Recap: Sender travels home on the train at his grandmother’s request. He wonders why she wanted him to come home. He has the plans and photos from the Wright brothers, and he keeps checking to make sure his suitcase is under his seat. He dozes off and wakes with a start when he senses someone leaning over him. The man moves back down the aisle. Later, as he heads home with the precious papers stowed in his suitcase, he wonders if someone is following him.
The next day, I met Danny and we headed to school together.
“How’s it going with your guests?”
“It’s calming down. Thank you so much for the toys and the Pack-and-Play. They were lifesavers. Tori is a one-baby destructo, but he’s confined in the crib, so its manageable. Mickey’s kind of cute. He follows me around.”
“Yeh, I bet you’ll miss him when they leave.”
Danny didn’t bring up the writing club project. He was a good best friend.
We entered the building and he headed to his class. We weren’t in any classes together, except we did have lunch and recess at the same time.
The morning flew by with davening and Gemara. I liked my rebbe this year. Rabbi Kaufman explained things and he asked really thought-provoking questions.
My troubles didn’t start until I stepped into English class, and the first person I glimpsed was that new kid Kalman. I’d almost forgotten about him.
Mr. Rabinowitz stood in front holding up a novel. “Today, we’re going to start this class novel, Moon Song. I have a booklet for you to fill out and I want you to read with partners. You decide if you want to both read silently and discuss and answer the questions, or if you want to take turns reading aloud and then work on the booklet. It’s up to you.”
There were a few groans and then kids were calling out asking to pick their partners.
Mr. Rabinowitz rang his bell. “None of that. I will assign the partners.”
I began davening: Please, Hashem, don’t let me be partnered with that Kalman. Please, anyone but him.
Mr. Rabinowitz called out the names. “Ari Lowenstein and Rafi Buchner. Dovid Klein and Daniel Merkin.” The partners seemed pretty arbitrary. “Ezra Newmark and Kalman Kaufman.”
I felt a sinking feeling inside, like when you drop too quickly in an elevator.
“Please move your desks together and begin.” Mr. Rabinowitz handed out the booklet.
I was still frozen in place when Kalman came and pushed his desk hard into mine. He scowled at me.
I asked Hashem for help and then I said, “Do you want to take turns reading or should we read to ourselves?”
He shrugged and rolled his water bottle in his hands.
“Okay, I guess I’ll read it aloud,” I said. I started reading the book. It was well written and I was pulled right into the story.
After I’d read chapter one, I looked up at Kalman. “Okay, you read.”
Kalman’s book was closed.
“Haven’t you been following?”
He rolled the water bottle on his desk.
“Look, we’re ssssupposed to take turns reading.” I hated my stammer.
He just sat there.
“I’ll show you what we’re up to.” I reached over to open his book, but he snapped it closed on my finger.
In an instant he uncapped the water bottle and poured it all over his desk and the new book. Then he called out in a crying voice, “Mr. Rabinowitz!”
The teacher had been working with two students in the back. He rose and strode over to us. “What seems to be the problem?”
Kalman was shaking with sobs. He pointed at me. “He poured his water bottle all over my desk for no reason!”
My mouth dropped open. How could he say that?
Mr. Rabinowitz frowned at me. “Ezra, I’m surprised. It’s not like you to do something like this. Come with me at once.” He motioned me to follow him out of the room. Then he marched me to the Menahel’s office.
I’d never been sent to the Menahel in all my years in Yeshivah Noam. This was like some kind of nightmare, and I was going to wake up and it would be gone. Only it wasn’t a nightmare and I was really heading to Rabbi Kleiner’s office.
Mr. Rabinowitz led me to the office. He knocked and Rabbi Kleiner opened the door.
“This young man poured water all over another student’s desk and books. He ruined one of the copies of our new class novel.”
Rabbi Kleiner motioned me to come in.
He told me to have a seat. I sat down in a daze.
How could this be happening to me – Ezra Newmark?
Was this how Yosef felt when Potifar’s wife accused him unjustly?
Was I going to be punished for something I hadn’t done?
To be continued…
By Susie Garber