I still haven’t thought of a costume.

Am I even going to the school dance?

Mom appears in the doorway. “You going, Naomi?”

She doesn’t push. It’s not her way. But a soft piece of pink is slung over her arm.

“What’s that?”

“It’s perfect for a dance,” she says. “My old ballet dress, back in my day…”

“You were a dancer?” I breathe.

“Still am inside,” she laughs, “but it’s been a while since this.”

What else don’t I know about this incredible mom of mine?

“You’ll look great in it, Naomi. I want you to have it.”

She lays it on the bed. A soft leotard covered with a tulle skirt that is threaded with glimmers of gold.

It’s beautiful. I try to imagine my no-nonsense mom in it. Myself in it.

“But Mom, there’s a theme. Either ‘In those days’ or ‘In this time.’ I can’t just turn up with anything.”

Mom looks at me. She wants me to do this. She wants me to come there, and look beautiful, and have a great time.

The dress lies there, long skirt, long sleeves.

“Oh, I know. I’ll go with ‘those days,’ when even ballet dresses were tzniyus.”

Her eyes light.

Can I do it?

What are the others being? I haven’t gotten into this at all. Will I be overdressed?

Why am I even doing this?

The phone rings and Mom goes to get it. “Naomi, it’s for you.”

It’s Leeba.

“Naomi, I-I think I’m going to come to the dance. I’m coming back to school after Purim, but it’s gonna be easier for me if I meet the crowd beforehand. The dance is a good time I think.…”

I am staggered. Leeba coming to the dance. In her wheelchair. It’ll be the most conspicuous thing.

“Wow,” I manage.

“I know,” she says. “Do you think it’s crazy?”

Crazy? It’s brave, it’s big. I can’t believe it’s Leeba.

“No,” I say, “I’m proud.” I know it sounds cheesy, but I am. For all our differences, she’s come a long way.

“My mom’s taking me,” she says. “Can we pick you up on the way? I don’t want to come in alone.”

Neither do I.

“Sure,” I say. “And Leeba, what are you dressing up as?”

She gives a little laugh. “It’s a surprise, you’ll see.”

She’s still like Shiri and Shaina and the others. Secrets, duh.

No, she’s not, Naomi. She’s doing something very bold today.

I put my hair up all the way in an updo of sorts and slip on my mom’s dress.

It fits like it was made for me.

“You look stunning, sweetie,” Mom says, taking my hand.

I hold on to hers, a moment too long.

“You’ll be fine, Naomi, I know you will,” she says, grasping me again, before there’s a honk from outside and I dash out. 

(Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 703)