The first week in Stonesworth follows a strict routine. I wake up, daven, get dressed, and help Mommy unpack two or three boxes before heading over to Hadas’s. I’m surprised by how much I like her. “It’s funny,” I muse to Mommy as we fold towels together, “but I haven’t made a new friend since Chavi joined our class in third grade. It’s kind of…”

“Refreshing?” Mommy asks, a twinkle in her eye. I nod. “Yes. Very. Of course, though, it’s weird that she doesn’t know anything about me. Like I can’t just say ‘Berry’s’ or ‘the treehouse,’ and I haven’t even told her about Simchi yet.”

Mommy looks thoughtful. “Honestly, RaRa, she probably knows. After all, I told Chagit Shimoni that the whole reason we were moving here was for SHIPS.”

Huh. I hadn’t realized that. “Okay, then, maybe I’ll just say something casual,” I say, shrugging. Mommy nods and we continue folding in companionable silence.

 

*****

 

Sari and I head over to the Shimonis after lunch. Mrs. Shimoni greets us at the door with a smile and a “they’re in the pool.”

We thank her and head around back. Hadas is lounging on a pool chaise, reading one of those weekly magazines Mommy loves, and Michal is in the shallow, spinning Avigayil around in a tube while their babysitter watches from the pool steps. I wave at everyone and perch on Hadas’s chair. “How’s it going?” I ask lazily, tilting my face up to the sun. She smiles and puts down her magazine. “Great! I’m so happy you’re here, I was just getting bored. I actually just invited my cousin over, she’ll be in our class in Bais Yaakov and I think you’ll really like her. She’s super funny.”

I scrunch up my face. More new people? Not sure I’m ready for that.

“Sure, I like funny,” I say in what I hope is an unconcerned, cool-as-a-cucumber voice.

We sit and schmooze, drinking lemonade and laughing over Avigayil’s antics, until a dark, curly haired girl comes bounding around the house.

“Hey, Ronit,” Sari calls from the pool. The girl waves and falls into the chair next to me. She doesn’t look much like Hadas, but she’s cute, and besides, who cares?

“Sooo, this is the famous Rachel Ahuva,” the girl drawls, giving me a dazzling smile. I like her immediately.

“Autographs later,” I throw back and she laughs.

 Hadas is grinning. “I knew you two would like each other,” she says happily. I high-five her and turn back to Ronit, who is staring at me.

“What?” I ask self-consciously.

 “Nothing,” she says, raising her eyebrows at Hadas. “You’re just, like, really cute.”

“Oh.” I blush and clear my throat awkwardly. “So, do you live near here?”

Ronit gets the hint and drops it. “Yeah, just outside the Outcrop.” She giggles. “Far enough into Stonesworth to actually have neighbors.”

Hadas rolls her eyes. “Yeah, yeah. So, swimming, anyone?” And the rest of the afternoon flies by in a haze of splashing, suntanning, and schmoozing. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 717)