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The Summer of Hope

By @Glitter_Girl08

Chapter 2

A month later, I walked around the groups sitting on the grass, three girls doing cartwheels, and some of the boys playing football, to the table where my friends were already sitting.

“Hey,” I greeted them. It was recess, we were sitting at one of the picnic tables outside.

“You know what we need? A name people can call us. Like. ‘OMG, look at the Lex Squad, they’re so cool,’ or something like that. Ya know?” Alexis sat down.

“Yeah that’s a great idea, besides the Lex part.” I agreed, putting my hair into a bun, and slipping my legs into a split. I saw Alexis clench her teeth and slip into her split when she saw me. 

“So. Any ideas?” Matt asked.

“What about Leo and his Lions?” Leo suggested, and everyone booed. 

“How about this. No one’s name can be a part of it, unless everyone’s name is a part of it,” Everyone agreed with me. Others suggested things, but the rest of the group didn’t like the idea. 

“What about The MASE. The Most Awesome Squad Ever?” I asked.

“Love it.” Trevor high fived me and I smiled. 

“Same,” Steph agreed, nodding and smiling.

“Me too,” Leo smiled.

“Me three,” Matt.

“Fine. Same.” Alexis rolled her eyes, and the rest of us smiled. 

************

I’d been working out at the gym for seven weeks already when I wiped the sweat from the back of my neck, and my hair whipped around my arms as I redid my high ponytail for the hundredth time with my favorite, lucky, dark purple ponytail. I had just nailed my double twist on trampoline, and I was very proud of it. When I got back to where my team was waiting, they all high-fived me and I twirled, my light purple leotard (leo), shimmering as I spun. 

I sat back down and glanced behind me where Alexis’s team was training on the beam. She saw me staring and glared. I’m not going to lie, Alexis was good. I had watched her, and she knew what she was doing, I mean, she could do a back tuck off beam, which took me forever to master. It took me a whole year to do it without falling on my neck.

A girl on my team saw me staring at Alexis.“Hey, that girl, Alexis, she thinks she’s better than us. Stay away from her, she’s really mean and stuck up,” A blond girl with hazel eyes wearing a blue sparkly leotard–I think she said her name was Mary–nodded in Alexis’s direction and made a face.

“Yeah. One day, after practice, she came up to us and said, ‘You guys aren’t even that good. Idk why I’m not level seven. I’m so much better than you guys.’ she actually said ‘idk’! Isn’t that ridiculous? I’m so glad I don’t go to school with her,” Another girl, Hailey, in a bright pink leo smirked. 

“Idk?” I asked.

“Oh, sorry. It means I don’t know but people use it in texting to abbreviate, and I agree with Hailey. I’m so glad I go to a different school than her,” Mary confirmed, sounding genuinely sorry, and not like she was making fun of me. 

“One time, she filled my shoes with shaving cream during practice,” A gymnast (Malia I think?) in a purple and white leo rolled her eyes. “Jerk.”

“Is she really that bad?” I didn’t want to be friends with Alexis if she was so mean to these girls, who even though I barely knew them yet, seemed really nice, and amazing people to be friends with.

“Yes,” The three girls plus the other three girls on my team who weren’t in on the conversation all answered at once.

“Nay, come on, it’s your turn, let’s go. Legs straight, toes pointed, go!” My new coach, Coach Ally, yelled, and brought me back to the gym. I liked that she called me Nay. It felt like I really belonged in that gym. One more look at my team, and I sprinted and again nailed my double twist. 

************

The next day at school, I figured I would ask Steph, Trevor, Matt, and Leo if they wanted to come to my house after school. Even Alexis if she wanted. I had already asked Imma, and she had okayed it. I was really excited, but at the same time, my heart was beating a million miles a minute. Alexis walked to our lunch table, her hair wrapping around her shoulders as she flipped it with her perfectly manicured pink hands. 

“Do you guys want to come over to my house after school?” I asked once everyone sat down.

“Sure!” Steph and Leo answered at once, and then fist bumped.

“Why not?” Matt took a bite out of his pasta bolognese. 

“I’d love to!” Trevor chugged down his “lemonade” that looked more like water than lemonade. 

“Fine.” Alexis said like she actually wanted to come, but didn’t want to make a big deal about it.

“Great!” I said and crunched on my salad. Eww. After taking a bite, I stared at my green salad. The tomatoes looked wrinkly, the cucumbers watery, the peppers soggy, and the lettuce did not seem fresh. I twisted my face.

