I ’m standing over my brother. I can feel my face reddening and hair frizzling away, so uninhibited it could be a lion’s mane.

He bites his lip. He’s stuck, he’s cornered. “Wait, I can explain,” he says.

I cannot hear it. Not when we’re talking about my therapy journal. No teen’s petty privacies. I mean, the stuff in there hurts.

“I, I just came up here to get my Chumash. You took it last week, and, and I saw, um, this, and I put it in my pocket because I didn’t want you to know I’d seen it…” His voice trails off, stupid sounding.

What is he saying? I knit my eyebrows together. I look as scary as an older sister by 11 months can, about to give it to my brother, when he says, “Naomi, I’d never look at your journal. Never. I wouldn’t want anyone to do that to me. But this is different.”

He holds the glossy journal out, like a flag of surrender.

I stare at it. At the Technicolor sea life swirling through coral reefs on the cover. It’s a different world inside that book, like that front cover. A world I do not want my brother to be part of. A world I wish I never knew, even while I know it’s an inextricable part of me.

And suddenly I don’t even care.

“Take it,” I say. “Read it. The whole thing.”

Rafi looks stricken.

“Yeah, why not?” I say. “It makes a great story.” My voice is deadpan, blah.

He switches tracks.

“You know I wouldn’t usually have looked. You know it’s not my style.”

He looks so earnest, Rafi, and I waver. He’s something of a tzaddik really, cut from the same cloth as Mom. He’s too good, too honest to read my private stuff.

But it was in his pocket!

“I would’ve put it right back when you were out or something,” he says, “without looking at a word.”

And I have to believe him. My brother does have it in him to do something like that. He waves the book at me. “Take it already.”

“I don’t know that I want it,” I say. “I haven’t read a word since last year.”

The lines inside are squiggly blue, like waves. I’ve filled it with so much, it’s a tempest in there.

“But Naomi,” Rafi blurts. “Okay, okay, don’t scream, but it fell down and opened and I saw you’ve been writing letters to Daddy.

“Writing to Daddy,” he repeats in a kind of wonder, and I can see he’s impressed.

I’m not angry anymore, just heaving, heavy. I put my head in my hands. Can I talk about it? Open it? The journal? The letters? Everything?

When I lift my head, Rafi’s looking at me. “I wish I had been, too…” he whispers. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 663)