| Diary Serial |

Starring Role: Chapter 10

Despite everything, despite knowing others would love to be in my place — I still feel sorriest for me


Today, Baylee and I leave choir practice halfway through; we have play practice. Chan lets out a dramatic sigh as we leave.

“Oh noooo…. We really need you for the medley! Will you be back before the end of the practice?”

I look at Baylee. We’re practicing Scene Ten now, that could take a while.

“We’ll try,” Baylee promises.

“How’s choir going?” Miss Weller asks when we come in. I’m gratified to be noticed, but before we can even answer, Chaya and Shaindy charge over, frantic about some problem with the dialogue in Scene Eight, and just like that, we’re background props again.

I muster up a little enthusiasm when we get up on stage. Scene Ten is my favorite; I actually have something important to say. I perform my lines with what I hope is the perfect blend of drama and realism, stepping seamlessly into the spotlight for a few blissful moments.

“Great! Good! I think this scene is really good to go,” Chaya says enthusiastically. “I don’t think we need to go over it again. Scene Eleven needs a ton more work.”

Shaindy nods in agreement. “Okay, guys, early dismissal! You’re the best! Scene Eleven, let’s go!”

I walk down the steps slowly, feeling deflated. So that’s what we get for acting well.

“Back to choir,” Baylee says. “Chan will be happy. We’ve hardly missed anything.”

I lag behind. “Ugh, let’s just skip the rest of practice. They’ll never know.”

Baylee frowns. “C’mon, Rena, why are you so down about production? I mean, come on, can’t we just have a good time? We’re in play and choir, it’s fun, why d’you have to be so negative about it all?”

It’s so unlike Baylee to challenge me like that, I’m almost dumbstruck. “You wouldn’t understand,” I mutter, and then I turn left toward our lockers, instead of right, to choir practice.

Baylee hesitates a moment, then follows me. “I do understand,” she says. “You think I don’t? You think maybe, just maybe, you’re not the only one who enjoys being in the spotlight? At least be grateful you have a few major lines to say, something that actually adds to the story, besides for ‘yes, sir’ and ‘right away, my lady.’ ” She sounds a little choked up at the end, and I’m stunned. Baylee? Happy-go-lucky, cheerful Baylee?

“But — but I thought you were happy with your part,” I stammer. “And — the choir…”

Baylee sighs, flops down onto the floor, and hugs her knees. “I am. Most of the time, at least. It’s just… hard, you know, when you’re so upset about it… my part’s even smaller than yours.”

Right. I knew that already, it was one of the first things I checked. I’d known it, but I’d never actually understood it, never felt what it must be like for Baylee to be overshadowed, not just by the rest of the class, not just by the Lucias and Marias and all, but by her own best friend.

And then there’s choir. Baylee has duets and stuff, but I’m the one with the major solo. And instead of trying to make the best of things, trying to keep positive, I’ve been moping around, miserable about it all. Moping to Baylee, whose parts are even less glamorous than mine.

I slip down beside her. “I — sorry,” I say awkwardly. “I didn’t realize…”

Baylee waves away the attempt. “It’s okay. Forget I said anything. I’m really fine with everything. Don’t worry about it.”

We sit there for a few minutes. I’m surprised when a clatter of footsteps break into our thoughts. A moment later, Shira Jacoby appears. I guess choir practice is over.

“Oh, so you two are here. Choir’s too nerdy after play practice for you to come back?” she asks tartly.

I wonder again, what’s up with the girl. Why is she so — bitter all the time?

“You know, some of us make it to practice even though we can’t be bothered,” she continues. Over her shoulder, before me or Baylee can reply, she adds, “I’ve been in choir for four years. It gets boring. But I still show up.”

She flounces off.

I look at Baylee, then look away.

I feel bad for Shira. For Baylee, too. But despite everything, despite knowing others would love to be in my place — I still feel sorriest for me.

To be continued…


(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 895)

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