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Upper Class: Chapter 6

I lean my head against the cold metal of the banister. I’m mad. At pretty much everyone in this family


“Levi, stop. Stop! Levi, stoooooooop!”

Why on earth did I think it would be a good idea to take my hyperactive nephew to the park alone? I need like five buffers with me, to surround the little monkey and make sure he doesn’t dive into oncoming traffic.

I am so stressed out, I can’t even breathe.

All I wanted to do today was go over my packing list, make sure everything is clearly labeled, get a haircut, and take a long hot shower before slipping into bed for a long, restful sleep.

Instead, I’m chasing after a three-year-old with enough energy to power the entire G.O., while my too-long ponytail flaps behind me and my shirt is sweat-plastered to my skin. Lovely.

The only thing that could make this worse is if I would bump into Debbi and Zeesy. Fat chance of that happening; last I heard the two of them were “just grabbing lunch at Bagelot and then getting massages at Lani’s.”

Oh. Okay. Me, too.

Levi practically leaps into the park entrance, trips over a rock, and goes flying. Oh, Hashem. Why? Why am I here?

I close my eyes, gathering my strength. It smells like rain and mud and… blood.

My eyes fly open. Levi’s face is smeared red, his nose dripping copiously. Oh, boy. I do not like blood. At all. Not one little bit.

The world starts to spin, green grass and blue sky and muddy grounds swirling together like a child’s finger painting.

Naomi, I tell myself. If there is one thing you are going to do today, it is going to be NOT THROWING UP.

Levi is shrieking, my stomach is churning, and I’m tempted to just turn around and walk away in search of fresh air. But I don’t because, hi, I’m normal. Instead I grab the family cell out of my fanny pack and press hard on the speed dial.

“I need help,” I croak out when someone finally answers. “Help.”

I’ve never been happier to see Sima in my entire life. Although if she doesn’t walk faster, I’m going to have to poke her.

“Sima,” I whisper-shout. “Stop strolling and help me!”

She looks annoyed but pushes her baby carriage a bit faster.

I grab it from her, and she pulls out water and wipes and tissues and Band-Aids while I collapse onto a nearby bench. My eyes stay closed while she cleans Levi up, talking softly. I crack open an eyelid. He’s blood-free; she even brought him a clean shirt to wear.

“Sima, you’re amazing. Whose shirt is that?”

“Gavi Weinbaum’s, my little neighbor,” she says, still talking soothingly.

The three of us settle at a picnic table, Levi happily munching on the chips Sima gave him.

I look at him in disbelief. “Sima, you’re a miracle worker.”

My sister flicks her blonde wig over one shoulder and tilts her nose up snootily. “Oh, I know.”

We laugh, but I’m actually in awe of her. I was ready to commit child neglect and she dove right into the situation.

“Blood doesn’t bother you?” I ask, leaning over the carriage. Penina is cooing up at me, looking heaven in a tiny gingham romper and floppy sunhat.

“Wait,” Sima says. She pulls something out of her purse and bends over the carriage. When she sits again, Penina is wearing tiny heart-shaped baby sunglasses.

We crack up. “Blood totally bothers me,” she says once we’ve calmed down. “But I didn’t look at the blood. I just looked at Levi.”

Wow. I glance at Sima from the corner of my eye. When did she get to be so… grown up?

I mean, I know she’s a mother and all that, but sometimes she just seems like Sima, my super bossy sister. She would make an amazing nurse or social worker or something like that.

I almost tell her that but then Levi jumps off the bench, hollering about the swings, and Sima is looking very settled, face turned toward the sun, one hand lazily rocking Penina back and forth.

Sighing, I run after him.

Every bone in my body hurts. Like legit aches. I feel around a hundred years old and just as grumpy. Levi is fed, bathed, and in pajamas by five, mainly because I need him to go to sleep before I break down in tears. I plop him on the living room floor with Magna-Tiles and go sit on the stairs.

I lean my head against the cold metal of the banister. I’m mad. At pretty much everyone in this family. Well, except Sima. I couldn’t be happier to be leaving everything behind and going to camp tomorrow. The sooner I can get away from everyone, the better.

My eyes glaze over. I wonder what Zeesy and Debbi are doing right now. Probably ordering in sushi or something and chatting with Mrs. Simons. Not watching their cuckoo nephew, that’s for sure. I immediately feel bad; he’s so sweet with his pink cheeks and wet hair. Guilt propels me to go crouch next to him and exclaim in admiration over his tower. He launches into a long lisping explanation of what he’s building and why. I smile and nod. It’s so hot, and I’m so tired, and my eyelids flutter….


Searing pain breaks across my forehead in waves.

“Ouch!” I shriek.

“You was sleeping! You not listening!” Levi lifts another Magna-Tile, aiming to throw.

I duck; it clatters to the floor.

“What is WRONG with you?!” I scream. Am I bleeding? I’m for sure bleeding.

I run to look in the hallway mirror. I’m not bleeding, but I have a purple bruise right in the middle of my forehead. “He dented my head,” I announce to nobody.

The front door opens.

“Naomi? How are you, sweetie?

I turn to look at Ma, trying not to choke on my sobs. “Not okay, Ma. Not okay. That crazy kid broke my head.”


I whirl around: Yocheved is standing behind Ma, eyes humongous in her white face.

to be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 953)

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