| Teen Serial |

Upper Class: Chapter 41

“It’s hard for you to have Ma as a teacher, but did you ever look around? Everyone else really, really likes her classes”


MY bed creaks as someone sits down. I squint in the darkness. Too. Early.

Much too early.

“Libby?” I croak.

She puts her hand on my head. “Hush, young one, this is a dream.”

I sit up so suddenly we almost smack heads. “What? Stop being a weirdo. Does Yoni know that you scare sleeping people?”

She makes a face that I can’t fully see.

I squint at the clock: 6:05.

Falling back against my pillows, I groan. “Libby! It’s the crack of dawn, what is going on?”

She squishes over next to me. “I’m heading off to Brooklyn to meet Yoni’s sisters for breakfast and shopping, but I just wanted to tell you first to give Ma a chance today. I know it’s hard for you to understand why she’s doing things this way, insisting you only speak about what happened in a school setting, but Nomes, Ma knows what she’s doing, okay? It’s hard for you to have Ma as a teacher, but did you ever look around? Everyone else really, really likes her classes. She’s probably one of the most liked teachers of 11th grade. And I know you’ve probably blocked this from your psyche, but I bet you have classmates and friends who open up to her and share personal things.”

I think about my friends sharing personal things with Ma and shudder. Yeeeech.

Libby bops me on the nose. “Just. Give. Her. A. Chance.”

I bop her right back. “Let. Me. Go. Back. To. Sleep.”

She gives me a hug and hops away, entirely too chipper for 6:15.

Peace at last. I roll over and shut my eyes but who am I kidding, there’s no way I’ll ever fall back asleep.


There’s a clock ticking really loudly somewhere. Like really loudly. What is wrong with that clock?

I look around the room. Oh. It’s my watch. I love my watch.

There are no windows in Ma’s office, something I don’t think I’d ever realized before. Maybe because I’ve never wanted to escape before?

I clear my throat, scratch my nose. And finally, when the silence has turned into a giant thing that takes over the room, I break it.

“Okay!” I burst out. “Fine. Ma, I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t leave the pizza store as soon as I saw where we were. I’m sorry I didn’t hightail it out of there. I’m sorry I keep messing up and that I don’t have normal friends and that, overall, I’m just a huge gigantic disappointment of a daughter.”

And that’s when Ma speaks. “A disappointment? Naomi, what on earth are you talking about? You think I’m disappointed in you as a daughter?” Ma shakes her head. “But that’s a conversation for another time. Right now, let’s discuss yesterday evening, shall we? I stood in front of the classroom, if you recall, and requested from the hanhalah that students avoid Stuffed Crusts, yes? And around four hours later, I find you right there. With Shan. Do you want to explain to me how that happened?”

Oh, I like really, really don’t, but I have a feeling I won’t be leaving this office until I talk. Is this legal? I feel like it’s not legal. I think about voicing a complaint but think better of it.

“Uh, I went home after a very, very long day,” I say. My voice is louder and more obnoxious than it needs to be, but there is nothing about this situation that I like. “I just wanted some fuzzy socks and hot cocoa. And then Shan called that she needed me. So I went to be a good friend and I didn’t know she’d be at Stuffed Crusts and I was shocked but we were already there and it was raining and cold and we were hungry…”

I stop and take a deep breath. “And then Shan starts crying how she wants to go home, and you know what? I just wanted her to. I wanted her to go home and stop making my life complicated, which is a disgusting thing for a friend to say. And I said it anyway.”

That’s it. I’m done. I stare at the floor defiantly and then Ma clears her throat.

I look up. Ma’s eyes are so soft and kind, like when I have the flu and she comes in to rub my back.

“That must have been so hard for you, Naomi. I’m really sorry you went through that.”

And so, yeah, of course, that’s when I start crying. Wouldn’t be a day in 11th grade if I didn’t, am I right?

We skip the rest of the day and go for fro-yo, which has happened exactly never times before.

I feel shy and I think Ma feels the same way; her cheeks are pink and she doesn’t say anything until we’re sitting in a booth.

“Peanut butter, chocolate lentils, and caramel sauce,” she says, holding her cup out to me. “Try it.”

I make a face but take a spoonful. “Oh, that’s really good!”

Ma wrinkles her nose. “You sound surprised.”

I hold out my cup. “Raspberry sauce, granola crunch, and white chocolate.”

Ma laughs and take a big spoonful. “Oh, you don’t have to convince me. That sounds amazing.”

And the next hour passes in a blur of hesitant laughs, shared yogurts, and maybe, just maybe, the promise of something new blooming.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Cozey, Issue 988)

Oops! We could not locate your form.