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Forgive Me

Malka Katzman

My face burns up and I spill my wrath on to my counselor, Miriam. “You’re so mean! That’s not nice!” Horrifically enough, I burst into tears

Wednesday, August 09, 2017

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T he caller is hesitant. “Is this… Malka?”

“Y-yes.”

“I’m Miriam Stern, uh, Breuer from home. I… was your day camp counselor in Chaviv.”

Miriam? Breuer? Chaviv Day Camp? Like, at least ten years ago? What in the world?

She’s waiting. Miriam Breuer. Oh yes, maybe she was that lanky counselor with the tight curly ponytail?

“Uh, right. Um, yes, I remember something. Hi.”

Hi. I’m proud of that polite greeting. I didn’t throw back, So why are you calling and how did you track me down after all these years, in Israel no less?

“So look, I’m calling to ask for your forgiveness.”

Gasp.

“Um, you know, there were things I did…”

Chaviv Day Camp. Miriam Breuer. I remember now.



I am singing with all my heart and soul. “David Melech Yisrael, chai, chai v’kayam…” Singing, singing, with my head bent over to my knees and my fingers stuck firmly into my ears. That’s the game. Everyone sings with their eyes and ears closed, and one girl goes around tapping everyone’s shoulders to signal them to stop… except for one girl. She’s left singing solo, until she’s had enough and picks up her head to discover everyone watching her in amusement.

I’m singing for so long. I raise my head and open my eyes. Laughter thunders in the room and hits me like a tornado. I was the one teased and humiliated.

My face burns up and I spill my wrath on to my counselor, Miriam. “You’re so mean! That’s not nice!”

Horrifically enough, I burst into tears, right in front of the whole bunk.

“But that’s the game!” Miriam protests. She turns away, smirking, and shares a wink with Devoiry, our assistant counselor.

I blink my eyes furiously, willing the wetness to go away. I gnash my teeth madly. I hate Miriam, I decide. I hate her!

Luckily, my best friend Baila sticks up for me. I’m secretly relieved when she musters the guts and chants, “We hate Miriam! We hate Miriam!”

Miriam grabs Baila by the shoulder. Shaking with fury, she pulls her to the sinks. She jabs at the soap dispenser, fills her hand with a pink puddle of soap, and slaps it onto Baila’s mouth.

Baila sputters, turning the brightest red I’ve ever seen. She coughs and spits soap onto her sleeves and the floor.

“Maybe now you’ll have a cleaner mouth!” Miriam screeches.

For the rest of the summer, Baila and I gang up against Miriam, and she punishes us daily. Boy, are we glad when we celebrate the end-of-the-summer banquet.

*

That was ten years ago. I’ve grown since then, in many ways.

“I forgive you. Do… do you forgive me?”

Miriam’s voice is almost a whisper. “Yes. And… thank you so much. Things have been… happening, and…”

We hang up the phone somehow. She never finished her sentence, but my imagination fills in the blanks.

 

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 672) 

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