“Yeah, I know, school food sucks. Get used to it,” Alexis smirked. I sighed. I was already sick of Alexis, and without asking, I knew that the gym girls were right. She was mean, and obnoxious, but now I didn’t know how I was going to stop hanging out with her. I liked her friends and I didn’t want to be on Alexis’s bad side. She seemed like the kind of person you wanted to stay friends with, unless you’ve never been friends with her. At my old school, there was this girl, Eden, who thought she was the best person in the world, but was actually super mean. 

************

Later, in the parking lot after school, Steph and I were talking about a math project our teacher was making us do, when Trevor, Matt, and Leo jogged up to us, Alexis texting furiously behind them. 

“Hey guys!” Matt said, out of breath.

“Hey,” Steph said, suddenly shy. I realized she had always been quieter when Matt was with us.

“Sup, y’all!” Leo came up to me and fist bumped me.

“Okay. My mom’s here!” Everyone followed me to my mom’s car, a blue minivan. We slid into the car, and my mom made us all sit in the back. Alexis, Matt, and Trevor sit in the middle, and Steph, Leo, and I sit in the way back. Ziv, Ellie, and Tzvi were at a friend’s houses, and Noah sat in the car seat in the front seat. 

“Hello Mrs. Mizrah!” Steph said when she slid in the back next to me.

“It’s Stephanie, right? Please, call me Adele. Naim Meod. Nice to meet you.” I winced at her thick Israeli accent and her Hebrew. 

“Good afternoon, Adele,” Alexis said politely, and Matt and Leo followed.

“Hey, Mrs. M. I can call you that, right? Mrs. M?” Trevor asked, and I blushed, anticipating Imma’s reaction. 

To my suprise, Imma smiled and looked pleased, “Of course!” Imma added, “Forgive me if I make mistakes in my English. It is not so easy learning a big new language, you know.” Trevor, Leo, Matt, and Steph nodded, as if understanding. Alexis just rolled her eyes towards the window so Imma wouldn’t see, but I saw, and glared at her. Unfortunately, she didn’t see me, and if she did, she ignored me. 

Finally, we arrived at our apartment building. “Naomi, I’m going to take Noah to the playground. We should be back by five. You know the rules. Love you,” Imma left again. 

“Your mom is so nice. My parents are never home. And when they are, they don’t exactly take us to the park or let us call them Mrs. and Mr. S,” Steph whispered to me and I squeezed her hand. 

My friends followed me to my bedroom. I looked at my room how my friends must be seeing it. Twin bed in the corner with pink and green tie-dye sheets and duvet that I’ve had since I was seven, that we brought from Israel. The other twin bed across the room with the same sheets and blanket that Ziv sleeps on. 

The single shaggy, dark brown stuffed animal puppy that I got when I was a baby, on Ziv’s bed since the night before we slept together so that Ellie could sleep in my bed; I usually sleep by myself, and Ziv and Ellie sleep together, but Ellie was kicking too much, so I slept with Ziv. 

The table I use for a desk, and the new black hang-around-chair thing in the other corner. There were no photos on the walls, just three quotes about gymnastics. The first one said, I Don’t Call Them Sacrifices, I Call Them Exchanges (Shawn Johnson), the second said, What Seems Impossible Today, Will Be Your Warm-Up Tomorrow. The last one said, The Hard Days Are What Make You Stronger. My sister’s also put up quotes. Ellie’s said, Rise Above The Storm And You Will Get Sunshine, and Ziv’s said, Change The World By Being Yourself. On the floor, there was Ellie’s American Girl Doll, and Ziv’s lucky basketball. Each of us was allowed to take one toy from Israel (there wasn’t enough for more), Ellie took her doll, me my stuffed animal dog, Ziv her basketball, Noah his blanket, and Tzvi his two favorite hot wheels cars, since they were small. 

“Wow.” Alexis said, speechless, and I could tell from her face that it was not the good kind of “wow.”

“I know how it looks. But trust me, my parents go apartment looking everyday, and they are sure to find a much better one soon. My cousins had this apartment, and lent it to us for the time being,” None of that was true. In Israel, we had a huge, beautiful house, but when we got to America, it was kind of like all of our money vanished. My cousins are still in Israel, with the rest of my family. My aunt stopped talking to my abba when he told her we were moving to America. Imma’s family was pretty supportive, and the rest of Abba’s was too. Doda Shira (Aunt Shira) wasn’t though. I think she just didn’t want him to leave. 

