T he house is shrouded in darkness. I creep down the stairs silently, like a shadowy ghost. The place is dead. I feel as though, at the speed of lightning, the madness of the world came to a screeching halt. That’s what I love about night, the feeling of being the only one up in the sleeping world.

I peer out the window. The pearly moon glitters on the navy velvet sky. I inhale the pure night air. The peaceful ambience gives my nerves a time-out. It’s at this time of day that I can sit down and embrace myself in the fanciful planet of unreality. Thinking and fantasizing refreshes my soul, and allows me to connect to my real being.

I think about myself. What am I? Am I a puppet staging a show, forced to play a part that isn’t me? I sometimes feel as though my insides and outsides were mistakenly mismatched.

On the surface, I come from the respectable Keller family whose name is plated on every public building, thanks to the generous donation contributed. But at the core, I am Adina, an introverted oddball with theoretical ideas and inspiration. I’d sooner wear colorful stockings than settle on the predictable solids. Routine sickens me.

But as a Keller, I have to stick to the rules. I can’t go on to become an astronaut; I’m stuck in becoming a redundant doctor or teacher. I feel as though I’m a chunk of clay, warped in a figure I disapprove of. And worst of all, no one understands me.

When I had my mind fixed on playing the harp, my parents tried persuading me to buy the classic piano, but I refused. I fancy the soft melody of the harp that makes you feel like you’re floating in the glories of paradise. But most of all I love it because… it’s different.

Thinking of my harp, I get tempted to play. The hour of the night doesn’t deter me. I head to the basement, to the furthest guest suite, and shut the door behind me. I close my eyes, and start plucking the delicate strings to create a melodious tune. The beds and the furniture fade away and I’m suddenly under the hot spotlights, lost in the cheers of applause. I must say, it feels good.

“Adina?”

I land from the clouds with a thud and find my mother in her morning robe standing before me.

“It is way past midnight,” she says, “and you’re waking up the whole house.” Ouch. How can I forget that my mother is such a light sleeper that she’ll wake up from an ant crawling on the floor?

“Sorry,” I say, trying hard to mean it.

“It’s okay.” She pauses. “But, Adina?”

“Yeah?”

“What’s the story with that new girl in your class?” I can hear my mother’s silent plea that I’ll say I want to befriend her.

“Not my type.” I feel awful crushing her hope.

My mother exhales deeply. “So, who is your type?” she says, frustrated. My mother finds it hard to believe that as senior, I still don’t have friends. What she doesn’t get is that the best friend I can ever have is myself. After all, I know myself best. And the small-minded teenage chatter grates on my nerves.

“Friends are so important in life,” she continues before I have a chance to answer. “I can’t imagine myself without my friends.” Oh yeah, I’ve heard these words countless times before. I snort. “Ayala and Henny both had such a wonderful group of friends in high school,” she continues, “why can’t you be the same?” Oh, here she goes again comparing me to my older sisters, anxiously trying to mold me in the typical Keller cookie cutter. Well, she’s stuck with her unsuccessful daughter that won’t ever fit the image.

“I’ll try,” I say half-heartedly. I mumble something about how tired I am, and rush to the privacy of my own four walls. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 687)