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House of Mirrors: Chapter 8

Rachael Lavon

“You never struggled, Gavi. Perfect little Gavi with his perfect grades, and perfect jump shot, and perfect leadership skills”

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

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T he moon dangled low and bright against the night sky, and Laylee stifled a yawn as she walked the guests out. After such an awkward start, the meal had gone relatively smoothly.

“I don’t know if it happened on the plane, or back in Maalot Dafna. But it’s gone,” Baila said to Sarah. “And the siddur had everything in it, all my notes, when to stand and sit, what to say…” Sarah shook her head in sympathy. “I could help you if you want. We can go through a new siddur together.” Laylee could sense hesitation in Sarah’s voice, but Baila was oblivious to it.

“Well, look at that,” Laylee said with a smirk once they were back inside. “Rebbetzin Sarah.” Sarah looked at her. “Rebbetzin? No. Not a rebbetzin. Just a person who can appreciate sincerity.” She took the stairs two at a time, leaving a bewildered Laylee standing at the bottom.

Laylee woke up with a headache every Sunday morning like clockwork. After trying to eliminate triggers from her diet, she’d finally conceded that all the food elimination in the world wouldn’t change the fact that Sunday was Cassandra’s day off.

“I have a shul meeting at ten so don’t expect me home,” Gavi said, slipping into his shoes. “So you’re abandoning me,” Laylee said, rubbing her temples.

Gavi went very still, listening, and then opened the door a crack. “She’s still on it, Lay… Louder than last night.”

Laylee heard Cookie’s voice float down the hall. “Ballet. Ballet. Ballet. Ballet.” It had started as a singsong plea the night before and transformed into a full-blown war cry.

“I’m not changing my mind, Gavi. She’s not taking ballet. Children can be cruel creatures...”

“So we’re just going to hold her hostage? Not letting her experience life because someone might call her a name.” He blinked a few times, face stormy.

“That’s not fair, I’m not turning her into a hermit! She can take anything she wants! Painting, drama, choir, piano... electric guitar! But kids are cruel. Cruel, cruel.”

“You keep saying that like I don’t understand the concept.”

“You never struggled, Gavi. Perfect little Gavi with his perfect grades, and perfect jump shot, and perfect leadership skills.”

Gavi’s eyes opened wide. “You think I never struggled? You think I never walked down the street with my mother as a kid? I heard the things they said about her. I know how cruel children can be…” His eyes suddenly darted away and he cleared his throat roughly. “The point is that the right thing to do is stand up, function normally, and rise above. Not… avoid life.”

Laylee’s cheeks turned pink. He thinks I’m going to turn her into his mother who avoids every social situation at all costs… She opened her mouth, then closed it.

“I think that power comes from avoiding the things you know you’ll fail in,” she said finally. “And focusing on your strengths.”

“Well, we’ll have to agree to disagree,” Gavi said, checking his watch. He was clearly finished with the conversation.

“I’m just trying to protect her, Gavi.”

“Whatever. It’s your decision. Just make sure you don’t get so wrapped up in protecting her you start to limit her.”

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