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Teen Fiction: Missing Pages

Chaiky Berger

“Hey, just chill,” Shulamis cheers me up. “Just wait till we play the game… hope you won’t be too embarrassed,” she warns.

Wednesday, December 07, 2016

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Photo: Shutterstock

T amar isn’t here. Why not? She didn’t tell me she wasn’t going to make it. Why hasn’t she come? I scan the crowd, my classmates dressed in Shabbos clothes, and I don’t spot the familiar lime and blue; the lime and blue that makes Tamar Tamar.

Those colors are also what made us friends back then. We both favored lime and blue. For a moment I wish I could be back there, in the simplicity of Pre-1A, in the surroundings of its bold and clear colors. Traversing the social cosmos had been smoother, and impressing the adult crowd had been simpler. But now I’m here, at a Shabbos oneg in Zipporah’s home on a gloomy, cold Shabbos afternoon. It had all Mrs. Tybur’s idea….

“I would like to schedule a Shabbos oneg. I need a volunteer who can offer her house, some volunteers who can take care of the food, and others who will take care of the program. Perhaps some of you would even like to arrange a choir?” And then, “And of course a devar Torah.”

It seemed like I’d only just begun to mark off the days of the new school year on my calendar, and already she was adding more to the schedule? Though it was already November, I still felt like I needed to catch my breath. “I’d rather sleep. Shabbos afternoons are sooooo short,” I whispered to Shulamis, whose desk neighbors mine.

“Don’t be a spoilsport. Anyhow, you can always make your cutesy cupcakes for the occasion,” she muttered.

“Wha—?” I hissed. “Work so hard for a simple class party?”

“Just a suggestion. Anyhow, who said it’s less important than doing a chesed or making cake for a simchah? Maybe you should really do it.”

“Maybe I will, but it’s loads of work, just so you know. Like don’t swallow a cupcake in one shot without first approving of it symmetry and analyzing its art,” I warned.

“Won’t,” she agreed.

Yeah. Maybe I’ll decorate some cupcakes, I thought. I can make cupcakes decorated like a piece of loose-leaf paper. That should be school-themed enough.

“Hey, do you thing a loose-leaf theme would be good?” I turned to ask Tamar.

Tamar had her head buried in her spiral notebook. Only I knew this wasn’t an ordinary spiral. The word “Private” is hiding behind the regular composition flap. 

“A page like this?” She singled out one sheet of paper, its blue with red lines bold as candy-coloring. 

“Yeah.”

 

“Sure. Adorable.” She smiled, then buried her head again. One hand forms a “V” and the other hand is its mirror image. Her overgrown pony hides her face and no one can see what she’s writing. Most girls think she’s doodling, or napping, or writing history.

I leaned over to look. She flapped her book closed, but not angrily. “Whatever,” she told me and smiled.

“Yeah. Whatever,” I echoed. Hey, I’m her best friend. I do know what “whatever” means.

“You shouldn’t be keeping a book like this in your locker,” I reprimanded her. I slid my glasses to the tip of my nose. “Anyone can think it’s your history notes and just take it out to copy."

“Nah. Nobody does such things around here. We’re all pretty much in the habit of asking permission before we open lockers.”

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