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Center Stage: Chapter 39

Gila Arnold

Rina dropped the spatula she was holding. “Gabriella took Huvy shopping? What are you talking about? I thought she went shopping with Eli— with her father”

Wednesday, January 02, 2019


ina hummed the new song she’d composed for the film as she basted her Rosh Hashanah roast. For once, everything in her life seemed to be going smoothly. Practices for the post-Succos filming were moving at a fabulous pace. Her mother-in-law was, baruch Hashem, on the mend, and Rina had been able to cut back on her nightly visits. All the kids were back in school, giving her the headspace to focus on her film. And, best of all, Huvy seemed to be undergoing some sort of social breakthrough.

It had started when Huvy came home from the shalom zachar. She’d had a gleam in her eyes that Rina had never seen before. “How was?” she’d asked brightly, and was delighted to hear Huvy’s enthusiastic, “Wonderful!”

And, what was more, her normally taciturn daughter didn’t stop there. In fact, she’d been positively bubbly. “There was plenty of food, even though I’d been so worried, and everyone complimented me on the setup, they said it looked so cute, although it wasn’t just me, of course, Tamar helped a lot, too.”


“Yeah, you know — my friend.” Huvy’s face had turned slightly pink at the word. “I invited her, and she came extra early to help me set up. It was fun!”

Rina had felt like hugging her daughter. Instead, she’d said, “How wonderful! I’m so glad she came. So you decided to listen to my advice about inviting your friends?”

There had been just the tiniest bit of hesitation, and then, “Yeah. Thanks, Mommy! You were so right.”

Rina had beamed.

Now, two weeks later, while it would be an exaggeration to say Huvy was a changed girl, she certainly seemed to be riding some sort of wave. She’d actually gotten together with her friends on a Shabbos afternoon. For Huvy, this was monumental. And Rina couldn’t help but suspect that it was working on the film that had given her this new interest in socializing.

Rina hummed more loudly, feeling a bubble of self-satisfaction. The new tune she’d composed was catchy, even Gabriella had said as much when Rina had taught it to the girls at last week’s practice.

“Smells delicious in here!” Atara pranced into the kitchen and opened the oven. “Yum, apple crisp!”

“Just getting ahead on the Yom Tov cooking,” Rina said. “Which reminds me — I need to take you and Huvy shopping for new clothes. I have time today, in about an hour. Does that work?”

“Works for me.” Atara grabbed an ice pop from the freezer and sat down at the table. “But good luck catching Huvy. She’s at Gabriella’s again.”

Rina turned around. “Gabriella’s? Why?”

Atara licked her ice pop. “Remember Huvy went to Gabriella’s last week to work on that documentary?”

Rina nodded curtly. She hadn’t been thrilled with the idea, but she’d had no reason to say no.

“Well, this morning Gabriella called and asked Huvy to come again. You were out shopping or something, so Huvy told me to tell you when you came home. Huvy must be the star of this documentary, the way Gabriella keeps interviewing her.”

Rina frowned. “How did she get to Gabriella’s house?”

“Gabriella came to pick her up. I recognized her car, from that time she took Huvy shopping for the shalom zachar.”

Rina dropped the spatula she was holding. “Gabriella took Huvy shopping? What are you talking about? I thought she went shopping with Eli— with her father.”

Atara shook her head calmly. “I heard her talking on the phone that morning. Her father couldn’t take her, and she called Gabriella.”

Rina’s mind was whirling. “But why Gabriella, of all people? Why didn’t she ask me?”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 624)

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