B eeping, chattering, wheeling carts, a nurse’s cackle. Mere inches from where we are, but it might all be happening in another world. A green curtain skirts around the three of us so that we are in our own plane of existence. Out of sight, out of mind, they say.

I yawn and have to laugh. Mrs. Marcus was telling us about a study in which two groups of people sat down to a dinner of chicken wings. The ones who had plates of half-eaten wings, left over by other diners, piled on the table ate less than the group who had the leftover plates removed and couldn’t see what had been eaten before.

Out of sight, out of mind.

Too true.

Mom’s fallen asleep in her chair, head resting on her silvery lizard-grain handbag. Rafi’s drifting off too. They’re keeping him here on observation for a couple of hours. It’s been a long night.

I slip open the curtain, open our world to the happening world of the ward.

I’m not really thirsty but I go get a drink from the water machine because it’s something to do.

I look down the hall. I want to see the goings-on, but I’m scared of meeting anyone who looks too gory. Grown men, helpless and horizontal on hospital cots, hanging limbs, wounds... I can’t stomach any of it.

I watch two girls walk by at the end of the hall. They turn around.

They look at me. Me at them.

Slowly one of them straggles down the corridor, toward me.

“So, you came...” Shaina says.

“I guess,” I say.

How on earth do they know about Rafi, and what are they doing here?

Rikki comes over too and stands hesitantly next to Shaina. I’ve never seen her so disconcerted.

“So, you must have heard...” she mumbles.

I look at her quizzically.

“We tried to call you at home. All evening. But you weren’t answering. Leeba’s mom said we should, she was asking for you.” She is rambling, harping on about something I am not getting.

An old man on crutches heaves himself past us. We scrunch against the wall. The three of us huddling together.

This is bizarre. An unlikely conversation with Shaina and Rikki in a hospital corridor of all places. I am about to excuse myself, tell them I have to check on my family, but I notice that Rikki is looking at me, expecting a response, and something of what she said clicks.

“Leeba’s mom?”

They both nod.

“She’s here? Leeba is here?”

“She’s fully conscious now, woke up a few days ago,” Shaina says. “I thought you knew.”

I hold myself against the cold green wall.

I’m feeling green myself.

My heart is pulsing in my hands, in my head. I am shocked and relieved and nervous and disbelieving at once.

“Baruch Hashem,” I say belatedly.

They nod, solemn and thoughtful. Not Shaina-Rikki-like.

“She’s upstairs, on the fifth floor,” Shaina says. “We were just there... her mom called some of her friends to be with her, to lift her spirits a little.”

“She’s just so out of it,” Rikki says. “But it’s good for her to have people over apparently. And her mother was asking for you.” (Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 689)