Julia’s Kitchen

Julia’s Kitchen by Brenda A. Ferber Read Free Book Online

Book: Julia’s Kitchen by Brenda A. Ferber Read Free Book Online
Authors: Brenda A. Ferber
wasn’t there to make me go. I could do whatever I wanted.
    So I did. I got right into bed and pulled the covers over my head. The sheets smelled like hotel sheets. Even that was hard. As if it weren’t enough that we’d lost Mom and Janie in the fire, we’d lost most of our things, too. I tried to picture everything that had been in my room: my posters, my glass animal collection, my seashell collection, all my stuffed animals, which Mom had kept asking me to donate to Goodwill, and of course my scrapbooks.
    I might have stayed in bed all day if Marlee hadn’t called.
    â€œMy mom’s driving me to school on her way to work, so we can pick you up,” Marlee said.
    She tried to sound casual, but I saw right through her. Mrs. Rosen never drove Marlee to school. She took the school bus every day.
    â€œWe’ll be out front at 7:55,” Marlee said. “Be ready.”
    Marlee hung up so quickly, she didn’t give me a chance to protest.
    *   *   *
    At Foster Elementary School, the kindergarten-through-third-grade wing was near the front of the building, and the fourth-through-sixth-grade classes were in the back. Marlee and I had to walk right past Janie’s class to get to ours.
    The hall was crowded, but people made a path for us. Everyone stared, and some kids whispered and pointed. Marlee put her arm around my waist and guided me through the mess.
    Miss Woloshin, Janie’s teacher, stood in her doorway. She waved us over as we approached. Marlee and I had both had Miss Woloshin in third grade. She was one of our favorites.
    â€œHow are you, Cara?” she asked, putting her hands on my shoulders.
    I shrugged, trying to be brave.
    â€œCome in for a minute,” she said.
    Kids filed in and got settled at their desks. I saw Justin sitting in the front row. I waved to him, and he gave me a halfway smile. Marlee and I followed Miss Woloshin to the back of her room.
    â€œMy heart is broken, Cara,” Miss Woloshin said in a quiet voice. “I can only imagine how hard this must be for you and your father. If you need anything, anything at all, you come on down to my room. Okay?”
    â€œOkay,” I said.
    Miss Woloshin looked as if she were trying to make up her mind about something. Then she took a shopping bag down from a shelf and handed it to me. “I was going to call your dad to give him Janie’s things, but maybe you’d like to take them. There’s not much. Just her journal, her supplies, her eraser collection.”
    â€œThanks,” I said, hugging the bag to my chest. It smelled like erasers. All of a sudden I realized that’s what Janie had smelled like—erasers.
    The bell rang. “We better get going,” Marlee said.
    The rest of the day dragged. My teacher, Mr. Temby, welcomed me back but didn’t make a big deal out of everything, which was fine with me. I could tell some of the kids in my class were trying hard not to stare at me.
    After lunch the school social worker came into our room. Mrs. Block’s name did not fit her at all. She was so skinny, she should have been named Mrs. Pencil. She usually came to get John Keeler or Colin Shapiro. They were always in trouble.
    She walked over to Mr. Temby and talked quietly to him. Then Mr. Temby called my name and motioned for me to come to his desk. It was so embarrassing.
    â€œCan I borrow you for a few minutes, Cara?” Mrs. Block asked.
    I shrugged. She didn’t seem to be really asking. The next thing I knew, I was following her down the hall.
    Her room was tiny and windowless. I wondered if it had been a closet at one point. Posters of sunflowers covered the walls. Mrs. Block sat behind her desk, and I took the chair opposite her.
    â€œSo, Cara, this is your seventh and last year at Foster, and it’s the first time we’ve met.”
    I shrugged.
    â€œIt’s nice to meet you. I’ve heard good things about you.”

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