| Teen Serial |

Upper Class: Chapter 28

I’ll give them this: my sisters make a great audience. They all gasp and sigh at all the right moments.


I’m not quiet, but some of my siblings are downright loud. Especially when they all gather to eat Melaveh Malkah together.

“Pass the popcorn, please,” I say to Sima.

She takes a handful of popcorn, tosses it into her mouth, and keeps right on chatting with Miri.


“Can you pass the popcorn?” I say politely to Yocheved.

She leans in closer to Libby and continues her whispered conversation. Am I saying things in my head accidentally?


Everyone freezes and turns to look at me, eyes shocked, mouths hanging open.

I hate that. I hate that I’m already unfairly labeled as high-strung and dramatic based on who I was as a kid, and then whenever I’m around my siblings, I feel myself acting just like that.

“Sorry, Nomes,” Libby says contritely. “Did you ask me to pass the popcorn?”

I glare at her because how dare she be nice? “No, Libby, I did not ask you, I asked the other people around you.”

Libby nods slowly like it makes perfect sense that I’m snapping at her and no one else, and passes me the popcorn.

Yuck. Understanding big sisters.
I don’t even want the popcorn anymore. No, wait; yes, I do.

I sigh deeply and pop some buttery kernels into my mouth.

Everyone resumes their schmoozing as if I hadn’t shouted like a lunatic and I’m left feeling stupid.

As per usual.

Sima leans in and nudges me with her shoulder. “So what’s bothering you?”

I sigh and shrug. She nudges me again.

I can’t help smiling. “Stop! It’s nothing… just… did you hear what happened in Ma’s class?”

Sima shudders. “Omigosh, yes, from Tamar.”

Her sister-in-law, Tamar, is in ninth grade and is a total cutie. I love that I finally have a “younger” friend in high school.

“Did they find out whose cell phone it was?”

I shake my head. “Nisht. Ma’s on the warpath, which is totally not the vibe for 11th grade, and I’m just mortified.”

Sima shakes her head, too. “That’s horrible. Like absolutely cringe. Girlies, did you hear about this?”

Yocheved turns away from Libby; Miri looks up from her phone. “What?!”

Feeling very important, I fill them in on the 11th grade Bais Yaakov drama.

I’ll give them this: my sisters make a great audience. They all gasp and sigh at all the right moments.

“That girl,” Miri says slowly, “that poor, poor girl. Ma is not going to stop till she finds her.”

Yocheved nods sadly. “’Tis true. Whoever she is, she’s going to really, really wish she had left her phone at home that day….”

I shiver. All I keep hearing is, “That poor girl is going to hate your guts, Naomi.”

Exactly what I need.

Debbi has been acting super strange lately. Like edgy and snappish and pretty much altogether miserable to be around. I contemplate this as I head down to the basement, which I usually avoid because it’s grandchildren territory, but we had a quiet Shabbos and I’m just kind of in the mood of squishy oversized couches and bubbling fish tanks.

I look around tentatively, but the room is neat, the puzzles all in a neat box next to the Magna-Tiles.

Nice. I plop down on the striped chaise and stretch out. A girl could get used to this.

And then I space.

For a good hour, I literally just let my eyes glaze over and my mind grow numb.

Is that totally weird? Probably. But I did it anyway. And oddly enough, after an hour, I feel rejuvenated.

“Libby’s date went weeeelll,” I say to Debbi in a singsong. Libby’s shidduchim are obviously no one’s business, except, you know, me and my bestie.

I wait for Debbi’s little shriek, her, “Omigosh, I’m psssyyyyched,” but instead she lets out this weird, “Mmmm?” that makes her sound like a mother speaking to an exhausting toddler.

“I’m sorry, am I boring you?” I finally snap.

She looks away and then turns back to me; I notice her eyes are dull, blonde locks lacking their usual bounce and shine.

“No, totally not, why do you ask?”

I lean past her for the ketchup and squeeze the bottle unnecessarily hard so ketchup swirls into a much higher pile than necessary.

I drag a fry through without answering her.

The silence drags on, punctuated by the sounds of chewing, swallowing, and the occasional click of my hall clock that only makes noises occasionally.

Nothing’s quite as satisfying as homemade fries. And Debbi and I have it down to a science.

But her silence is kind of killing the chill.

Finally, when I’ve distributed the last two fries, Debbi looks up at me and bites her lip.

“Naomi… it was my cell phone.”

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 975)

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