“I can’t turn up just like that.” Sarah slinks down the steps, scuffing her shoes as she goes.

I sprint over the last four steps and face her from the bottom of the staircase, hands on hips, “Why ever not?” I say mock-seriously.

But Sarah doesn’t kibitz back. She looks downright nervous, lashes blinking too fast over amber eyes.

“I think you’d better introduce me,” she says.

“Introduce you? Don’t you think Mrs. Marcus knows you by now? Who do you care about anyway, a couple of tenth graders, Tehilla, Kayla?”

She gives a little snort, but says, “I don’t know, I’ve never been there before, I’m not part of the crew...”

I slip my hand through the crook of her arm, grandma-style. “Well, you are now,” I say and lead her down the hall.

For Sarah’s sake though — she’s standing stiffly at the door as the others wave us in — I launch into a rather flamboyant introduction.

“So, Mrs. Marcus, this is Sarah. Sarah, Mrs. Marcus.”

Mrs. Marcus rolls her eyes, like what on earth? Sarah giggles.

But somehow, science geek, bookish thing that I am, I’m actually enjoying the theatrics.

“Sarah’s quite the butterfly aficionado,” I continue, “but we know that already because she’s chosen to represent our winged friends in her science report. So I thought I’d bring her in to help us with the launch of the butterfly project today.”

Kayla and the tenth graders laugh out loud.

Mrs. Marcus puts her thumb up. “Perfect,” she says.

“That was some intro,” Sarah mutters beside me, but then she’s laughing too, the ice in the room broken, melting under the door.

“All right girls, come around here, Tehilla’s going to show you what happens next,” Mrs. Marcus calls.

Tehilla leads us over to the windowsill where three cups are positioned to catch the sunlight. Inside, chrysalises have formed. A few days ago, they were caterpillars, grubby, many-legged caterpillars, inching around for all they were worth. We watched them eat, spin silk, and grow, shedding their skeletons as they grew out of them. Now hardening, they appear almost dead in their chrysalises.

“They’re fully hardened now. All of them are. We’re finally ready to move them into their new homes.”

Tehilla hands out large cylinders, and flowers in tiny planters to pairs of us. “We’ve got to design the butterfly habitat and then carefully move them over,” she says.

Sarah and I sit down on some lab stools and place the flowers prettily inside our habitat. “We need them in here so they can drink the nectar as soon as they become butterflies,” I explain.

Sarah looks up at me. “You know, you’re pretty dramatic — and good. I didn’t know.”

“I didn’t know either,” I say. “Promise. But something’s got into me here, and hey, maybe I’m not half bad.”

“It’s this room, it’s the energy here,” she says.

And I like her more right then for even talking about energy, for touching the specialness of this place so fast. (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 690)