Imake Shiri and Rus promise they won’t tell anyone. My family has decided to keep our big news a secret for a little while longer. We just want to enjoy our last few months in Brownsfeld without anyone treating us differently. That’s why I receive my 11th grade job with great gusto, grinning at the applause from my classmates. Class president. I feel nauseous as my friends cheer and clap and high-five me. I look around, find Shiri and Rus. They both look sick.

“Rachel Ahuva! Abolish uniforms as your first formal presidential act!” Mikki screeches and everyone laughs. I smile weakly and give a little salute.

Just then, Rabbi Jacobs comes in; we all scatter to our seats. I stare at the whiteboard unseeingly, the black writing on the white meshing into one giant blur. Rabbi Jacobs starts explaining the pasuk; I try to tune in, to focus, but I feel the tears coming on again. I push my chair back with a screech. Rabbi Jacobs stops mid word, everyone turns around.

“I… excuse me,” I mutter thickly, and run out of the room.

I can’t stay there, I can’t just sit and pretend everything is okay when nothing is okay, when nothing will ever be okay again. I stumble out of the building and head to the back, to the kindergarten playground. It’s empty now; kindergarten ended hours ago, and the tunnel and slide structure stand there, alone and inviting. I climb up the smooth metal ladder, surface warm from the sun, and tuck myself into one of the giant red tunnels. And then I let go. I sob and sob, my tears falling flat on the perforated metal beneath me, dripping down, watering the woodchip-covered ground below. Yet another piece of me that is now a part of Brownsfeld. I try to stop, but it feels too good. Like a child, I just want to cry until someone comes over and reassures me, promises me that I can stay in my home. I don’t want anything to change! New school, new classmates, new friends… I need things to stay the same. I’ve been with the same 12 girls since kindergarten. I’ve had the same teachers since middle school. This tunnel — I bang it hard with my hand — this tunnel held a little Rachel Ahuva, three years old and missing her mommy, for entire recesses all through nursery.

And yet here I am, expected to walk away from it all, expected to leave with grace and poise and barely a “Rachel Ahuva was here” scrawl.

A terrifying thought suddenly overwhelms me. What if everyone forgets about me? What if I leave and within weeks everyone’s like, “What was her name again? Rivka Aliza or something?”

I shudder. Nah. They’ll remember. Right?

I crawl out of the tunnel and there are Shiri and Rus, just standing there, arms around each other, tears falling fast and furiously.

“You guys,” I croak. They run to me, scaling the ladder and hopping onto the swinging bridge. We fall on each other, arms and ponytails and scratchy blue shirts in a giant tangled mess.

And that’s where we remain for the rest of the day, speaking aloud fears and furies and just remembering. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 711)