| Teen Serial |

Upper Class: Chapter 38    

Growing up might not be as exciting as we thought, but whatever it takes to get me into a car, I’m there

The doorbell rings, loud and obnoxious. I run down the stairs, pull it open, yank Debbi in, and we jump up and down screaming until Ma comes out, a smile playing around her lips.

“So, you girls excited for your first driver’s ed class?”

We shriek in response. Ma laughs and follows us out the front door.

We jabber the entire way there. I don’t think I’ve ever been so excited in my entire life, including Libby’s l’chayim.

Sorry, Libby.

Half of Bais Yaakov’s 11th-grade class is there. We high five and hug and giggle and generally make nuisances of ourselves until Mr. O’Brien tells us all to “simmer down while I introduce you to driver’s education.”

Spoiler alert: Driver’s ed is seriously boring. Like, I can’t keep my eyes open, boring.

I look around the room. Debbi has her chin in her hand, eyes glazed over. Faigy’s mouth is hanging open while she traces circles on her desk, and Sari’s eyes are actually closed. I reach out and poke her; she gives a little startle then rolls her eyes at me.

Well, I guess growing up might not be as exciting as we thought, but whatever it takes to get me into a car, I’m there.

I sit up straight, roll my shoulders, rotate the crick out of my neck, and widen my eyes. I will stay awake, I will be educated about driving, and I will drive many, many places. Amen.

Debbi’s mother comes to pick us up, a huge smile on her face.

“Girls! How was it? As boring as I remember?”

We smile tiredly.

“Worse,” Debbi says. “Much, much worse.”

We get celebratory iced lattes, and then head to my house for some studying.

I’m sprawled on the floor, trying to memorize earth science, which honestly is more boring than driver’s ed, when Debbi clears her throat.

I look up at her through hooded eyes. “Yes, madam, what can I do for you?”

She looks at me. “Naomi. What’s going on with Shan? Is she, like, frum? And if she’s not, why do you hang out with her? It’s weird, no?”

Ohhh boy, I do not have enough sleep or caffeine in my body for this conversation.

But it’s also not fair to snap at Debbi just for asking questions. She’s entitled to answers; she’s my best friend. I’d probably be asking the same exact things if the situation was flipped.

“Okay. First of all, she’s totally frum. She’s just… going through a hard time. And I’ve discussed it with my mother and my sisters, and right now, I feel like I’m able to be her friend. And if that ever changes, then my decision will probably be different.”

Debbi looks at me, skepticism scribbled all over her face. “But don’t you care about what other people think?”

I laugh out loud at that one. “Have you met me?”

She grins at that. “Well, then, mah nishtanah?

I’m suddenly exhausted. I stand up and plop on the bed next to Debbi.

“Why? Are people talking about me?” I shudder.

She scrunches her nose. “Kind of… People have seen you two together and it just makes them wonder.”

I fall back on the pillows. “Uch. I quit. I officially quit teenagerhood. It’s too hard. It’s too much. I’m done.”

Debbi smacks me with my own Squishmallow. “You one thousand percent cannot quit before you get your license. I forbid it.”

I raise a feeble hand in a weak attempt to ward off any more Squishmallow attacks. “You are saying words of wisdom, Debra. Words of wisdom.”

And that’s when the phone pings.

“That’s Shan, isn’t it?” Debbi sighs.

I nod. “But right now, I’m with you.” We spend the rest of the night studying, and I don’t read a single text from Shan until Debbi goes home.

How was driver’s ed?

Are you around?

I really need someone to talk to.



Kay, fine, I’ll just go to the park and talk to whoever I find there.

I look at the time stamp on that one. Please tell me she did not go to the park at 11:42 p.m.

I dial her so fast, I get a finger cramp. “Hello?”

She sounds half asleep. Well, it is 1:45 a.m.

“Shan? Did you go to the park? Sorry I couldn’t answer before.”

She laughs, sounding much more awake. “No, I did not go to the park at midnight with all the loonies out there. But I knew that would get you. Ha, you’re so predictable, Taub. And easy.”

She laughs again.

I am not amused. Not one tiny bit.

“I’m glad this is all a game for you, Shan, but I actually care about my friends, and the thought of you being outside now made me feel actual concern. If that makes me predictable, well, then, who really cares. And next time, instead of sending me messages to trick me into calling you, why don’t you just actually call me if you need something important? I do have a life, but I’m always here for you if you need me.” And then I hang up on her. Because, frankly, she deserves it.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Cozey., Issue 985)

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