Written by: Ita S.

“So who’s your favorite person in the Megillah?” Yonah turned around, startled. It took deep concentration to curl ribbon without shaving off half of your finger, and she was intent on doing it without bloodshed this time.
“That’s your costume?” She snorted in response, raising an eyebrow at her twin, Huvi.
“What’s the matter?” Huvi flung out her arms, which were covered in shimmering blue, satin sleeves. “Hey. You’re never too old to be queen Esther, who is totally my favorite person in the Purim story. Speaking of favorites, you didn’t answer me.”
Yonah turned back to her mishloach manos, which sat on the window ledge. It was crinkly and cute with uncurled ribbon. Sigh.
“I don’t know… Funny question. Mordechai, I guess.”
Huvi adjusted her crown, and then continued prancing around the bedroom under the guise of ‘trying on’ her costume. “Why?”
“Y’know… He was the doer. The guy in charge. The one that actually makes stuff happen. Makin’ the world a better place.”
“Oh yes, of course.” Huvi beamed at her reflection in the dark, rain-splattered window, almost black except for the moon, which was getting thicker. Purim was coming. “Yonah the activist. Out to change the world.”
“Stop it,” Yonah protested, setting down her scissors. She was finally done. “But really. Some people might be okay with sitting around their entire lives, but I’m different. I want to help people, make a difference in their lives.”
Yonah sighed. “That, Queen Esther, I do not know.”
Malka stared out the wet window, sullen. She looked over at the Shalach manos she had prepared. Five little packages, full of candy and a juice box, tied with twist-ties and resentment. No one was going to come, she knew. Who would want to? No one liked Malka, who was short and had ugly hair. That’s what what Riki had said. She had announced in front of everyone how she was definitely not going to Malka’s house on Purim. Also, she had said, when Morah wasn’t listening ‘cuz she was writing Ivrit on the board, Malka’s house smells funny. And Malka had said how do you know, but everyone in grade two was already laughing so they didn’t hear.
Five little packages. Who would she give them to? Who would even come?
There, all done. Yonah looked at her curled ribbons proudly, then at her fingers. Only nicked twice- she was definitely getting the hang of it. She set aside her Mishloach Manos into piles, for friends and teachers.
At the last one, she stopped. She smiled at it, and put it in a pile by itself.
” Malka?” Her mother came into the room, flicking on the light. “You shouldn’t sit in the dark, Malky. Your Morah just called. She said that you didn’t want to be in your classes Purim choir? Why not, baby? You have a great voice.”
Malka’s eyes swelled with tears. “Riki would laugh. Also Shevy. They would say I sound like a donkey.”
“Oh, honey.” Her mother came to sit next to her, while Malka sniffed, and looked at her five little packages.
Purim day. A happy day, for most.
Malka was feeling okay, considering. She had given one package to bubby, one to Chedva who actually came- she came!- to Malka’s house. One to her cousin Ora, and Ora’s baby sister, Leah, who probably sucked the lolly, at least.
One left. The doorbell rang, and Malka ran next to her mother to answer it. She looked up at Yonah and Huvi, her neighbors. They were big girls.
“Hey, Mrs. Green! Hi Malka!” Said Huvi brightly. “I see you’re Queen Esther, like me!”
Malka nodded shyly, and scampered to her room.
“I think she has something for you,” smiled Mrs. Green, adjusting her snood. “Thank you, girls,” she said, a little quieter. “Malka’s going through a rough time at school, and this really mean a lot to her.”
Yonah shrugged, thinking of activists, world peace, and Mordechai, the man who was a doer. Who affected and helped so many people. Made the world a better place.
Malka returned and thrust a colorful package at her twin neighbors. “Thank you,” she breathed, upon receiving a cellophane-wrapped package in return, complete with pink curled ribbon.
“Bye!” Called Yonah as they retreated. “Can’t wait to hear you in the Purim choir!”
Yonah threw open the door, grumpy.
“School is so stupid,” she said, frustrated, to Huvi. “The petition to save the fire station didn’t work! We could’ve helped so many people.”
Huvi shook her head, a smile tugging at the corners of her freckled face. “Yonah the activist.”
“I’m not an activist if I don’t get anywhere! If I can’t help anyone!” She threw her book bag onto her bed, annoyed at everyone.
Next door, Mrs. Green was positively glowing. “Malka, you were amazing!” She clutched the choir list and waved it for emphasis. “I’m so glad you joined! See? Everyone loved you! You were a star!”
Malka grinned, the gap in her front teeth showing. She had seen her mother in the audience, and also Yonah and Huvi. And everyone said she was good! Chedva, and Shevy… Even Riki grudgingly admitted that Malka had a pretty, pretty voice. Malka sat on her bed, hugging her pillow, happier than she’d been in a long time. She looked at the Shalach Manos with the curled ribbon, and smiled. Yonah’s words were ringing in her ears. “Can’t wait to hear you in the Purim choir!”
She had decided, last minute, to join. It had been worth it.
Yonah the activist, indeed. Making the world a better place, one little neighbor at a time.