he crowd and noise in front of the school building clashed with the cacophony inside Adina’s head, leaving her totally disoriented.

“Hey, Adina, got a seat?”

Adina turned. “No, not yet.”

Gitty giggled. “What’s the rush, right? We’ll be on that bus for hours.” She jerked her head toward the row of buses waiting. Luggage was still piled in haphazard stacks all along the curb. “No reason to get on now. It’s going to take them a while still to load.”

Adina nodded. There was an awkward pause, then Gitty wandered away.

The milling crowd was getting on Adina’s nerves. What was she doing here, anyway? Adina Silvermintz, getting on the bus for Shabbaton! How ironic was that? When she couldn’t afford Shabbaton she’d wanted to come, but now that she was here, she wished she was anywhere else. And the noise was giving her a headache.

“Hey, Fraida, when are we leaving?”

“Yeah, let’s go already!”

You help load the luggage, if you’re in such a rush.”

“Personally I’m not in such a rush to start sitting in a hot sticky bus for six hours.”

“I waited the whole year for Shabbaton, I don’t want to wait anymore!”

With difficulty, Adina refrained from rolling her eyes. Maybe she should get on the bus after all. It would be quieter there for sure. Adina hefted her backpack and made her way through the crowd to the bus marked 11-A. It was empty, which was perfect. She settled into a window seat in the back row.

I waited the whole year for Shabbaton… Sheva had also been dreaming of Shabbaton all year. Was she dreading it now, like Adina was?

Was it possible that she was hoping, somehow, that Shabbaton could help fix things? A spark of optimism flickered inside Adina. Maybe Sheva also wanted to find an opportunity to talk! She looked out the window, scanning the crowd. Where was Sheva?

Raizy and Devorah burst onto the bus, laughing loudly. “Oh, good, it’s empty. Here!” Raizy draped a sweatshirt across a seat. “Put yours down too, that way no one will take these seats. Let’s go tell Shani…” Their voices faded as they clambered back off the bus.

Adina waited until the bus was silent again, then dropped her own sweatshirt on the seat next to her. Not that Sheva would sit with her, but… just… if… it was better this way.

“Please board the buses!”

Sima had a megaphone. Fraida stood near her, beaming like the mother of the bride. “Please board the buses! We are leaving in ten minutes!”

The crowd shifted. A couple of girls climbed onto the buses.

Adina settled back into her seat and closed her eyes. Anxiety threaded itself under her eyelids and didn’t allow her to relax. She concentrated, trying to identify the feeling.

What if Sheva wouldn’t forgive her?