All We Have Left

All We Have Left by Wendy Mills

Book: All We Have Left by Wendy Mills Read Free Book Online
Authors: Wendy Mills
about this NYU program. My drawing means so much to me. This isn’t one of my crazy impulses, and I really think it’s what I want to do. I hope that you will change your mind and give me your blessing.
    It sounds good. Hopefully he won’t notice that I should be in school. Somehow I thought wearing the scarf would make me feel grown up, strong, like Lia, but so far all I feel is young and silly.
    Inside my dad’s office, I thank the receptionist for telling the security guy downstairs to let me up, and she smiles and gestures for me to go on back. It’s not yet nine, and there are a lot of empty cubicles, but my father always gets there before everyone else to run reports from the day before.
    But when I get to his desk, he’s not there. His computer is on, the tiny fan clipped to the side of it running, and there are stacks of paperwork and a few diskettes lined up neatly with my father’s slanted handwriting on the labels.But no Ayah. I wait for a couple of minutes, nodding at people as they pass me, staring through an office door out the windows at a thin slice of blue sky. I asked Ayah once why the windows were so narrow, and he told me that he’d heard the towers were designed by an architect who was scared of heights, which made me laugh.
    I tap my foot. Where the heck is Ayah?
    I know sometimes he will go upstairs to pray with some of the restaurant staff from Windows on the World when he doesn’t have time to go to the other tower to the prayer room. He told me that they spread tablecloths and use flattened cardboard boxes as prayer mats on the stairwell landing. But he’s already prayed the morning prayer, and it’s not time for the noon prayer, so that can’t be it.
    “Alia?” Mr. Morowitz says. “Is that you?” He’s holding a cup of coffee in one hand and a bagel smeared with cream cheese in the other.
    Mr. Morowitz is big and puffy, and always reminds me of a balloon in his tight suit, but he’s really nice. He’s often part of the group my parents invite to the apartment to eat dinner. They always end up talking about religion, and the world, and how we all fit into it. My parents don’t believe in sheltering me from other religions, and I’ve been to synagogue with Mr. Morowitz’s family, and church services with our Christian friends.
    I wonder for a moment why he isn’t sure it’s me, and then I remember the scarf. Do I look that different with it on?
    “Hi, Mr. Morowitz,” I say. “Do you know where my father is?”
    “You just missed him, honey,” he says with his mouth full, a smudge of cream cheese on his chin. “He was in earlier, but he left to go vote, and then he’s got a training seminar across town. Bagel?” He offers me an American Café bag. “They’re kosher, halal, for you.”
    I shake my head. “No, thank you.”
    What am I going to do now? I’d felt so sure that this was the right thing to do. Now, the next time I see my father will be when we all meet in Ms. Julio’s office, and I can’t imagine that he will be in the mood to sign my permission slip after that meeting.
    “Alia?” Mr. Morowitz is saying. “Are you okay?”
    I focus on his kind, concerned face. “Uh, sure. I’m fine,” I say, and smile reassuringly.
    He blinks, and then smiles back. “If I see him, do you want me to give him a message?”
    “No,” I say. “I’ll talk to him later.”
    I check the clock on my father’s desk and see that I’m going to be late as heck for school, and I don’t have a thing to show for it.

Chapter Fourteen
    The pep rally is in full swing, pumped-up teenagers screaming and yelling at the cheerleaders who are doing a dance that honestly looks like they should have some sort of pole to go with their shake.
    “She was putting them up earlier,” Dave is saying. “You wouldn’t believe this crap …”
    I can’t really hear what Dave and Nick are talking about, though I’m sitting on the bleacher row just below them, leaning back between

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