I t’s Monday. And even worse than that, it feels like Monday. Moody Monday. In fact, I woke up this morning with such a Monday stomachache, I almost managed to convince my mother that it was not only good for me to stay at home, but also necessary, essential, and crucial. But when I started using words like those, she gave me one of those parental guilt-inducing looks and I got out of bed with a groan.

Anyway, where did we leave off? Right, Wednesday. When Dassi got cold feet and mine were also feeling slightly icy. In retrospect, probably an omen of what was yet to come….

So on Thursday, we walked into school at some ridiculously early hour, to give out our survey cards at the door. Sorele and Bruchi were already waiting when Dassi and I turned up — late due to Dassi’s realization that she’d left her daily cup of cocoa by her front door. (And yes, that did annoy me, just a teeny-weeny bit….) But we were still early enough to see Mrs. Gordon, the secretary, walking in. Bruchi commented that Mrs. Gordon was one person who everyone thought lived in school, and we all laughed at the truth in that statement. When had there been a time when Mrs. Gordon hadn’t been in school, with her glasses perched on her nose, and a stern look over them for any latecomer? Well, we certainly weren’t going to be getting one of those today.

At first, when the girls arrived, we were enthusiastic as we handed out the cards and told them our scheme in a detailed, long-winded explanation. This was not a good idea. By the time the first bell for davening rang, we were all so hoarse that we could barely get two words out. And then, there were the questions. Seriously. Like the tenth grader who asked about which teachers were going to see the cards. And then the girl who wanted to know what the reward would be. Never mind the ones who talked their way through the instructions, and then asked us to repeat them. Now I know what my teachers feel like, I thought wryly. But everyone had the cards, and that was a good start.

I didn’t hear much about the cards after that on Thursday, because lunch break was occupied with a last-minute cramming session for a Chumash test which had completely slipped my mind. Sorele gave me one of those looks as she walked out the classroom door, as if to say, Can’t you get your act together? I scowled at her back. It was easy enough for some.

On Friday, I listened with satisfaction as two of my classmates, Michal and Shoshi, showed off their tallies. Bruchi also said she thought the scheme was working, and leaving school at one, I thought that perhaps the world wasn’t such a bad place after all, even with Mrs. Levison and her projects. But then there was the cousin issue. It was Shabbos Mevarchin, and as usual, my cousins were planning a get-together for Sunday. Chava phoned me up, smiling through the phone in her typically cheery manner.

“Hi, Libby, how are you?”

“Never better!” I responded, sunnily.

“Good. So we were thinking that we could do ice skating on Sunday? Will you come?” Sigh. It’s not that I don’t like my cousins. The five of us, all close in age, sometimes had a blast together. But I didn’t like feeling like I needed to join in. Why couldn’t they ever do these things without me? So a few months before, when we were meant to go bowling, I said I was feeling sick. Rachelli had come by later to show me the pictures on her camera, along with a bunch of balloons. I’d felt bad, but… well, no harm done, right? And this time, I didn’t want to go ice skating.

“I’d like to come,” I said smoothly, “but I’ve got a ton of schoolwork to do.” Which was partly true, because there were notes to catch up on from about pre-1a if I wanted to. Okay, exaggeration, more like three months ago. Chava sounded disappointed.

“But can’t you do some of it on Motzaei Shabbos and come with us on Sunday? It would be a shame for you to miss out…” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 657)