| Cozey Feature |


The mess I now see myself facing started a week ago when Shani and I had auditioned for drama

“Wow, wow, wow!”

I breathe, blinking hard and rubbing my eyes. “They must have made a mistake.”

They must have, I reason as I turn to Shani.

“No, they couldn’t have. You’re really good.” Shani replies, and even though her lips are tipped up into a smile, I can’t help but notice how stretched they look. Or how the light’s refracting off her eyes.

The mess I now see myself facing started a week ago when Shani and I had auditioned for drama.

“It’s our last year,” Shani had said, pulling me toward the sign-up sheet. “This is our last chance to finally be together for play!”

“We’re always together for play,” I’d told her. “We’re in the same production!”

“You know that’s not what I meant,” She rolled her eyes and, without hesitation, wrote my name with a flourish beneath hers. I’d shrugged because I knew who would get the lead, and that person wouldn’t be me. For the past three years, I’ve been in awe of Shani’s ability to capture the essence of a script and her talent for crying on demand. It always amazed me how her acting touched the audience, making them laugh or cry just when she did.

So, when I went into Mrs. Dorfman’s audition room and recited the lines for Rivka, the lead, I didn’t have high hopes; I knew even with my best nonexistent acting skills, I wouldn’t even be cast as the quirky best friend. I was the girl on the sidelines, the one people tended to forget during playtime. The one who did last-minute mending an hour before the curtains rose, or the one who directed dancers backstage, and for three years, I was cool with it; that was how it was. Until now, that is.

“I’m telling you; Mrs. Dorfman made a mistake. This doesn’t make sense. Like Zero.” I shook my head, side to side, back and forth, up and down. As if to say this situation was completely and totally messed up. “You should have been Rivka.”

“No,” she sighs. “I’m supposed to be…” she trails her finger down the list, and then down the next one, and the next one until, she says, voice tight, “Songdance.

When I signed Raizy up for drama, I never meant for her to get the lead. I didn’t even think she would get a part, honestly. I just wanted her to try something new, different. She was always involved with making the props or directing my spotlight, and we were friends, best friends. Shouldn’t a good friend help the other step out of their comfort zone to reach their full potential? I just didn’t realize that by helping her reach her full potential, she’d step on my toes.

The day after the cast list was hung on the bulletin board, the news raced down the halls like a loose button freshly released from its thread.

“Oish, it must be so hard for you,” Rikki whispered to me during Navi. She seemed to be the tenth person who shared the same sentiment that day. “That part should have totally been yours.”

“No, it’s fine,” I whispered back, scribbling down the meforash listed on the board. “Raizy totally deserves it!” And the smile I’ve been so accustomed to these past few hours began to hurt at the corners, because what I really wanted to say back was that she was right. I should have.

As the play date grew closer, I couldn’t help but begin to resent where I’d been placed. Songdance didn’t perform until the end of the play. I already knew the lyrics and the moves by heart, and I hated the costume. As Ariella handed me the blue sash I was supposed to wear, my mind flashed to a similar scene a year ago, where Raizy had handed me an elaborate costume that she’d meticulously sewed for weeks. Was Ariella giving her a similar costume?

These past few weeks, I hadn’t seen Raizy outside of homeroom and lunch period, and even that was becoming less common as rehearsals, practices, and costume fittings were in higher demand.

I remembered getting slurpies with the rest of the drama girls on the way to the stage, staying late, and ordering pizza for dinner as we tried to get our dialogue just right. Academics had never been my strong suit, but play was, and I counted down the months to it.

It would kill Raizy to find out how I truly felt or to pretend that I wasn’t overly ecstatic for her when she said she couldn’t come after school to study because she had play practice. It was far easier to ignore her. To shrug her off before she could ask how I was holding up.

Before I knew it, the pressure had built to near explosion. So when she asked me — with sympathy crinkling her eyes — if I would like to practice her lines with her one night because she didn’t think she was capturing the right tone, my response was cool, perhaps too sharp. I said, ‘No, I’m sure the drama girls are better at it than me.‘ Then, I ran off before I could grasp the hurt that was snuffing out her sympathy.

By the time play night rolled around, Shani and I hadn’t looked at each other in days. It was better than meeting each other’s eyes and then quickly looking away. I didn’t know what to say to her. This was her final year to perform; she probably wanted to leave her memory here with a bang, and I “stole” it from under her feet. I could only imagine how she must be feeling.

But does she not realize how hard it is for me to be in the spotlight? How “the drama girls” are helping me get my lines just right, how I’ve spent hours and hours practicing in front of the mirror, how my grades have slipped, or how I needed my best friend to cheer me on and tell me everything would be okay? When I asked her for help the other day, I wasn’t trying to rub it in her face; I was asking for her support.

As I grip the hand of the person beside me before starting Act 1, I keep thinking that if I could tell Shani one thing, it would be, can’t you see how out of my comfort zone I am? All I need is a helping hand.

Sitting in row D in the audience, waiting for intermission and then Act 3, I watch Raizy command the stage. Her performance effortlessly switches from making the audience erupt in laughter to drawing them into a poignant silence. She’s extraordinary, and I couldn’t have done a better job. But as I watch her, I keep thinking, if only I would have told her how hard things were for me. But would she have been able to take it?



(Originally featured in Cozey, Issue 992)

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