Atara’s eyes shone. All of ours did,
type of family so this was a real
“C-c-can you help me find them?”
Israel lurking in the back of our
miracle. Like, the jug of oil in the
She had no idea it was me. She
ly rubbing her pinkie.
minds, imagining clear plastic
Chanukah story kind of miracle.
didn’t even suspect me. I swallowed.
“We’ll work our heads off to
globes stuffed with little goodies
I wish I could have wiped that
Ugh, who needed Hot Tamales and
fundraise!” I thundered. “Maybe we
floating across pizza shop floors.
gleeful smile off my face, but there
Sour Belts anyway? My mother was
should even start fundraising now,
And something was activated in
I was, all smug and satisfied, tearing
probably thrilled they were gone.
our own brainy mechanisms, be-
open the box of Hot Tamales and
“Let’s do a bake sale!”
cause ideas started to form, voices
dividing it between three medicine
“But eighth grade always does a
yelled, fists pumped.
containers. The Sour Belts filled the
h, and it was also my idea.
Only, no one really remembered that. When it was
the best idea I wasn’t so okay with
it, but when it was the worst idea, it
actually turned out that I was very
okay with it, thanks very much.
The best idea and the worst idea
was born on the first day of sixth
grade, in a tight circle at recess time,
the whole lot of us very excited to
be back at school and also very not
excited to be back at school. It was a
time of paradoxes, you see.
We were talking about the sum-
mer and of our very mature sixthgrade status, and then we came to
a collective realization that we’d be
graduating elementary school in
three years’ time.
“We need to raise tons of money,”
Chedva said, her hands moving in
wide and very serious gestures.
“My cousin’s class hardly raised any
money and they ended up going, I
don’t know, kayaking or something
like that, for graduation trip.”
“Kayaking?! Gosh! We need to go
somewhere huge, like even out of
state!” Gila said, thumping her fist
down on the hard linoleum floor.
“Out of state? Let’s go out of
country! Let’s go on a trip to Israel!”
And there we sat, thoughts of
even Gila’s, though she was furious-
Atara’s parents owned a pharma-
“Soon, Rivka. I’m doing homework now,” I said, a little stiffly.
I started on my math sheet, winc-
ing at the sound of the scurrying
cy, so she would supply plastic med-
“Too much work! We need some-
icine containers. Every girl would
gathered our wares. Everyone was
of drawers, cupboards and pantries
thing original! No eighth graders
get a bunch and fill them with little
excited; all 100 containers were
being opened and closed, opened
complaining that we took their ideas
prizes and then we’d set up a fancy
filled with awesome stuff. Stickers,
and their money, and now they
station at recess and sell them for a
hair clips, erasers, little rubber balls,
have to go kayaking!”
quarter. It would be fantastic! It was
and all types of nosh…
The intense conversation was
suddenly interrupted by Tzila,
plopping herself down noisily on
“You people have to hear the
genius! It was foolproof!
At recess the next day we
We stacked the containers in
It was a disaster.
neat rows on a few desks stationed
From Atara’s large canvas bag,
in the hallway. Shani made a big
100 medicine containers were
poster and scotch-taped it to the
footsteps below, the hopeful creak
The first thing I did
when I came home that
night was search for
goodies. I poked around
in cabinets and pantries
and closed. Loud moans of disappointment, cries of frustration.
My heart beat faster. What could
I do, they were already gone.
But still, I tossed in bed that night
to the familiar words of Rivka’s favorite storybook, a little tale about
distributed between the 20 of us.
front of the desks, and all of us hov-
funniest story that happened to me
Oooh, the current of excitement
ered behind it. What can I say; we
yesterday!” Tzila was the kind of
that fizzed out of our classroom
were the attraction of the hallway.
person who interrupted conversa-
door that day was enough to pop,
We quickly learned that we needed
complaining nonstop. I had only
came a shade more invisible. At the
to implement rules. NO looking
one container to fill and I didn’t
end of the story, he saved his fellow
through the containers; you must
want to spend my evening search-
mice from a sly, scheming cat, but
to his horror, he had become com-
tions with words like “you people”
and had enough stories to last an
say, 100 plastic bubbles.
The first thing I did when I came
a mouse who never admitted when
he was wrong, and each time he
failed to admit his misdeed, he be-
entire kayak trip across the Pacific.
home that night was search for
close your eyes and choose. Sari and
ing for something to fill it with, so I
The story, as it so happened, was
goodies. I poked around in cabi-
Hadas hastily cut out little strips
raced up the stairs, escaping Rivka’s
pletely transparent and the mice
could no longer see him.
actually pretty funny. The Hirsh
nets and pantries and drawers.
of paper, hole-punched them once,
kvetches, and bared my teeth as I
family was at the pizza shop when
I searched my room from top to
and gave them out to each girl who
parted with my least favorite key-
day with another 100 medicine
containers to fill. Maybe I was imag-
little boy Hirsh wheedled and
bottom. I’m not the sort of person
returned her medicine container.
chain, a little basketball suspended
begged and finally got a quarter
to have random stuff lying around
Ten hole punches on your strip and
from a chain.
from Mr. Hirsh for a prize from the
and I couldn’t find anything I was
machine at the front of the shop.
willing to part with.
Tzila helped little boy Hirsh feed the
quarter into the slot, and then all
I found myself back in the kitchen, combing through the pantries
Atara arrived at school the next
A few minutes later, there was
ining it, but that sagging canvas bag
pummeling sound on the door and
was greeted with just a wee bit less
the day was over, there were only
half of Rivka’s tear-streaked face
37 full containers left. We had 63
appeared in the slat.
you got a free prize.
By the time the last recess of
We sold the remainder of the
“Devoraaaa,” she wailed, “I can’t
of a sudden, the plastic containers
again. I was debating whether I
newly- emptied ones to fill, and
rolled out one by one through the
could stuff mine with Reese’s Puffs
Atara promised she’d bring another
find my Hot Tamales and Sour
went home with ten containers
to fill. I parted with five more key
prizes that day and later, every girl
hole on the bottom, filling his hands
when a small brown paper bag
hundred plastic containers the next
Belts! I put them in a bag on the
and overflowing onto the floor.
on the top corner caught my eye.
top shelf in the pantry and now it’s
chains, then I had had enough of
gooooone.” Hiccup, sniff, hiccup.
sentimental parting and filled the
Something had been activated in the
I opened it eagerly and stared in
mechanism, the manager said, and
delight at the pack of Hot Tamales
My good mood was wiped away
that night by my sister Rivka.
A little icy wand shot through my
he let them keep a whopping seven-
and two individually wrapped Sour
Something was up with her. She
veins. I blinked. Oh, boy. And I had
teen containers of prizes!
Belts inside. We are not a candy
was crying and kvetching and
been thinking miracles.
remaining five containers with
The phone rang for me six times