"W hat will YOU be?”

A poster with an oversized finger jabbing out adorns the wall of the corridor.

“Gosh, I haven’t given it any thought,” Batsheva wails.

“Really?” Shaina says “I’ve got my costume all planned out.”

“What are you going with, ‘In those days,’ or ‘In this time’?” Batsheva asks.

“Top secret. You’ll have to guess from my costume...” Shaina gives her a half-smile and walks off.

“Is it really so major?” I muse out loud.

Batsheva, still looking thoughtfully at the poster, turns to me. “Oh, you have no idea. My sisters tell me it’s huge.”

“You don’t sound so excited,” I say.

She makes an exaggerated give-me-a-break face. “Such a pressure.”

She takes another long look at the poster and shakes her head. “But you don’t do pressure at all. So you probably don’t care.”

Don’t I? I suppose not in the way that some of the others do. But, but how does a random kid I have nothing to do with decide that about me?

“So what if I don’t,” I say a bit huffily. “How does that help me?”

“It must,” she says. “I wish I wouldn’t care so much...”

She splays her hands out in a helpless gesture, and says, “Going down to the cafeteria?”

I shake my head. More girls stressing about their costumes — not for me.

But even in the lab, all they can talk about is the Purim fair.

“My brother has this hoodie from a football team he once played for, and hello, his number was 2018. It’s painted onto the back and it’s totally become cool this year. I’m going to wear it to the fair.” Kayla is talking to Dassi, a tenth grader who likes to hang out in the lab too.

Mrs. Marcus looks up from the papers she’s grading, and flashes a smile. “Nice.”

“You’re giving it away, Kayla,” I say. “You’re letting us know beforehand that you’re going with, ‘In this time’?”

“Oh, please, Naomi.”

I go over to the windowsill to check on the chrysalises. “They’re darkening,” I say.

“You think?” Kayla says.

Tehilla said that they’d darken and we’d start to see the outlines of their wings and bodies inside the chrysalides just before they were ready to emerge.

She comes over and squints, “Hmm, I think you’re seeing things, Naomi.”

“Anyway, it’s not quite time yet,” Dassi calls.

“Spoilsports,” I mutter.

“All in good time,” comes a voice from behind a stack of papers.

I sit down, wondering, not for this first time, at how normal it feels to hang out here in Mrs. Marcus’s room. At how okay she is with it. At how okay we are with her. Our conversations ebb and flow around her like a stream, and sometimes she throws something in, sometimes not, and never is the flow of the stream interrupted.

Kayla sits down too. “So, what are you going to be?”

“Me?” I close my eyes. Coming along with a gaudy costume. Everyone breathing down each other’s neck trying to guess what part of the theme they’ve gone with. Sweaty dancing. No, it’s not any of those things so much; maybe what I’m most wary about is a together dance?

“I don’t know,” I say at last. “I don’t know if I’m coming to the Purim fair at all.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 698)