Debbi looks like she hasn’t slept at all. Her face is white and set, and dark-purple shadows bruise under her eyes
his is a terrible idea. This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea.
“Let the record show,” I say, stealing a line from Libby, “that I do not support this idea. At all. I think it’s best to let sleeping dogs lie. Forever. Ma will forget about it, no one was hurt, it was a mistake. Why on earth would you want to mix that into our relationship? Imagine Ma suspends you. You’ll never want to come over again.”
Truthfully, I’m pretty sure she wouldn’t want to be friends ever again, my house or hers, but that sentiment is just for my deep-down insecurities; no need to share that with the audience.
I can almost see Debbi shrug. “I don’t care. I just feel like this is something I need to do, okay? I was talking to Zeesy and she said she agrees with me.”
Oh, well that just puts me in a bad (okay, let’s face it, worse) mood.
“Well, if Zeesy says so, Zeesy must be right,” I say snarkily. “Forget that she’s my mother and I’ve known her since the day I was born.”
“Are you done?”
I blush. “Yeah, sorry.”
“So, will you come with me?”
My brain is having trouble computing. “I’m sorry, come with you where?”
Debbi sighs loudly. “To your mother. To confess.”
I decide to go walking at the local high school track. Now, I’m not one for getting sweaty or for wasting valuable shopping or reading time, but I need to clear my head. I keep picturing Yocheved’s tear-filled eyes when I said I couldn’t babysit, Debbi’s determined ones, announcing she’s confessing to Ma, and Shan’s wide-eyed distracted gaze. What was wrong with everyone, honestly? Was it like a conspiracy to all implode my life at once?
I swing my arms lightly, breathing out. Libby would tell me not to be self-centered, that people have other things to do with their days then choose to make mine miserable, but hey, I’m almost 17. Being self-involved is part of the job description.
I trot briskly around the track one or two more times before calling it a night. And as I head back home, sweating and heart racing, I think how all I really want to do right now is write in that little notebook Ma gave me.
After a shower and some warm granola cookies — thanks, Libs — I settle down with my notebook. No poetry tonight. No, tonight I write quickly, furiously.
Being in 11th grade is HARD ENOUGH.
Caring for myself and my grades and my social life is HARD ENOUGH.
Being someone who cares about other people and their feelings is TOO HARD.
I reread it. It has rhythms, actually.
Maybe it is a poem, after all.
Debbi looks like she hasn’t slept at all. Her face is white and set, and dark-purple shadows bruise under her eyes. I take a deep breath. If she wants to be a complete idiot, I can’t stop her, but I can support her. Physically, at least. Like I can go with her, hold her hand, and stay quiet.
We daven in silence, walk back to homeroom in silence. Morning recess, she turns to me. “’Kay I need to do it now before I lose my nerve.”
I nod. “’Kay, let’s go.”
She looks surprised. “You’re coming with me?”
I nod. “Of course. Where you go, I go, and all that.”
She looks so grateful, I feel shy. “Yalla, let’s go.
Ma isn’t in the main office; she must be in the teacher’s room. I ask the secretary, Pessie, to call her. She smiles, and goes to get her.
Ma comes out, grinning.
“Girls! How are you? Class isn’t until later, did you need something else?”
I lean forward. “Can we go somewhere private?”
Ma looks surprised. “Of course.” She motions us into the empty drama room.
She perches on the stage; Debbi and I sit on a chariot prop from last year. I run my finger over the Styrofoam moldings and look at Debbi.
She takes a deep breath. “Morah Taub… the thing is. You see, what happened is that—”
She falters, takes a deep breath.
And I don’t know why or how, but suddenly I’m standing up and my voice is saying, loud and confidently, “Ma, it was my phone that rang that day during class. I’m really sorry, I was too embarrassed to tell you.”
I sit back down, drained, noticing through a sort of faraway haze that it’s hard to say who looks more shocked, Ma or Debbi.
To be continued…
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