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Upper Class: Chapter 14

I think she’s trying to be sympathetic, but she’s laughing so hard she can’t actually stand upright



chicken goes streaking by my leg; I shriek and grab on to Shan, who’s standing next to me, a big peaceful smile on her face.

She looks at my hand desperately clutching the front of her sweatshirt.

“Uh, Naomi?”

I remove my hand and place it gently by my side. “Yes, Shan?” I say demurely.

She squints at me. “Are you afraid of chickens?”

I draw myself up to my full height and sniff haughtily. “Am I afraid of chickens. Am I afraid of chickens? Shan Davis, I am terrified of chickens. Like, I can’t remember the last time I felt this unsafe.”

I think she’s trying to be sympathetic, but she’s laughing so hard she can’t actually stand upright.

Another chicken goes flying by me in a mess of wings and feet and wiggly red things and I run so fast, I am a blur.

Shan finds me behind a tree. Her green eyes are glinting with suppressed laughter.

I’m glad she thinks me almost dying via chickens is so funny.

“Naomi. We need to discuss this chicken fear. Did you experience chicken-related childhood trauma?”

I roll my eyes and look around quickly to make sure none of the chickens have followed me.

“Haha, very funny. Actually yes. How does that make you feel? Do you feel bad that you’re mocking me now?”

She bites her lip, trying to calm down. “Omigosh, really? I do feel so bad.”

I look at her sideways. “Yup. Once during kapparos, my father was swinging the chicken around and its feet got stuck in my hair.”

She looks horrified and then her eyes narrow. “You’re making that up.”

I crack up. “Totally. We do kapparos with money. But why would they think putting chickens on the baseball field is a good activity for the freshies? And why would they put the TCs in charge?”

Shan disappears for a minute and then reappears holding a chicken. “You ask too many questions, Taub.”

I scream and run for my life.

I skid to a halt at the entrance to the bunkhouse, panting and laughing hysterically, Shan close behind, sans chicken.

Zeesy and Debbi are inside, giving each other makeovers. They look up in the cool gloom of the bunkhouse, slightly shocked at our sweaty, chickeny appearances.

They look at each other meaningfully, then back at me.

“Where are you coming from?” Debbi ask slowly.

I hiccup and plop on my bed. “The chicken game for the freshies.”

Zeesy brushes too much bronzer onto her cheekbones, examines herself in the mirror, and then looks up at me.

“People went to that?”

I roll my eyes at Shan, who’s standing pretty awkwardly by her bed, fingering a towel.

“Yeah, Zeesy, people went to that.”


And suddenly, right now I prefer the company of bawking chickens to Debbi and Zeesy’s slow drawls.

“Kay, I’m going back. Shan? Wanna join me?”

“I thought you hate chickens,” Debbi calls after me.

“I love them,” I snap back.

Shan and I head down to the canteen for chocolate ice cream cones and eat them in silence.

“They hate me,” Shan says suddenly.

I don’t even ask her who she’s talking about.

“Oh no,” I say. “They actually hate me. But they’ll get over it, honestly. I’m not worried.”

Shan looks miserable. She runs a hand over her dark-blonde ponytail over and over.

I sigh. “Uch, Shan, don’t let my second-grade level drama get you down. They’re actually the best, they just consider themselves very sophisticated.”

She looks away, obviously uncomfortable with what I said. It’s not like I’m trying to speak lashon hara, I’m just actually frustrated right now.

“Whatever. Anyway, Shan, tell me more about your mom being your principal.” We’ve spoken about it a bunch of times, but I want to hear more. “I’m low key panicking at the idea that my mother is going to be my teacher,” I say hoarsely. “Any chizuk would be appreciated.”

She gives a half-smile and licks some ice cream off of her thumb.

Chizuk? Hmm. How about some survival tips? Although your mom looks a lot more chilled than mine.”

Now it’s my turn to look away uncomfortably.

“Whatever. Either way, Naomi, the truth is it’s going to be hard. My survival mechanism is to be invisible. I don’t speak, I don’t interact, and I definitely, one-hundred percent, do not respond when people try to speak about my mother.”

I nod, because what she’s saying makes sense.

But I also think that what she’s describing sounds extremely boring.

And very, very lonely.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 961)

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