L aylee pulled the rearview mirror toward her, inspecting herself quickly before pulling into her parents’ driveway.

“I can’t believe you drove me all this way… I could have taken a bus,” Sarah said, undoing her buckle. She cocked her head to the side, watching Laylee examine herself in the mirror. “What are you looking for in there?”

“A bus?” Laylee ignored the question. “I wanted to drive you. Who knows when we’ll get to see you again! Off to Eretz Yisrael…”

“I still can’t believe you convinced them.” Sarah moved her hand to open the door and then stopped. “Am I crazy? For doing this? And at such a random time of the year… summer session…”

Laylee laughed as she got out of the car. “Yes, you’re crazy. And it’s going to be great. And if it’s not great, you’ll come back to Elmway.”

“I’m not coming back to Elmway,” Sarah said quietly.

“I know. So you’d better make it great.”

They grabbed Sarah’s bags and walked up to the house. It was the same as always, a rush of memories that were never altogether pleasant but always made Laylee’s heart beat a little faster.

Her mother appeared, wrapping her in a quick, cold hug. She had finally acquiesced to sending Sarah to Ahuvim, but was far from happy about it. “You should have backed me on this, Laylee,” she’d said into the phone. “I’m her mother.”

Sarah stood awkwardly in the hall, her mother looking over her long black skirt and shirt. “Sarah, we need to buy you clothing before you fly. You have to look presentable, even if you’re going to a…” She let the rest of the sentence hang in the air for a moment, and Sarah turned on her heel and went upstairs. Her mother let out a short little breath before turning to Laylee. “I have a few dresses on the table for your girls. Go see what you like.”

Laylee walked into the dining room, noticed the name of her favorite kids’ boutique store on the bags. “Thanks, Mommy. I haven’t had time to finish up buying their summer stuff… it’s been hectic.” She opened the bags one by one. Size 5, size 5… size 5. “Um, these are all for Rikki.”

“Well, Perla is impossible to shop for, Laylee. I looked, believe me. I did. I can’t start shlepping out to specialty stores.”

Laylee felt the sting spread from her cheeks over her face. She opened her mouth to respond but nothing came out. “I can’t take these home without something for Perla,” she mumbled at last. Her mother seemed surprised, then slightly embarrassed.

“So leave them here, Laylee. I’ll give them to Nina,” she said curtly, walking into the kitchen.

Laylee wandered upstairs. “I think I’m going to head out,” she said to Sarah, standing in the doorway of Sarah’s room.

“What? You can’t stay for a little bit? It’s a long drive.”

Laylee sat down on the bed, eyes slightly dazed.

“I was going to tell you to close the blog. But on second thought, maybe I should start blogging about where to find plus-sized kids’ clothing. I can’t be the only mother with…”

Sarah looked at her. “Or maybe, if you really want to make a difference, the great Laylee Beloff should blog about making meaningful connections with family members, no matter their size or what school they go to or how perfect they look on paper, or in print, or in pictures.”

Laylee let out a little laugh. “Me? I wouldn’t… know how to do that.”

Sarah raised an eyebrow. “I beg to differ.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 541)