The sight of Mrs. Brandweis standing in front of the class caused Sheva almost physical pain. 

“We’re getting there, girls,” Mrs. Brandweis was saying, smiling widely. “I’m impressed by the progress every single committee is making. Shabbaton this year is going to be unforgettable!” 

Sari whooped and a few girls applauded. 

“I’m giving you this period to keep working on your Shabbaton assignments. If you need more space you can go into the gym, but I’m counting on you not to disturb any classes.” She smiled indulgently and waved them on. 

The room filled with noise as the girls got up to organize themselves. Sheva tensed. 

“Coming?” said Leah to Fraida. 

Fraida shook her head, gathering her papers and gesturing toward Sima. “Sorry,” she said apologetically. “Not this time. But the welcome kits are almost done, no?” 

“No,” grumbled Leah. “And it looks like choir is practicing now, which means we don’t have Tziri or Faigy either.” 

“Maybe we can borrow some girls from another committee,” Adina suggested. “What about decorations? Their job is mostly at the Shabbaton itself. Maybe some of them can help.” 

“Half of them are in choir too,” Leah complained. It was unlike her to be in such a bad mood. “Fine, I’ll go ask them.” 

Sheva sat, still and silent, watching this play out as if on a screen. 

Adina jumped up. “I’ll come with you,” she said. 

They crossed the room together. Sheva saw them move from group to group, laughing and joking. They borrowed Chani from decorations, Dini from tech, and Riva and Rochel Devorah from entertainment. 

Then the six of them walked out the classroom door toward the room where the welcome kits were being assembled. 

As they reached the door Leah glanced back. Her eyes caught Sheva’s for a fraction of a second. Sheva’s heart skipped a beat. But then the door swung closed and she was alone, again. 

When last period finally ended, Sheva fled. As she slipped out the wide entrance doors, she breathed deeply, like a diver coming up for air. 

Quickly, she walked down the block. How could the sky be so bright? Storybook clouds floated lazily, looking just too picturesque. How could everything look so… so normal, when nothing was normal anymore? How could the world look the same, when everything had changed? 

In three days she had lost every friend she’d ever had. Her best friend, her old friends, her classmates, even Shiffy — everyone had turned against her. A depression that Sheva had never known before overwhelmed her. It was hard to just put one foot in front of another. 

At the corner, Sheva paused. The Winters. She was supposed to go to the Winters today. 

Sheva wanted to go home, bury herself under the covers, and not come out for a very, very long time.