abriella had been spending so much time in recent weeks in the editing suite of her old film school that treading the school’s halls no longer felt like a surreal trip back in time. Still, knocking on Doug’s office right now, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d felt this nervous to be here — probably on the day of her interview to get into the school.

She was about to throw it all away.

Doug was sitting at his desk, brow furrowed as he hunched over his computer screen, but he sat up when he saw her. “Gabriella! What are you doing here? I thought you finished all the editing.”

She sat down in the chair across from him and clutched the arm rests. “I needed to talk to you about the documentary and I thought it best to speak in person.”

He looked at her expectantly. She took a deep breath. “I’ve decided to withdraw from the festival.”

Doug’s face instantly hardened. “Excuse me?”

“I… Remember we spoke a few weeks ago about my discomfort with using some of the interviews? Well, after thinking about it some more, I came to the conclusion that I can’t, in good conscience, air those interviews publicly.”

She’d practiced this line over and over last night, after coming home from her outing with Huvy. She didn’t know which was harder — making the decision to withdraw, or informing Doug about it.

Doug’s eyes were narrowed. “I see. Because you feel bad for that girl and her mother, you’re going to forfeit your whole career.” He sighed and shook his head. “Rookie mistake, Gabriella, to get so emotionally attached to your subjects that you forget that your job is to stay behind the camera and record.”

Gabriella kept her gaze focused straight ahead. Do not crumble.

“You’re on your way to real success,” he continued. “Do you know how much interest your film is generating? What a splash your trailer made? Just the other day Carla thanked me for sending you her way. She said your documentary was already generating more buzz than almost any other film at the festival.”

For a moment, Gabriella’s eyes shone. “Really?”

Doug leaned forward, perhaps sensing a weakening resolve. “You have a tremendously bright future ahead of you. Don’t tell me you’re going to throw it away because of one girl.”

Gabriella felt a pounding in her ears. Tremendously bright future. Doug was not the effusive type; if he said it, he meant it. She closed her eyes. No… This was not about feeling bad for someone, or overcoming some sort of guilt trip. It was about doing what’s right. And, tempting — oh, how achingly tempting! — as it was, her highest value in life was not to succeed in the film world. She’d made that choice long ago, when she’d decided to leave that world the first time around, to live a Torah lifestyle.

But sometimes, she thought wryly, we forget, and we need to choose a second time as well.

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 645)