A roaring, swishing stream of girls flows through the corridor and down to the cafeteria. On either side, classroom doors open and more girls trickle out. Like tributaries into a river, I think.

I am pushing against the tide, though. I’m not headed for the cafeteria like everyone else.

It’s just midday, but it’s been too long of a day already. I’m off to the lab for lunch.

Someone is there, her back against the glass of the door.

I swing my sandwich reluctantly and tiptoe away.

The shadow moves away from the door and sits down. I look back. It is a face I know well. A 12th-grader full of paradoxes; a tough cookie, but soft and bird-like in song; a go-getter who could put 70 — okay, 69 — girls in their places, but somewhat alone even among her classmates, in the trio of choir heads.

Tehilla.

She sits at the table next to Mrs. Marcus, and it dawns on me that Mrs. Marcus is not just my teacher. Or just the ninth-grader teacher. She teaches multiple classes, and evidently she looks out for each girl.

They look like old chums. Tehilla is laughing about something as they bend over a science book.

Does Tehilla need extra help with science? I don’t think so, it’s hard to imagine her sitting the Regents, she’s beyond that somehow.

Is it that she needs a space to get away?

Like me?

I don’t have time to ruminate, for Mrs. Marcus looks up and catches my wandering eye.

I blush to the roots of my hair.

Mrs. Marcus gestures for me to come in.

I shake my head slightly and turn down the hall, mortified.

“Naomi,” comes a gentle voice.

I turn around.

“Come on in, we need some help inside.”

I would protest, I didn’t get along very famously with Tehilla — I wonder if she ever found out that I wasn’t in the choir — but hey, what could they need help with?

I give Mrs. Marcus a lopsided smile and walk hesitantly into the room.

Tehilla waves. So she’s not angry at me? I look from her to Mrs. Marcus, and a niggling suspicion worms its way in. Mrs. Marcus knew I wasn’t in production, did she tell Tehilla not to nag me? Even with 70 girls to keep track of, it was out of character for her not to notice…

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 682)