Starring Role: Chapter 7| December 28, 2021
“Here’s the story,” she says briskly. “We need you girls for choir”
“Rena and Baylee,” Miss Weller announces at the end of class. “Will you come see me in the props room during recess?”
Baylee and I look at each other, surprised. If Miss Weller is usually busy, then three weeks into production she’s ten times busier. The play, the props, the costumes, the technical details — she’s constantly busy with the production heads, the play heads, or all four at once, with another six girls clamoring for attention behind them.
“What does she want from us?” I ask Baylee, as we pack our books away.
Baylee gives an elaborate shrug. “Maybe something to do with our parts in the play?”
“What’s there to say about them?” I mutter, but then I wonder...
Could it be that Miss Weller wants to change something? Give us different parts? Give me a different part?
My mind flashes back to rehearsal: Maybe Chani’s given up her part? She needs a new Maria? But what about Baylee, why is she also being called in? What if something had come up for Mindy — Lucia? A wedding in Eretz Yisrael, a cousin’s simchah... maybe she was backing out? Ugh, no, it couldn’t be, no one would give up such a part, not for anything in the world.
More likely she wants us to help out backstage or something. Do the playbill or help with scenery. Perfect for the girls with only 20 lines in the entire play.
The props room is actually a small office that’s usually used for tutoring sessions, except for two months a year, when it gets transformed into a treasury of weird and wonderful items: an elaborate, carved armchair, an inkwell and feather, a heavy, wooden chest. Miss Weller is sitting on the armchair, the only seat there is in the room, so Baylee and I stand near the door, awkwardly.
“Here’s the story,” she says briskly. “We need you girls for choir.”
My mouth drops, and my heart goes with it.
“For choir?” Baylee squeaks, and even she sounds upset, for the first time. “But — what about our parts in the play?”
“Oh, that’s not a problem, you’ll be in both,” Miss Weller says, waving a hand. “I think you two are mature enough to balance both sets of rehearsals. The choir heads just don’t have a strong enough set of girls this year. They specifically requested you two, you know.”
My lips tighten into a straight line. Mature enough, right. More like the two girls with the smallest parts, the only two she could spare from the play, because no one would miss us.
There’s a tap at the door, and then something bangs into my back.
“Oy, I’m so sorry!” Devora exclaims. “I didn’t realize you were here already.” She and Chan, the choir heads, squeeze into the room. “So, you’re gonna be in choir, right?”
“Sure we will,” Baylee says for both of us.
“Oh my goodness, we so need you two.” Chan grabs my arm. “Remember how bad auditions were? Well, rehearsals are worse. The ones who can sing on key literally barely open their mouths. And the ones who belt out the songs like they want Australia to hear them, can’t keep on key. Or on rhythm. Or both!”
I smile despite myself. Chan Shapiro is Miss Melodramatic. She should’ve had a part in the play.
The play. Right.
I turn to Miss Weller. “What about play practice? Won’t it clash with choir?”
“As long as you come for your scenes, it’s fine,” Miss Weller says. She thumbs through a scribbled-over copy of the play practice schedule. It has so many notes, asterisks, and crossings-out, that I wonder how she can even read anything. “I see we don’t need you two again until Thursday, so until then, they’re all yours,” she says with a beaming nod in Devora and Chan’s direction. They look so happy to have us on board, that for a moment I feel good.
Then I remember why the two of us are so conveniently available for choir practices, and all the good feeling dissipates.
The bell rings, and we head for class, Devora calling some last minute instructions after us. I leave it to Baylee to listen. I’m too busy digesting the fact that now, I’m not just a tiny part in the play, I’m also in the choir, together with half of ninth grade and half of tenth. Joy, oh, joy.
My sisters are gonna love this.
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 892)
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