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Upper Class: Chapter 12

I look up to find Ma and my older sisters sharing meaningful glances. The “Naomi is being overly sensitive and irrational” look



tuck the sheet under my bed and smooth the comforter with my hands until it’s perfectly straight. I straighten and watch Faiga scrubbing the toothpaste off the mirror and Zeesy sweeping the floor furiously, like somehow faster strokes will result in a cleaner floor. Debbi is straightening her hair, of all things, and Yaeli and Shan, our resident artists, are hanging up a gorgeous banner with the words “Welcome to Our Bunk House” scrawled across.

Tell me it’s Visiting Day without telling me it’s Visiting Day.

I turn around just in time to find Debbi casually perching on the edge of my bed while she ties her shoes.

I remind myself to breathe, but it’s hard. “Debbi,” I say through gritted teeth, “I just spent TWO YEARS straightening that comforter.”

Debbi smirks. “Oh, this comforter?” She leans back, like she’s about to lie down. I shriek and she cracks up.

Grabbing her hands, I pull her to a standing position. Still laughing, she remakes my bed. “Sorry about that, Sir, Captain Sir.”

I raise my eyebrows at her and smooth down my ribbed mauve skirt. “Well, if you want to explain to Morah Taub why my bed is unmade….”

She gasps dramatically. “Heaven forfend!”

We crack up because Rabbi Cooper always says that in Chumash class, and no one really knows what it means.

I step out of the bunkhouse and stand still in the morning air. I straighten my shoulders and rotate a crick out of my neck, eyes closed. The sun is shining, yesterday’s thunderstorm a distant memory. I could stand here forever except that Visiting Day is about to start, and I want to daven and eat breakfast before the craziness begins.

Yaeli comes outside and stands next to me. “I wish people were visiting me,” she says wistfully.

I poke her. “Excuse me, there has to be at least one perk of living in boring old Toms River instead of Ramat Beit Shemesh. But listen, you can have my family. They’re majorly embarrassing anyway.”

She laughs and cheers up a bit.


“Aaaaand here we have the lake. Ta-da!” I make a grand gesture with my arms.

Sima looks confused. “Wait, why is it in the same place as last year? Didn’t they want to move it?”

I roll my eyes. “Hahaha.”

Ma tries to hide her smile. “Naomi, it’s gorgeous. Should we take a boat out?”

Sima shudders. “Count me out. I’m still nauseous from the drive up.”

Libby pulls her baseball cap lower over her face. “I’ll join! Naomi? Miri? Paddle boat or row?”

Miri runs a hand over her sheitel. “Eh, it’s frizzy already. May as well steer into the skid.”

We end up rowing while Sima heads to the bunk house to take care of baby Penina. We wave at the other families and slap our oars in and out of the water lazily. Loud music is pumping through the camp’s speaker system, and everyone is having an amazing time.

I fill them in on some of the camp goings-on.

“Oh, Ma, do you know a Mrs. Davis from the high school in Detroit? Her daughter, Shan, and I became friends.”

Ma’s face brightens. “Of course, Etty Davis. That’s so nice, Naomi. And is she friends with Debbi and Zeesy as well?”

Uch, way to poke a hole in my balloon.

“No,” I say sullenly.


I look up to find Ma and my older sisters sharing meaningful glances. The “Naomi is being overly sensitive and irrational” look that I know so well. And then they wonder why I’m not homesick.

“Let’s head back to the docks,” I say. Miri nods and soon we’re back on dry land, heading down to the basketball courts for a barbecue lunch.

Ma meets one of the thousands of people she knows and begins schmoozing; I hang back to walk with my sisters.

“Thanks for schlepping up here,” I say brightly.

They hug me from either side. “Of course, Princess.”

Uch, do not use my childhood nickname out loud and in public, please. But I just smile and ask about their summers.

I listen to Libby go on and on about summer semester and the Lakewood heat before I manage to get a word in edgewise.

“And how’s the rest of the fam?” I say casually.

But not casually enough. “Yocheved was going to come today,” Miri says bluntly, her green eyes shining sympathetically. “Really, she was. But then her sitter for Levi backed out and—”

“And what?” I demand.

Libby shrugs. “And she didn’t think you would want her to bring him along.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 959)

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