Written by: HC, age 14, PA Illustrated by: Sarah Graff, age 15, MD
The sixth-graders stood around together, chattering and comparing their outfits. Because there was no uniform policy in their school, they all looked like a field of wild flowers.
Just before the bell rang for their first class, they were all surprised to see a new girl walk up. She wore a simple navy-blue denim skirt, long sleeved light blue shirt, and a deep blue sweater. Her hair was up in a pony-tail, with a blue hairband. This was the fourth day of school, so she was joining them a little late. The girl was shy and pale-faced. She climbed the steps and introduced herself in a soft, bashful voice. “Hi, I’m Miriam Bloom. I’m 12, and I’m going to be your new classmate. My family moved in a few days ago.”
“Miriam Bloom? More like Miriam Blue!” Chaya Aish said scornfully. Chaya’s friends began to laugh. Miriam looked sad, then sighed and went inside the school.
One of the girls, Baila Rosenthal, watched Miriam as she disappeared into the building. She felt bad for the new girl and felt sorry that she had laughed at her.
“Hi,” Baila introduced hers
“How about I walk you to class, and later, give you a tour of the school?” Baila offered. Miriam shyly nodded her thanks.“Thank you, Baila,” Miriam smiled, “I hope so, too. I could use a friend.”elf, “I’m Baila Rosenthal. I just wanted to apologize. I’m 13 years old, and I hope we can become friends, because you look kind of lonely.” Baila left the assembly of girls who were still making up insulting names for Miriam and rushed to find her. She was by her locker.
A few minutes later, the bell rang, alerting the girls outside, who were still whispering and giggling about the new girl, that it was time for class. Miriam heard some of the jeers of the girls, and was upset to think that they could be so hurtful towards her without even knowing her.
Baila and Miriam didn’t sit together during class, because Miriam worried that the group would think that Baila was friends with her. Miriam didn’t want her new friend to deal with the teasing remarks, so she made sure to ignore her when they were in the classroom. Baila did give Miriam a tour of the school – just like she had offered.
After school was over for the day, Baila walked home with Miriam, since they lived a couple blocks from each other. “I live here with my Ima, Abba, and little sister,” Baila told Miriam. “I’ll introduce them.”
“Thank you,” Miriam was smiling.
“Come in,” Baila invited, beckoning to her friend. Miriam followed her as she climbed the stairs into her kitchen and greeted her mom.
“Hi Ima (Mother), I’m home! This is Miriam Bloom. She’s the new girl in our school.” Mrs. Rosenthal greeted Miriam warmly. She than introduced her younger sister, Yocheved, a cute seven year old, to Miriam.
Soon the two girls left for Miriam’s house. “Momma!” Miriam called, stepping over unpacked boxes in her hallway. “I’m home!” Mrs. Bloom came downstairs and greeted her daughter.
“And this is..?” She looked at Baila, and then turned to Miriam.
“This is Baila Rosenthal. She’s 13 and in my class.” Mrs. Bloom smiled at Baila, and apologized for the mess. After the introductions were done, Baila excused herself saying that she had lots of homework to do.
A few days later, when Baila arrived at school, there was a group of girls waiting for her with taunting comments. They had seen Miriam with Baila the last couple of days and had guessed correctly that they were becoming friends
“Hey, it’s the Gloom-lover!” Chaya Aish jeered mockingly.
Baila turned to face the girl. “That’s not true!” she retorted. “You’re always like your name – a fiery animal with a short temper!” Chaya’s eyes became red from the stinging insult.
Another girl, Yehudis Schwartz, spoke up. She was tall with a loud, authoritative voice. “You have two choices, Baila Rosenthal!” She pointed her finger at Baila. “Either you drop the new kid, or we’re going to drop you!”
Before Baila could find words to reply, the troop turned and walked away.
Miriam arrived at the school then, but when she asked Baila to walk with her to class, Baila refused. “Not today, Miriam. I have a few things that I need to think about.” Miriam nodded, but she was wondering why Baila looked so sad.
The school day went by slowly, and Baila caught a few threatening glances from several of the girls in the group. She was distracted the entire day, thinking about what to tell Miriam that wouldn’t hurt her feelings. She did enjoy the company of the other girls, but she also liked Miriam very much.
At the end of the day, Baila rushed outside to be able to walk home alone. Miriam looked for Baila, and was surprised to find that she had already left. She had intended to ask her what was wrong.
Since Miriam lived near Baila, she hurried towards their street. Three minutes of sprinting, and Miriam caught sight of Baila wandering aimlessly on the sidewalk. Miriam scurried even faster and had almost caught up to Baila.
Baila stepped onto the street absent-minded, unaware of an oncoming van. Miriam saw the rapidly approaching vehicle, and shouted warnings to Baila to get to safety. It was too late when she looked up.
The van was almost upon her, and Baila froze in fear.
Miriam darted into the street, shoving Baila as hard as she could out of the path of danger. Baila tripped and fell onto the sidewalk, but Miriam couldn’t get out of the street fast enough, and the van ran over her foot as she was trying to get up.
