Starring Role: Chapter 8| January 4, 2022
Devora looks hurt. Whoops, I hadn’t realized she was still standing there
“Heyyy! You two are joining us in choir?”
It’s less than ten seconds since Baylee and I have arrived at our first choir rehearsal, and our presence has been officially spotted.
“Yup. We heard you guys are having so much fun, we got FOMO,” Baylee jokes.
Shira Jacoby rolls her eyes. “Hope you’re not disappointed then. It’s not that much fun listening to Devora and Chan try shushing the ninth graders every two seconds.”
There are only a handful of 12th graders in choir. The others, Faigy, Adina, and Tova, are pretty quiet. They seem happy that we’ve joined, as if our presence makes it somehow less nerdy for a 12th grader to be in choir.
At least some people are happy about this arrangement.
Devora bustles over. “Okay, here are the songs we’re using, you know them all, right?” She hands us a sheaf of papers with the words. I look through them, some medley of Avinu Malkeinus, Uri Davidi’s “Tefillah Sheli,” and an English song.
“Oooh, I love this song,” Baylee bubbles, pointing at the English words of “Heroes.” “Aren’t they great, Rena?”
I shrug. “Yeah, but I mean, they’re kind of typical, we did that one in camp this past summer.”
Devora looks hurt. Whoops, I hadn’t realized she was still standing there.
“I guess they’re popular for a reason,” Baylee says brightly.
Chan bounces up and down at the front of the room. “Okay, guys, let’s start!”
Forty girls straggle into position. Devora gives us temporary positions in the back row, next to the other 12th graders. Thank goodness for that.
“Okaaaaay,” Chan calls. “Before we start, let’s all welcome the latest and greatest members of our amazing CHOIR!! Baylee Price and Rena Wieder! Woo-hoooooo!”
Everyone cheers, and I feel my face go red as half the choir turns to stare.
“And now, we’re going to begin with our first song. ‘Tefillah Sheli.’”
Devora switches on the music. There’s a semi-enthusiastic burst of noise. Baylee takes a moment to get into the swing of the song, and then she too joins in. I notice that our other classmates barely join in. Why not? Shira sings nicely. I think the others do too.
At the first chorus, everyone abruptly goes silent. Baylee sings the first note of “Va’aniii,” then claps a hand over her mouth and giggles. “Whoops!”
Anyone who hadn’t stared at us yet, turns around now. Great.
“This is going to be a solo, but Chaya Esty isn’t here today,” Devora explains.
“Why did we even agree to this?” I mutter to Baylee, while we wait for the non-solo to end.
Shira’s standing on Baylee’s other side. I see her eyes flicker in my direction, a strange expression on her face. What’s up with her? She seems so… negative.
We stumble through the rest of the song, and then Chan gets busy rearranging things. “Okay, Rena, we need you in harmony, will you move over here? And Baylee, I want you to try singing with Pessy for the second solo, we were thinking of making it into a duet, for now do the regular high harmony but we might switch things up once we see how it sounds…”
Shira mutters something to Faigy. I feel a little sorry for them: Neither of them are in harmony, and I’m not sure they have solos. And now here we are on our first day, getting a whole lot more attention…
Then I remember that we’re here because we’re doing them the favor by saving the choir from utter embarrassment. Personally, I’d rather skip the harmonies and duets and just have a regular, good part in the play. But I’m not getting a choice in the matter. That’s the whole problem.
I cross my arms and press my lips together as the opening bars of “Tefillah Sheli” begin to play again.
At the end of rehearsal we go to put our stuff away. Baylee’s humming the tune of “Heroes.”
“That was fun!” she says. “Nice change from play rehearsals, no?”
“Yeah,” I say, morosely. Tell me about it.
Shira’s at the lockers as well. She looks up. “At least you get to be in both,” she says. There’s something bitter in her voice. “I’d switch any day. You guys are so lucky.” She slams her locker door shut and stalks away.
I stare after her. Lucky?
To be continued…
(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 893)
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