W

e drive in silence for almost an hour, each one of us lost in his or her thoughts. My mind is filled with images of Shiri and Rus, of the entire Bais Yaakov class — all 12 girls — and of my room. Gravel crunches below the wheels, and the small sound fills the quiet car. I sigh and stretch, accidently knocking Chunah in the nose. “Ouch,” he growls, knocking me back. I stare at him. He drops his eyes, embarrassed. “Sorry,” he mutters. Mommy wisely chooses to intervene. “Who’s ready for chocolate chip cookies?” she asks, passing back a large Tupperware. Sari takes the container; the sound of chewing soon echoes through the silence. This is getting depressing. “So,” I say, staring out the window. “How far is this house from the Lermans?”

Mommy turns around. “Oh, not far. Maybe a ten-minute drive.” I raise my eyebrows. “That’s pretty far,” I say. Mommy turns red. “Well, you see, kids…” I nudge Tzippy quickly; she pulls her earbuds out. “Mommy has more news,” I whisper. Tzippy rolls her eyes, Mommy is still fumbling for words. “Um, the thing is… the homes in Stonesworth are very… big. And expensive. Lani and Avi’s home is considered medium by Stonesworth standards.” I think of Lani’s large home and swallow. “So, we kind of had to buy a home on the very outskirts of Stonesworth. But it really is nice. Cozy. Cute. Great backyard….”

“It’s a shoebox, isn’t it?” I say. Honestly, I don’t really care. Tell me there were no homes left and we’re all moving into the local Walmart, I’d be fine. There is just one place that I want to live in, and that has disappeared in the rearview mirror around two hours ago. Sari requests more details, I tune the conversation out. Time for some music therapy. I slide my finger over my MP3, deliberating. Abie Rotenberg or do I want to go classical? Decisions, decisions. “Man from Vilna,” seems like the right amount of sadness and mussar. I press play and lose myself in the rich notes.

The next thing I know Abba is saying, “Six minutes out, people, rise and shine.”

I blink blearily and sit up; my neck is stiff, and my hair seems to have taken on new levels of puffiness.

“Even their sign is fancy,” I croak, pointing to the forest green wooden plaque pretentiously proclaiming, “WELCOME TO THE CITY OF STONESWORTH” in curvy, elegant gold lettering.

Mommy laughs at that, and I feel some of the panic I am holding inside lessen. It is a new city and a new house, but we are still the Bricks.

I eye Mommy, she’s biting her lip, and suddenly I think how she must be feeling. Besides for leaving her home and friends, she’s also under tremendous pressure to ensure that we are all happy. That’s a lot….

I resolve to be nicer and to clue Sari and Tzippy into my epiphany. I pull out a mirror and try to fix my hair, but it’s pretty hopeless so I just sit back and watch the houses go by.

I feel my jaw dropping lower and lower.

Tzippy puts on a British accent. “I’m sorry, I didn’t realize we would be living near the queen. How silly of me, I’ve forgotten my pearls back in Brownsfeld.”

I crack up, but she’s right. These aren’t houses, they’re palaces. I gasp as we pass one home with a huge iron-wrought fence in front, and another with ponds in its landscaping.

“Where are we?” Chunah mutters. Mommy chuckles dryly. “Welcome to Stonesworth, kiddos.” (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 714)