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Spring in the Air

“Spring is in the air!” my mother exclaims. She sighs happily and flings open the window.

“Ma!” I shout. I glare at her.

“Oh, right,” she says. She shuts it quickly, but not before I sneeze twice and rub at my red eyes.

I hate spring.

While everyone else is oohing and ahhing over the glorious weather, I’m hatchooing and crying. Or at least I look like I’m crying with these red, teary eyes.

While everyone else is biking and scootering and reading on the porch swing, I’m cooped up in here. And forget about a visit from the gardener. The second that lawnmower goes on, I’m toast.

And so, while everyone else is gloriously cheerful, I’m crabby and irritable.

Which doesn’t make me very popular around here.

I’ve tried just about every medication. I tried allergy shots, but they made me sick. We’re still working on getting this thing under control. So in the meantime, here I am.

Call me Grumplestiltskin.

“All right, everyone!” I hear my mother calling us, but I don’t move from my comfortable place on the couch, where I sit beside a box of Vicks-infused tissues. “Let’s go! It’s too nice to stay indoors on this beauuuuutiful Sunday!”

“Where are we going?” asks Shira in her whiny little sister voice. “I’m tired!”

“I don’t want to go anywhere!” yells Dovi without looking up from the PlayStation.

My mother marches over to the screen and shuts it off.

“Sorry, guys,” she says. “I don’t want you to spend the day on electronics when the sun is shining out there. We are going to the park. You can bring your bikes or rollerblades.”

“My bike?” says Dovi. “Why didn’t you say so? Great!”

He runs out. Shira follows, along with Michal and my father.

My mother looks at me and hesitates. “Sorry,” she says after a pause. “I know this isn’t really fair to you. I just feel like everyone needs to breathe a little fresh air. Do you want to pick an indoor place we can head to in about an hour when we are done?”

“No, it’s ok,” I answer gloomily. “Go and have fun.”

The house is quiet, but it’s not a good quiet. It’s a lonely, frustrated quiet.

I pick up a book, but the words blur. I close my eyes but can’t sleep.

Then the phone rings.

“Hello, Penina? Is that you?”

“No, Bubby,” I say into the receiver. “It’s Rina. Mommy took the kids to the park.”

“Oh, Rina’le, that’s you?”

“Yes, Bubby.”

“Oh, Rina’le. Listen, I am out of milk, and I need a coffee now. Can you please bring me some milk?”

“Bubby,” I say, “Mommy will be home in an hour. Can she bring it then?”

“No, mamale,”  says Bubby. “In one hour Uncle Dovid comes to pick me up for an appointment. But don’t you worry. I will manage without the coffee.”

I sigh. I sit up and push off the cozy throw I’d wrapped around my feet.

“No, no, Bubby,” I say. “I’ll be over in 15 minutes.”

We have the kind of house where there are always at least two extra bottles of milk in the refrigerator, so at least I won’t have to head to the grocery before I walk to Bubby. But that doesn’t make me any more excited about this trip.

The 10-minute walk to Bubby feels like an hour. My head feels dull and heavy, and it is hard to breathe.

“Rina’le!” Bubby exclaims when she opens the door. “Come in, come in. What’s wrong? Were you crying? Are you sick?”

I shake my head. “No Bubby. Just allergies.”

“Oy, vey, the allergies,” she says. “I remember the allergies. Uncle Dovid had them so bad. He couldn’t go out.”

“Right, I don’t spend a lot of time outside,” I say.

“Oh, so why….Oh, my goodness.” Bubby covers her face. “But you came out for me, all the way here. You should have reminded me.”

“No, Bubby,” I protest. “It’s no big deal. I’m happy to bring it.”

Bubby insists on making me a tea, and then she insists that I sit and drink it at her table while she sips her coffee. She chatters away about how Shabbos was with Aunt Mindy and about the appointment she has to see a new apartment on the first floor of a senior living center. She asks about school, about our new neighbors, about my summer camp plans.

Before I know it, 45 minutes have passed and Bubby jumps up from her chair. “Uncle Dovid will be here in a minute! I have to rush! Go, mama’le. Thank you so much. You should be gebentched for schlepping here with your allergies just so I could enjoy a coffee.”

The walk home doesn’t feel quite as long. And despite the murky soup that seems to have filled my brain, I feel something I haven’t felt for a while. I think it’s a twinge of happiness.

It’s been a while, I realize, since I focused on anyone but me. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been so enveloped by this haze that I’ve only emerged to complain.  But now that I pulled myself out of that comfort zone, the world comes into focus.

In my mind’s eye, I can see Bubby’s happy smile as she prepared our drinks.

I look around me now.

All around me trees are blossoming. Flowers are blooming. The sun warms my shoulders, and a slight breeze ruffles my hair.

It is a beautiful day, even if it makes me sick.

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