The driver didn’t seem to care, because he didn’t stop to see if Miriam was okay. Miriam screamed in pain, while Baila desperately called 9-1-1, explaining that someone had just been hit by a car. An ambulance was dispatched immediately.
The driver was long gone by the time Miriam was carefully strapped to a stretcher and taken away. Baila was unsure of what to do next, but thought Mrs. Bloom needed to know.
It was a good thing that Baila had gone with Miriam to her house as that helped her know the way now. She rushed as fast as her legs would carry her to the Bloom home. Scared and out of breath, she repeatedly pushed the doorbell.
It took a minute or so for Mrs. Bloom to answer the door. “Baila?” she said in surprise, “What’s wrong?”
“Miriam was run over by a car and taken to the hospital!” Baila managed to blurt the words.
Mrs. Bloom’s face went white; she braced herself on the door frame. Baila waited silently until Mrs. Bloom regained her composure. Mrs. Bloom looked straight at Baila. “I’m not sure where the hospital is. Will you come with me and direct me there?” She asked in a tear-choked whisper.
Baila nodded quickly, not knowing what else to say. The events had not fully caught up with her yet. “I know the way,” Baila told Mrs. Bloom as they slid into the car.
They arrived at the hospital and hopped from the car. Mrs. Bloom quickly ran into the emergency entrance.
Baila felt that she couldn’t enter yet. She went to a remote place in the back of the hospital near a few trees. She knew that Miriam’s self-sacrifice had saved her life. Baila started crying. “It’s my fault she’s hurt,” she wept to herself. Baila began to pray for Miriam silently. Baila soon straightened up and wiped her eyes, then walked slowly to calm herself before entering the building.
Miriam was in emergency surgery to reconstruct her foot, so Baila called her mom to let her know where she was and why, and then joined Mrs. Bloom. They waited nervously.
An hour passed, then two.
The door of the waiting room opened and a nurse came in, holding a clipboard. “Hello, Mrs. Bloom,” she said kindly. “Miriam is almost out of surgery and she’s doing fine. I have a few forms for you to fill out if you feel up to it.”
Mrs. Bloom nodded and took the clipboard extended towards her. Baila looked at a clock in front of her, and saw that it was a quarter past six. Her mother would want her home for dinner now, but she hadn’t seen Miriam yet.
When Mrs. Bloom had finished scribbling through the forms, she glanced at the clock and suggested to Baila that they go get some food from the hospital cafeteria. Baila agreed and they left.
Baila had been feeling extremely guilty that Mrs. Bloom didn’t even know why Miriam was hurt. Finally, she couldn’t take it anymore. “Mrs. Bloom, I need to tell you that the reason why Miriam is in surgery and not at home is because of me,” Baila’s voice was choked by the tears that were running down her cheeks as she told the story.
Mrs. Bloom sat down, her face very pale. Neither of them felt hungry. The two of them sat quietly at the table for an hour and a half. Baila and Mrs. Bloom finally rose and went back to the waiting room.
Fifteen minutes later, the nurse came back and said, “Miriam is out of surgery. She might still be asleep, but I can take you to her room.”
Mrs. Bloom thanked the nurse, and then turned to Baila. “Do you want to come with me?”
Baila nodded and wiped her red eyes. They took an elevator to a room where Miriam was lying on a bed. The nurse guided them to the door.
Miriam was just waking up. “Hi Mom,” Miriam said, after looking at her foot that was swathed in bandages.
“How are you feeling Miriam?” Mrs. Bloom asked.
“I’m okay now,” Miriam said, smiling at her mother. Mrs. Bloom was crying happily.
Baila went to school the next day very tired. Shoshana Greenberg was the first to greet Baila. “Mrs. Bloom called Ima last night to tell us that Miriam’s in the hospital. Why is Miriam in the hospital? Did she break her leg? I heard she broke something. I heard that you saw! Wasn’t that scary? What happened?”
All the other girls crowded around Baila to ask her about the accident. Baila re-told the story. “I’m going to bring Miriam her homework after school. Maybe you girls should come.”
They all agreed ,and planned their visit.
Baila told her teachers that she would bring Miriam her homework because she was in the hospital. They all told her that Mrs. Bloom had called them.
When school was over, the group of girls walked together to the hospital. Baila asked for Miriam’s room number; the receptionist gave it to her.
“Come in,” Mrs. Bloom heard the knock.
Thirteen girls filed in and flocked around Miriam bed. Baila set the workbooks on the bedside table and sat on Miriam’s bed.
Chaya and Yehudis remained standing by the door.
Finally, they approached Miriam. “Um, Miriam,” Chaya began awkwardly, “I’m…I’m sorry for judging you without getting to know you and not giving you a warm welcome to our school.”
“Yeah,” Yehudis added, “Really sorry. And we didn’t mean it when we told Baila to stop being friends with you. We just didn’t’t know you.” Chaya nodded silently. “And we’d like to get to know you better. Anyone who will risk their life to save someone they don’t know is someone I’d like to be friends with. Not that I would risk my own life on purpose.”
That ending sentence made all the girls break into joyful laughter together.