she was going crazy from all the stress or maybe just from not being able to talk to anyone.
She sat down, trying to ignore Etty’s stony face. Her stomach rumbled, the obvious result of skipping breakfast and then lunch. Well, it was too bad. Mrs. Weisner, the math teacher, had eagle eyes for things like eating in class. Food – and Etty – would just have to wait.
If school wasn’t bad enough, now she had to go home.
Rachelli dragged her feet, letting the walk back home take twenty minutes instead of ten. What should she rush for, anyway? So that Bubby should tell her to help out more? To have Tehillah take up too much space in her bedroom?
She sighed. Once upon a time, she’d been able to talk to Mommy after school. Sit in the kitchen and chill with brownies and a drink, tell Mommy about her day and then head up to her quiet bedroom with her sketchbook and music. Why hadn’t she appreciated life when it was so simple, before Mommy was stressed out half the time and there was no more quiet and privacy?
Maybe dorming next year wasn’t such a bad idea, after all.
(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 772)
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