he hall they’d rented out for auditions was packed beyond Rina’s wildest imagination. Bayla and Tikvah, who’d offered to help her with the auditions — it was their peace offering, she knew — had thought she was overdoing it, renting the largest shul simchah hall in the neighborhood.

“How many people can you possibly expect? Fifty? Sixty? Even a hundred? This is a hall for 400. It will look ridiculous.”

But Rina had confidently reserved the hall nonetheless, and after putting out ads in all the local frum publications, she’d shown up at the hall this Sunday morning, a half hour before the listed time, to find a queue of girls and their mothers already formed at the door. And they kept coming. Bayla and Tikvah were astounded.

Only Gabriella wasn’t surprised. She’d supported Rina’s decision to rent the large hall, which Rina had taken as an encouraging sign. After their rocky start, it was gratifying to know that she could count on Gabriella to support her decisions.

Now, Gabriella turned to her. She’d been sitting by her side all these long hours, tablet in hand, calmly taking notes as girl after girl stepped up to do her five-minute song, dance, and script reading.

“What do you say to a break?”

Rina stared at her. “A break?” Who needed a break? This was exhilarating, fly-high energizing. Greeting mothers, encouraging girls, relating her fabulous film plot over and over. (Each time she did so, it became a bit more exciting, got a few more embellishments that she made sure to jot down in between tryouts, to have Penny add to the screenplay.)

Gabriella looked worn. “We’ve been going straight for four hours now. You don’t have the physical needs of most humans?”

Rina glanced at her watch. “Wow, I didn’t realize it’s been so long.” She still would have kept going, but she couldn’t really blame Gabriella for needing a break. Besides, she didn’t want to get the reputation of being a slave driver.

She nodded and stood up. “Okay, everyone!” she called out to the masses teeming in the waiting area. “We’ll be taking a 20-minute lunch break. Be back soon!”

She turned to Gabriella. “Should we go outside?”

Gabriella smiled grimly. “I think hiding would be a good idea.” She grabbed her bag and started heading out the back door of the hall. After a second’s hesitation (Should she follow her? Did Gabriella mean for the two of them to spend their break together?) Rina did the same.

Once they’d left the crowds, Gabriella twisted her head around. “I noticed there’s a service entrance out here, by the back of the building. Maybe we’ll get some quiet there.”

Rina swallowed. She hated the fact that Gabriella was calling the shots here, even in such an insignificant matter, and she hated even more the fact that it bothered her. “Show me the way,” she said.

They soon reached the end of the dark hall, and Gabriella pushed open the door. She swept her arm. “After you.” (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 602)