I spend my first day in Stonesworth moping around the house, grousing on the phone to Rus and Shiri. They assure me they have not yet forgotten me, and that they are completely lost without me. But then Shiri shrieks and Rus starts laughing because a bumblebee seems to have a grudge on Shiri and won’t leave her alone, and it hits me that they’re there, together, seeing the same bees, and I’m… not. Choking back tears, I hang up quickly and stomp downstairs. The house is quiet. Abba and Mommy are resting, Simchi is in Tzippy’s room playing with Lego® while Tzippy blow-dries her hair and I don’t know where Sari or Chunah are. There’s not much to do until the movers get here with our stuff, and I’m feeling restless. 

The doorbell rings, and I drag myself over to answer it. Who knows, maybe it’ll be more muffins. It’s not, but it’s Hadas Shimoni with a smaller version of herself peering out from behind her. “Hey, Rachel Ahuva,” she says cheerily, smiling from ear to ear. I grin back, I can’t help it. “This is Michal, I think she’s your sister Sara’s age?”

“Sari,” I correct her, waving at Michal. “Come on in, I’ll go find her.” I unearth Sari from the basement; she and Chunah were exploring. We head upstairs to the waiting Shimonis. I introduce Sari to Michal, they smile shyly at each other. Good. “Do you want to come over to my place if your parents are sleeping?” Hadas suggests. I nod. It’s time to venture out into Stonesworth. I run up to inform Tzippy and take a quick glance in the mirror. My coral sweatshirt and black skirt look fine, my Keds are on point, and my hair doesn’t look terrible. I flash myself a dimpled smile and run back down. “I love your hair,” Hadas says wistfully and I grin. I like this girl.

The Shimoni house is about the same size as ours, but they have a pool out back and a finished patio. “Yum,” I say, staring at the clear blue water. “Pool party tomorrow?” Hadas suggests and I nod. Sounds good to me. Sure beats swimming in the Brownsfeld JCC. I open my mouth to say this and then shut it. I don’t want to be disloyal to my hometown! My home. I feel my mouth fall into a pout; Sari elbows me.

Hadas pretends not to notice. We follow her into the kitchen where she serves us cookies and juice. Mrs. Shimoni comes down to meet us, balancing a chubby, black-eyed baby on her hip. I fall in love immediately. “Hi, you gorgeous thing,” I coo, taking her from Mrs. Shimoni’s hands. The baby gives me the squishiest smile and promptly tugs on a large handful of curls. “Ow,” I say, but I don’t give her back. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 716)