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Center Stage: Chapter 49

Gila Arnold

Even in the poor lighting, Gabriella caught her blush. This was the first time in their lives that these girls were being made to feel different

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


abriella took a deep breath of the crisp night air as she stepped outside, trying to ease the day’s tension out of her muscles. It had been more difficult than she’d anticipated, coordinating the scenes with all the extras. By the end, everyone was grumbling, even Connor and his crew.

Poor Rina had to endure everyone’s complaints but really, it wasn’t her fault that they’d had to spend hours redoing hair and costumes, or that the Bulgarian girls had proven to be not quite fluent in English. In the end, they’d needed to recruit the translating services of Mr. and Mrs. Antenov, the hotel proprietors.

And tomorrow they were heading up to the mountains. Another long day to look forward to.

Up ahead, she spotted a small group of girls sitting on a bench in the middle of the grass. Gabriella approached them curiously. It was pretty cold to be lounging around outside

Squinting in the semi-lit darkness, she saw Dini, Malka, and Leah sitting on one bench. Perched on a large rock next to them were two of the Bulgarian girls — easy enough to identify now that they were out of costume. Gabriella crept closer. She was interested to hear what they were talking about, and, if she were honest with herself, she was feeling slightly uneasy about this scene after her conversation with Rina that afternoon.

Her uneasiness grew as she saw the girls leaning over to look at the Bulgarian girl’s phone.

“Thees ees the actress I am telling you about, who is looking like you, Dini.”

Dini took the phone from her hands. “Yeah, she does look kind of like me.” She looked pleased. “So you’re saying this is a popular T.V. show?” Her finger hovered over the screen, as if to press Play on a video clip, but Leah said softly, “Dini.” Dini quickly handed back the phone.

The girl — Rosica — looked bemused. “How do you not know of thees show? I thought eet ees very popular in America.”

“We don’t watch T.V.,” Leah said.

Even in the poor lighting, Gabriella caught her blush. This was the first time in their lives that these girls were being made to feel different. Worse, to feel weird. