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House of Mirrors: Chapter 11

Rachael Lavon

A photo shoot shows Laylee how people are judged by their appearances. Laylee’s parents invite the family for Shabbos Chanukah. Sarah doesn’t want to go

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

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"T hings changed at the end of 11th grade.” Sarah grabbed a crayon from Rikki’s box on the table and began doodling in the Shopkins notepad sitting next to it.

“You mean, you changed,” Laylee countered.

“No, the focus changed. Life shifted to the future and it was like everyone around me was living in this… this constant state of seminary and shidduchim. Every action, every grade was a means to an end. Every conversation… It was like a collective exodus from the present.”

Laylee smiled. “I remember that. Until mid-February of 12th grade… and then everyone’s plans solidify…” She trailed off awkwardly. Sarah let out a little laugh.

“Yeah. Well. Not everyone’s plans, right?” She flashed Laylee a phony smile. Clearing her throat she turned back to her doodling. “Maybe it’s because I’m the youngest, and all of you are married and I see stuff, you know? I see that it’s not… not always perfect. That life doesn’t automatically become amazing after the chasunah.”

Laylee shifted in her chair uncomfortably while she studied her sister for a moment, her hair bundled recklessly in a bun, her camp sweatshirt hanging off her small frame. Too smart for her own good. “So, anyway, I was talking to this random girl in my class at the end of last year,” Sarah continued. “A girl I really had nothing to do with, one of the girls who sits in the back, you know the type? Too shy, or not cool enough, or other problems, like family stuff and whatever.” Laylee nodded,

“And I kind of rolled my eyes at this all-consuming obsession with things to come. And she looked at me with this smirk and said, ‘You’re not worried about the future? The 15 percent? The shidduch crisis?’ I kind of shrugged and she burst out laughing. ‘That’s because your last name is on buildings all over the city and you’re a size zero with a perfect GPA and a tiny nose.’ And behind her smile there was this anger, Laylee… This, this fury. I was embarrassed. I wanted to justify myself, to tell her that I’m just a product of my society — it’s not my fault I’ll be engaged to some entitled trust-fund boy by the time I turn 19.” “That’s what you said to her?”

“No. I wrote down Dr. Steinholme’s name and told her that she, too, could have a tiny nose for the low, low price of surgery and a two-week ‘trip to Bubby in Florida,’ ” Sarah said, a little smile dancing over her lips.

Laylee covered her face with her hands.

“You didn’t, Sarah! That’s confidential information,” Laylee moaned.

“I did. And so began a wonderful relationship with a whole different group of friends. We spent our time discussing things honestly. We stripped away all the cotton candy and got straight to the core of things. We picked apart a particular brand of inauthentic, self-gratifying social Judaism. And, at first it felt good, Laylee. It felt real. It hit me when I went to Binny’s annual Nine Days Barbeque siyum.”

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