| Diary Serial |

Starring Role: Chapter 16

This is harder for me than for Baylee. She doesn’t have the same drive as me, the same burning urge to star


I’m up on stage, and for the first time, there’s nowhere I’d rather be less. Mouthing the words as the choir sings, hoping my misery doesn’t show on my face, I just wish this whole performance was over.

“Yes, I too want to sacrifice, it’s what I believe, I’m striving to mirror the example I’ve seen…” sing dozens of voices around me, and despite myself, I’m drawn into the music, the lyrics, the bright lights, and the meaning of what we’re singing.

As Baylee steps forward for her solo — my solo — I expect the resentment to wash over me, but instead, a thought comes into my mind: real heroes, real stars, aren’t born onstage under the spotlight, surrounded by applause.

Real courage is found inside. In growing through struggles, in sacrificing willingly, in staying strong, positive, resilient, despite what’s happening around you.

I listen to Baylee, her sweet voice rising, each note pure and true. She sings the solo beautifully, but when she slips back into her place beside me, she squeezes my hand as if to say, this was yours, I’m feeling for you.

I’m flooded with shame. Baylee got it right, she didn’t let her solo go to her head. She also hasn’t let her minor role get in the way of enjoying production, hasn’t spent two months being negative and jealous, looking at everyone who has it better.

This is harder for me than for Baylee. She doesn’t have the same drive as me, the same burning urge to star. She doesn’t have sisters like mine, talented superstars who set the bar high.

But that doesn’t mean I can’t aspire to be like her anyway. And to try to be happy for others, happy for myself, and simply have a good time.

We finish one song, there’s a burst of applause. Somewhere out in the audience, Ma and Lani and the rest are searching for me among dozens of choir members, or maybe they’ve forgotten I’m there at all, but this is not about them, it’s about me.

The music of the medley begins, and Devora’s motioning to me. I know what she’s trying to say: the harmony is so tricky here, make sure they stay on key. And I do my best. I hum the notes to the girls on my right and left, giving them a lead-in, and that helps the rest of the harmony girls to stay on key, too. We make it through the entire medley without one mishap. Devora looks like she could cry from joy.

And that fills me up in a way that no amount of applause ever could.

Because I helped out, I made a difference, even without being able to sing, even with my rough voice and sore throat.

I’m not irreplaceable, that much I know, but I’m valuable, I’m talented, and every little part matters — my small contribution makes a difference.

My small part, Maid 1 with 22 lines, makes a difference.

And on the heels of that realization comes another: I should have just had fun. Production season is two months long; the performance is just two nights. It’s an opportunity to spend time with friends, to chill, to sing, to act, to watch the other actresses… even to enjoy the lack of pressure that comes with having a smaller part. Acting the maid could’ve been cute and fun. I should’ve had a blast with Baylee. And the choir… I’ve always loved to sing. Especially solos. And instead, I’d created a story in my head, a two-month-long pity party. I’ve spent two months moping and wishing, refusing to simply allow myself to have a good time.

Memories wash over me: skipping practice, complaining about choir, incessantly wishing for Mindy’s role instead of throwing myself into my own. Like Shuli with her neighbor’s song. Like Baylee. Like pretty much most of my classmates and friends.

And now… I can’t sing, I can barely speak, the performance is halfway over, and I’m left with… nothing.

No fun memories of partying through practice. No new friendships formed in the back row of the choir or while waiting for our scene to be called. And worse, I hurt Baylee, I hurt Shira Jacoby, I hurt Devora with my comments… I turned what could’ve been a blast into a calamity.

Under the hot stage lights, music blaring in my ears, and harmony rising around me, I blink back tears and think: What have I done?


To be continued…

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 901)

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