Abba said it would be better. That he could find a better job. In Israel, he was a police officer, and didn’t really get paid, but Imma was a rabbi and got paid more. He said police officers got paid more in America, but I don’t really know if that’s true, because we were rich in Israel, and we’re poor here. Imma isn’t working, she says since we don’t have a babysitter here, she needs to take care of my siblings. I keep telling her to get a job, but she won’t listen. “Al tidag, Naomi, don’t worry,” she keeps telling me. 

Anyways, I had to lie to my friends, because they might not be friends with me if they knew I was not completely rich. And even though I’m not a huge fan of Alexis, I really like Trevor, Matt, Leo, and Steph. 

“So, what do you guys want to do?” I asked. 

“I don’t know. Do you want to watch a movie?” Steph suggested. I think about that for a second. There is no way my mother would let me watch a movie with my friends on a weekday. No way. But… she was at the park with Noah, and she wouldn’t be back until five. It was 3:45 now. My friends were leaving at 4:30, so we had forty five minutes. They could only stay an hour, because I have gymnastics at 5:15. How would she ever know?

“Sure. What do you want to watch?” I walked into the living room, and grabbed the remote. The MASE followed me. 

“Have you seen To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before? I love that movie,” Alexis said as I flipped through the movies on Netflix. 

“Yup,” The boys said and Steph nodded. I hadn’t, but I nodded too.

“OMG. Peter Kavinski is the bomb, am I right!?” Leo pumped his fist in the air, and Steph rolled her eyes. Matt and Trevor laughed. 

“I’m team Josh!” Matt said, and Trevor disagreed, but then Matt changed the subject.  

“Let’s watch Home Alone!” Matt proposed, and we all agreed. Leo sat in one of the chairs, and Matt sat in the other. Alexis, Steph, and Trevor sat on the couch, and I sat on pillows on the floor, facing the TV. 

Matt’s mom came to pick him up first. She thanked me for inviting him, and they left. Steph and Trevor’s older brother Cody came next. Cody came with Jake, Leo’s brother. Finally, it was just me and Alexis, but soon her sister came to pick her up, and I was alone.

“Bring!!” I glanced at my iPad. Maya!

“Hey My My!” I asked when I picked up. 

“Hey Nomi! How’s the States?” Maya asked when the call connected.  

“Good. I miss you guys though!” I said truthfully.  

“So. Are you coming back to Israel this summer? I know it’s seven months away, but still!” Maya bounced in her seat.

“Of course!” I exclaimed, and changed the subject.

“‘Of course’ what?” Imma asked, walking into the room.

“Of course we’re going to Israel for the summer!” I told her, my eyes not leaving the screen. 

“Umm. Metuka, sweetie-” Imma sat down across from where I was sitting on the couch. I told Maya I’d call her back later, and I hung up.  

Ma?” What? 

“Umm. Okay. So your abba and I wanted to tell you, Ziv, Tzvi, Ellie, and Noah together, but I realize that that is probably not going to happen. I also wanted to tell you closer towards summer, but here we are-” Imma explained, fidgeting with her earrings.

Ma?!” I repeated, starting to freak out and get super worried.

“We are not going back to Israel this summer. We’re staying in NYC. Slicha, I’m so sorry,” Imma flinched, as though she was scared I was going to throw a pillow at her or something. I stood up. Her words repeated in my head. Not going back to Israel. Not going back to Israel.

“Okay. I’m going to call Maya and Nava and tell them,” I said in shock, took my iPad, and walked to my room. 

“Ma?” Nava asked when she picked up.

Shalom Nava. I’m not going back to Israel this summer!” I blurted out, and Maya just stared at me. Nava shook her head.

“Ma zot omeret?!” Nava asked, looking like she was going to cry.

“What do I mean? I mean my imma said that we aren’t going this summer,” I said.

“Llama??” Maya asked quietly.

“I don’t know. That’s just what she said!” I told them, and glanced at the clock on the wall, “I have to go. I have to go to gymnastics in five minutes. Shalom.” I hung up, but stared at the screen. 

“Naomi! Gym time!” Imma called, and I grabbed my gymnastics bag from where it was sitting on the floor. 

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