omething had happened between her mother and Gabriella, Huvy realized. In all of the rehearsals these past two weeks, Gabriella was overly polite toward Rina, while Rina was… well, practically ignoring her. Huvy knew it wasn’t her business, but worrying about her mother was a long-ingrained habit.

“Comfortable?” Gabriella smiled encouragingly at Huvy. Huvy was sitting in an armchair in Gabriella’s living room, the video recorder set up between them.

Huvy squirmed. Petrified was more like it. “Yeah,” she said.

Gabriella shot her an understanding look. “There’s nothing to be nervous about. We’re not doing a live recording here; anything you don’t like, we erase. Promise.”

Huvy took a shaky breath. How did Gabriella always manage to say exactly what she needed to hear? She unclenched her teeth and said, “Okay, I’m ready.”

Gabriella’s turquoise and magenta scarf swung around her neck as she tilted her head to the side, eyes crinkling as she grinned at Huvy. Gabriella always seemed so self-assured, so poised. Were people like her born that way, or did they discover the magical formula at some point in their lives? Would she ever in a million years discover it herself?

“Let’s get to know you, Huvy. Tell me something wonderful about yourself.”

Huvy’s eyes widened. Something wonderful? It was on the tip of her tongue to say “nothing,” but she knew she’d hear it from Gabriella, and certainly from her mother, later, when she watched this.

After several face-boiling moments of squinting into space, she finally said, “I’m good at home stuff. You know, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the little kids.”

She glanced at Gabriella. Did that sound stupid? But Gabriella nodded encouragingly.

“And, um… I do well in school. I like to read. And sing.” She sounded pathetic. “That enough?”

Gabriella smiled. “What about acting?”

“Oh, no, I’m not the acting type, I’m too shy—” She stopped suddenly, cheeks burning. Boy, did she sound dumb now. Rushing to explain herself, she said quickly, “Okay, so why does an introvert with a capital ‘I’ try out for a role in a movie?”

She stared down at her lap, and for just a moment, she forgot that Gabriella was in the room, that there was a camera rolling. “I think I had this crazy urge to surprise everyone, to show them that quiet little Huvy can also do something wild and cool. Especially my moth—” Her mouth suddenly clamped closed as she looked up at Gabriella, horrified at what she’d nearly said.

“Erase that last part,” she whispered.

 (Excerpted from Family First, Issue 607)