I sit up suddenly and jostle Shiri, asleep in the high-riser next to me. “Sorry,” I whisper, biting my lip. But she just slumbers on, dead to the world. I turn onto my back, stare up at the ceiling, and count the stars. 

Mommy had only drawn the solar system to help me study for a science test a few years back, but I had asked her to leave it there. I like to see how talented Mommy is, how she can make the planets seem as if they’re actually whirling and twirling, but never colliding. And it’s comforting to see them there, so colorful, so permanent.

It’s no secret I hate change. 

That’s why I don’t understand Shiri, don’t comprehend why she needs to rock the boat like this. Life is good. Life has always been good for our little group. Shiri, Rus, and Rachel Ahuva. The Three Little Bears, Mommy used to call us. And now Shiri was fighting with her mother and Rus was excluding Shiri and I was confused.

“Pssst.”

I look at the door; Tzippy’s head is poking through, freckled nose crinkled. I extricate myself from the blankets and tiptoe to the door, my socks silent on the mauve carpeting.

“What’s up?” I whisper, once we’re in the hallway. 

Tzippy yawns widely. “Taking a break from term papers to go bike riding at County Park. If you and Shiri are ready in an hour, you’re welcome to join. Oh, and Daddy got bagels and spreads, so hurry before Tzviki inhales them all.”

We giggle. Tzviki has an indomitable appetite, although you wouldn’t know it from his lean physique.

“Operation Wake Up Shiri is a go,” I say, saluting Tzippy smartly and tiptoeing back into the room. “Shiriiii,” I trill, jumping knees-first onto the bed. She groans but doesn’t move. “Shiraloo. Tzippy is taking us to County Park in an hour, so get your sleepy head up, up, UP.”

One eyelid flutters open and then the other. She grins sheepishly and sits up; the pile of hair on top of her head tilts.

“Mmmmm, boker tov,” she says, and I grin back. 

“So how does it sound?” I ask, bouncing up and down. She closes her eyes and shakes her head. “Tell me one more time.”

I sigh dramatically. “Tzippy offered to take us biking in County Park and my dad has bagels and spreads in the dining room.”

She slides out of bed and stretches. “Hard pass on the biking but I’ll do bagels.”

I feel my jaw drop. “But you love biking,” I protest, walking to my dresser to pick out clothes.

“LovED,” she corrects me. “I loved biking when I was like 12, true. But now I’d rather shop. Or go to the gym.”

I glance at Shiri’s perfect figure, long, tan arms folded defiantly, and I shrug. “Okay, your call. Guess I’ll ask Rus.”

Shiri makes a face. “Ask Rus whatever you want, I don’t really care.”

I turn and stare at her. “Um, okay. No problem. But who are you going to go shopping with?”

Shiri looks blank for a moment and then her mouth curls up in disgust. “You win. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 705)