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“Lo, Imma, Bevakasha? Please?” I tried to convince Imma to let me walk myself and my siblings to school. I followed her as she walked around the apartment, getting ready.
“Fine. It’s your first day. Do whatever you want. But make sure you introduce yourself to Ziv, Tzvi, and Ellie’s teachers. Ken?” My mother confirmed, handing Ellie to me while clipping in her earrings with one hand, packing Tzvi’s bag with the other, and slipping on her favorite pair of black high heels. Our house was chaos. We had been here for months, but boxes were still on the floor, and our things were scattered around.
“Ken. Toda Imma!” I thanked her, and dragged my siblings out the door. I’m starting sixth grade today, Ziv is starting second, Tzvi Kindergarten, and Ellie Pre-K. My brother Noah is still only a year old, so he is staying home with Imma. Abba left early this morning for a job interview at the police station.
Our new apartment is only a few blocks from our new school, so we walked. Well more like ran, since Ziv chased Tzvi and Ellie, and I was trying to keep up with them. The cars honked their horns as we raced across the street, and a guy in one of the cars yelled at us, but we ignored him. The smell of churros wafted from the carts as we sprinted past, and I breathed in before catching up with Ziv.
When we reached the school, kids of all ages flooded off the buses, and into the building. Everyone was chatting and high-fiving their friends. I made Ziv and Tzvi come to Ellie’s classroom with me, and like Imma wanted, I introduced myself to her teacher, Mr. Jackson. Ellie’s teacher was really nice; he said that she will make a lot of friends, and that he will make sure Pre-K is fun for her. I left with Ziv and Tzvi, and the three of us headed to Tzvi’s classroom. His teacher was not as kind.
“Hello. I am Mrs. Sanchez. It’s alright today, since it is the first day, but I don’t want you dropping off your brother anymore. He should come up by himself,” Mrs Sanchez snapped. I nodded, surprised, and left the classroom quickly.
“Naomi, can I go to my classroom alone?” Ziv asked, and I watched her go into her classroom without me. Finally, I took a deep breath, and found the locker with my name on it. I opened the blue locker, and put my black backpack with stars on it, filled with a dark purple water bottle, Anne Frank’s Diary, in Hebrew (I’m not THAT good at English yet), my favorite gel pens, and a pencil case that matched my backpack. I took out everything and closed my locker. It didn’t look like anyone else was putting locks on their lockers, which was good, because I didn’t have a lock.
I lined up behind the door, in front of a short girl wearing super short jean shorts and a dark blue t-shirt and behind a boy wearing sports shorts and a Nike shirt. The girls’ hair were all in high ponytails, down, or braids-my light brown hair was down. I looked down at my outfit; medium long black skirt and purple t-shirt, different, but at least no one was staring.
Kids of all ages were whispering and talking to their friends, so all together, it ended up being really loud until a teacher walked by. Then everyone would be silent until they left. We filed into the classroom, and on the board in the front of the room was a diagram that matched the room, and each desk had a name on it on the board, so we could find which desk we were assigned to. I sat down at my desk near the window, and also on the board it said to talk with our classmates and get to know each other, so I sat and waited for the rest of the class to come in.
“Hey. You’re Naomi right? I’m Trevor,” A pale boy with blond hair and blue eyes wearing black jeans and a Adidas t-shirt came over and put his hand up in a fist. I fist-bumped him.
“So. Do you speak English or…” He trailed off.
“I speak English.”
“Cool. Hey Steph, Leo, Matt, Lex, come over here and meet the new girl.” Trevor called over his friends, and they came over, following “Lex.” Steph was blond, with blue eyes and looked a lot like Trevor, but was wearing blue shorts and a black t-shirt. Leo and Matt were both wearing gray Under Armor shirts and matching shorts. Lex was wearing a super short skirt (much shorter than mine and nothing Imma would ever let me wear) and a periwinkle shirt.
“I’m Alexis. So. Where are you from?” Alexis asked.
“Israel. Tel Aviv actually,” I answered, remembering my school there and missing Maya and Nava, my best friends from home.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Israel, but, welcome to New York,” Trevor joked, singing the end and quoting the Taylor Swift song.
“Cool. So I guess Trevor must think you’re, like cool, because he actually came up to you and talked to you,” Alexis told me, ignoring Trevor, and I shrugged.
“Basically, Trev and Steph are twins, Leo plays basketball, and Matt plays soccer. I do gymnastics. Got it?” I perked up when she said she does gymnastics.
“You do gymnastics?” I confirmed.
“Didn’t I just say that?” Alexis glanced at the rest of the group.
“I do gymnastics too!” I told her. I played with my hair when she laughed.
“Yes, but are you any good? I’m the best on my team.” She smirked.
“Where do you do gymnastics?” I ignored her comment.
“Elite. Upper west.”
“I’m starting there on team next week! What level are you?” I exclaimed.
“Six.” She bragged.
“Are you level four?” She teased.
“No, I’m level seven. Sorry.” I was genuine when I said this. It would be fun to know someone on the team already.
“Ughh!!!” Alexis stormed off, Matt and Leo following her. I don’t get it. If we’re friends, like she kind of implied, then shouldn’t she be happy for me? Also, I’m really starting to not like Alexis. She seemed kind of mean.
