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Messiah

By Avram Mlotek

Section: Arts

January 25, 2008

ILLUSTRATION BY Sara Simchi-Levi/The HootEditor’s Note: The first installment of this story appeared in the Jan. 18 issue of Diverse City and detailed Khava’s discovery that she possesses special powers that allow her to move objects without touching them.

So I left our apartment. Our poor, old, ugly apartment. I hate that thing, diary! I’m the only girl in my class who lives in this kind of apartment. You’d think we were immigrants still. Four rooms and a kitchen- that’s it! Mommy and Tati’s room. The girls room where I sleep. The boys’ room. The living room. The kitchen. And that’s it, diary, that’s really it. And well, the bathroom.

My father says not to take this for granted. “You know vare ve had to go ven ve had to go, you know!” This was the joke he always made with my brothers. Don’t be so spoiled, we’d be reminded. At least we have a toilet in the house and he’s right. But still, one toilet for ten people! You know how smelly it gets, diary.

I kissed the mezzuzeh and made my way out the apartment building and down the stairs. The sky was bright blue in Crown Heights and surprisingly, there were still kids going to school. They had their moms with them, though. Lucky, I thought.

If I were a boy going to kheyder I’d get my Mama to go with me or my Tati, my father- but I knew that wasn’t even true so I stopped entertaining the idea. After all, my mama and Tati had walked me to kheyder many a time; an eighth grader could go on her own and that was just fact.

I walked quickly down the street, passing the yeshiva that’s right by our house, where my brother’s learn. So lucky, I always think- to get to learn right by the house. Just roll out of bed, sleep late to the very last minute. But you know, that’s not even how they are, my brothers. Early, they’re out of bed- so early- and right off to learn, right next door.

SCREEECH.

“Hey, yo lady, watch where you’re going, will ya!” the cab driver yelled to the mother pushing the carriage.

She parked her carriage- in the middle of the street! There was a baby in there, diary. She put the breaks on and walked right to the cab driver and started cursing at him, in Yiddish.

The cab driver laughed.

“Oh, yeah? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

He put the car in park- he was off-duty, diary- I saw by his lights and was about to walk to the mother, to do something- I don’t know- but they were not going to have a friendly conversation. I just knew it.

And then it happened again. I’m not sure the sequence of events. But I thought this, diary: Let the mother go back to pushing her baby and let the cab driver just go right back into his car. And they did- like that. I looked at the scene, unsure if it had just happened. Maybe they chose to do that, I thought to myself.

So I had to make sure, you see. The mother should smile to the cab driver. Let the cab driver say, thank you and smile back. And diary, they did. They did smile and wave to each other. I’m getting so excited just writing about it.

I passed the shops, the butchers, that wonderful bakery, the candy store, the streets I’m not supposed to go down, and ten, I don’t know, fifty minutes later I got to my yeshiva. My all-girls yeshiva and sat down in Khumash, bible class.

No one really noticed me come in late, except for. You got it, diary. Khaya. The girls were in khevrusa, partners, looking over the parsha, the weekly Torah portion. Khaya, my khevrusa, was studying by herself. She was so happy to see me come in, diary. I love Khaya.

“Where’ve you been, Khava?” she asked me.

“Khaya, remember. I want to be called Eve.”

“Will you give it a break, Khava. Remember who you are again. Khava not Eve. You’ve been reading again, right?”

“Khaya, you’re never going to believe me,” I said excitingly.

“Probably not.”

“Right. So, then check this out. Morah Shneider” –that’s our teacher, diary—“she’s going to turn around from the blackboard in a moment and say to the class, ‘Girls, enough Torah. Would you like to take a dance break?’”

Khaya laughed. The girls nearby looked around at us, giving nasty looks.

“Khaya!” I said.

“You’re crazy, Khava. Never in a million years is-“

“Girls,” Morah Shneider said, turning around from the notes she was writing on the board, “Enough Torah. Would you like to take a dance break?”

Khaya looked at me. The other girls in the class looked at each other, not knowing what had happened to their stern, their mean—she was mean sometimes, diary—teacher.

I raised my hand.

“Morah, let’s dance the Macarena,” I said.

The girls in the class gasped. And they whispered.

“What’s going on?”

“There Khava goes again.”

“She’ll get it this time.”

“Apikores.” Disbeliever.

But suddenly, my world, my little game I had been creating- it stopped.

“Khava Bloom, how dare you. You come into class late and then talk such nonsense in front of the rest of the girls. How dare you! Go to Reb Yissy’s office. Immediately!”

I looked at Khaya quickly and walked out. I didn’t understand, diary. A minute ago, she was fine, under my control, but then suddenly- not- totally gone. Just like that. I walked out into the hallway.

Our yeshiva was just one big hallway- for about three hundred girls, you know- our special middle school. And our class was all the way on one end—the eighth graders had that privilege. And all the way on the other side was the entrance to the yeshiva, the office, and Reb Yissy’s office, our principal. So I began to walk.

Editor’s Note: The final installment of Messiah will be printed in next week’s issue.

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