I stared at the scribbled numbers on the board. Mrs. Mengel’s math class tended to be long and not the most interesting. Math was never my favorite. Behind me, Golda Sima and Gayil were secretly rolling the ball to each other with their feet. Next to me, Faigy was smoothing out her dirty blond side bangs. To the right, Tova was making her hair and Tamara was staring into space. I allowed my mind to wander. Ricky’s having her fifth birthday on Sunday, and next Shabbos, I’m going to Aunt Malka and Uncle Tzvi and having a blast with cousin Fraida. I wondered who will move to that empty house down the block. I wondered if Ma would notice who ate the last cookie last night, and if little Shimmy would make me read him a dozen books again when I put him to sleep.
I blinked back to reality. Mimi, smart and perfect, who sat directly in front of the teacher’s desk, was asking a question.
“…and if you do it that way, would the answer be different?” she was asking. Before Mrs. Mengel could babble a whole long answer, I raised my hand and asked if I could go to the bathroom.
Skipping down the hall, I heard my name being called.
“Hi Shiff! My class is having recess now,” my nine year old sister Aviva called.
I ran over to her.
“Lucky! We’re having math,” I told her.
“Oh by the way, Tammy Fried has chicken pox!” she told me.
“What did you say? Tamara? What about her?”
“No. Who’s Tamara? I said Tammy Fried has chicken pox.”
“Oh boy! Anyway, I got to go. See ya!” I called, heading towards the bathroom.
I then wondered why I thought of Tamara all of a sudden.
I went to the bathroom deep in thought. I was about to wash my hands when suddenly an ear piercing, screeching sound hit my ears.
It was a fire alarm.
I pushed and shoved at the door with all my might but it wouldn’t budge.
To be continued…