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The Bakery in the Back Lane, Part 2
After finishing my homework, I went out to check out the city. As a little seven-year-old, I wasn’t allowed to leave the back lane; but as a little seven-year-old, I thought this was a world of adventure. Since all the scary kids were now inside the stores, I was free to roam the back lane, my kingdom. I was Queen Chana, Queen Hannah in America, and I was ruler of the Back Lane Kingdom. All pieces of gum and pebbles bowed down to me. And there was my parade- a lone beat-up ‘30s style Volkswagen rattling down the road. I skipped past Super Cuts to the vacant lot behind it.
In the lot, I pulled a piece of chalk I’d found on the school playground out of my pocket and drew my red carpet- pink, really, since that was the color of the chalk. Then I arranged twigs and leaves around the hole- infested stump that was my throne.
“Rocks!” I said aloud to the rocks scattered on the lot. “What is the ruling of my court hayom?”
The rocks replied that the court was doing pretty well, and they had ruled that everyone in Queen Chana’s kingdom got a free cupcake.
“Well, that is a GREAT idea,” I said. “You are very smart.”
The rocks said thank you.
“You’re very welcome, rocks. And now-”
Suddenly there was a gale of laughter behind me. I turned around. There was a crowd of fifth grade girls and sixth grade boys around me, laughing hysterically.
“Rocks!” said the one with the long blond curls. “She was talking to the, like, rocks!”
“Oh my G-d!” said a boy with a Yankees jersey. “She said hayom! What does that mean?”
He high-fived his friends, who all cheered.
My face burned, and I grabbed the edging on my throne and threw it at them. “Leave me ALONE!” I shouted. “Go away!”
They ducked away from the flying leaves and twigs, still laughing. One of the older boys came over to me and picked me up, taking me over to his friends. I screamed and beat his shoulders as hard as I could with my fists, like my dad had taught me. He yelped and let go of me. I landed on my feet on the pavement, and kicked his shins for good measure. Then I ran back to the bakery, making the chimes go wild.
All the customers looked up, but then looked back down when they saw it was just me. Chaim looked mad, and Jeannie looked a little annoyed.
“Hannah, please be careful,” she said. Then she saw how scared I looked. “Are you OK?”
I ran over to Jeannie crying. “There… there were big mean girls and boys,” I said, letting out a tear, “and one of them tried to pick me up. But I kicked him just like Aba taught me. I did.”
Jeannie smoothed my hair. “I’ll get your mommy, Hannah, okay?”
I nodded, sniffling.
Chaim walked over. “Who was that who tried to pick you up?” he asked. “Someone with a Yankees shirt?”
“His friend,” I sniffed. “The big one, with the gold chains.”
Chaim looked really, REALLY mad now.
The next day at school, Merry, the most popular girl in class, came up to me with her two friends, Jill and Darcy, before school started. She had a big smile on like she always did, and Jill and Darcy were scowling like they always were.
“Ha-eye, Hannah!” Merry greeted me cheerfully. “You doing cool?”
“Um. Yes?” I said, wondering what to say.
“That’s guh-rate!” Merry said. “Oh, by the way, I heard you beat up Jamie Fuller yesterday.”
I wasn’t sure how to reply, so I nodded.
“Hey, that is, like, SO cool!” she said. “Isn’t it, Jill? Darcy?”
“Totally,” Jill and Darcy answered simultaneously.
“Jamie Fuller is, like, totally the MEANEST guy in, like, the ska-yool. You are, like, so AWESOME for, like, beating him. So anyway, do you wanna join us for, like, lunch?”
Merry, Jill, and Darcy’s lunch ‘table’ was the corner of our class’s lunch table that was closest to the vending machines. There was a little clearing around them, and whatever girl they invited to sit with them- who, today, was me.
“So,” Jill asked. “What did it feel like to beat up Jamie Fuller?”
“Do you like Hilary Duff?” Darcy wanted to know.
“Do you have a Livestrong bracelet? They’re SOOO cool.”
“I think… at home, maybe.”
“What about a GameBoy? They’re really GameGirls.”
“Did you ever try on lip gloss? I’m wearing my older sister’s.”
“Do you want a Cheeto?”
“What do you think of Mina? She’s a nerd, isn’t she?”
“What do you do after school?”
Finally, a question I could answer confidently! “I go to the bakery my mom works at,” I said. “In the back lane.”
Merry gasped. “Oh my G-d! With all the high school kids! Do you like any of them?”
“I know!” Merry said. “Why don’t we all go hang out at your mom’s bakery today? I bet we could spy on some high school guys.”
Jill and Darcy, and a couple of girls who were eavesdropping on us, giggled like this was the funniest thing they had ever heard.
“Sounds good,” I said. Even though I didn’t know what they were talking about, I was glad to have some friends.
Jamie Fuller, the guy with the big gold chains, looked at me intimidatingly when Chaim and I passed past the deli, but then he saw Merry, Jill and Darcy, and looked away to talk to his friends again.
The chimes on the door clanged as the five of us entered the bakery. Chaim sat at the window, trying not to be affected by the girly-ness surrounding him. The artificial-lavender-scented perfume Merry and her friends were wearing messed up the scent of cloves and jasmine.