“Sorry about her. She hates it, and I mean really hates it, when people are better than her at something, which is rare, but it happens.” Trevor said.
“Yeah, she can be annoying. But at least we’re at your table!” Steph tried to cheer me up and I smiled.
“You’re right. I-” The teacher interrupted me and started the day.
“Good morning 6S. My name is Margaret, I hope you all had wonderful summers, and I’m excited to start the year with you. We have a new student in our class this year. Naomi, would you like to tell us three things about yourself?” Margaret asked. This year we call our teachers by their first names I guess. I wonder why my siblings didn’t.
I nodded and stood up. “Umm. Okay. Well, I moved here from Tel Aviv, Israel two weeks ago, umm. I have two brothers, and two sisters, they are one, four, five, and seven. And the third thing is… oh! I really love gymnastics. I was on a team in Israel with my best friends. I love it so much,” I sat down, and saw Alexis glaring at me. What’s her problem? Everyone started whispering, and didn’t even calm down when Margaret started talking again. I felt the smooth wooden desks under my fingers.
“Thank you for sharing, Naomi. Now, I have some announcements, one: This year you are all able to walk to your classes without a teacher. Congratulations. Two: I have everyone’s birthdays on the wall in the back next to the half groups. Three: here are the half groups: purple group is Sophie, Nathan, Trevor, Leo, Stephanie, Matt, Alexis, Hannah, Axel, Valentina, and Naomi. Yellow group is Melanie, Dona, Maxine, Hillary, Ollie, Ben, Nelly, Wess, Livia, William. Time for art. Everyone please line up and walk silently downstairs,” Margaret instructed us, and we left the classroom. Everyone started talking as soon as we got out of Margaret’s sight, and our line formed into a clump.
I was talking to Steph about my siblings, when a hand reached out from the girls bathroom and pulled me inside. Steph followed.
“What?” I asked when I realized the person who pulled me in the bathroom was my sister, Ziv.
“Atah beseder Ziv? What happened?” My voice softened when I saw that Ziv had been crying. Ziv glanced at Steph, and I nodded to tell her that she can trust her.
“There’s this girl” -sniffle- “in my class” -sniffle- “and she said that I should go back to where I come from,” Ziv sobbed.
“Oh-” I started.
“Umm. Hold on, I don’t know how school worked in Tel Aviv, but if we don’t get to class we will be in big trouble,” Steph reached over to rub Ziv’s back.
At that moment, a lady wearing a tight black dress and high heels walked into the bathroom. I slid up onto the cool, black marble counter.
“Ms. Haddad, I’m” -sniffle- “sorry, I-”
“Hey, it’s okay. I was just coming in to make sure you were okay. I sent Brianna and Makayla to Mr. Mitchell’s office.” Mr. Mitchell is the school’s principal. When Ms. Haddad turned around, I squealed, and Steph glared at me. I gave her a look that I hoped said, Sorry, but wow I can’t believe it’s her! Steph probably had no idea what I was talking about.
“Maaman Ayala! Coach Ayala? Is that really you?” I said, amazed. Steph and Ziv both stared at me like I was crazy.
“Wow! Nomi! When did you get here?” When Mamaan Ayala called me by my home nickname, I cringed, missing Tel Aviv terribly.
“Only a few weeks ago,” we started catching up quickly in Hebrew. When I realized we were not alone in the bathroom, I added, “Ayala was my gymnastics coach until she moved here three months ago. Ayala, Ziv is my sister, and Steph is my-” I paused, looking for the right word.
“Friend.” Steph said, and grinned. I grinned back, relieved.
“So was Naomi good at gymnastics? She told us she was good,” Steph asked.
“Yes. She was amazing,” Ziv and Ayala both answer at once, and then we all laugh.
“We should go. We’re missing art right now, Mrs. Scott is going to be so mad,” Steph said.
“Oh no! We’re going to be in so much trouble. And it’s my first day! Imma is going to be so mad,” I ran my hand through my smooth hair.
“It’s okay, I’ll come with you and Ziv can come too. I’ll talk to Mrs. Scott for you too. Let’s go,” We followed Ayala-I guess I should call her Ms. Haddad now-to the art room.
When we opened the door to the art room, Mrs. Scott scowled deeply at us.
“You’re late. And you”-she pointed to Ziv- “are not in my class.”
“Molly, calm down. These girls were with me, and I am Ziv’s teacher. Or I can take this to Mr. Mitchell.” By now the entire class, who was working, stared at us.
“Fine. Have a good day Ayala, Ziv. Girls, you two go draw in your sketchbooks, it is only the first day, so we are not starting a project yet.” Ms. Haddad and Ziv left, Mrs. Scott went to look at people’s drawings, and Steph and I found our sketchbooks and walked over to where Alexis, Leo, Trevor, and Matt were sitting.
“What happened? Where were you?” Alexis asked, looking up from her drawings.
“Are you okay?” Trevor said at the same time.
“Are you guys in trouble?” Matt asked after a second. Leo stayed silent.
“Yeah we’re fine, and we were talking to my sister’s mor-teacher,” I scolded myself for almost saying moreh, the Hebrew word for teacher. Steph nodded when Alexis looked at her to make sure I wasn’t lying.
Everyone nodded, and returned to their work.
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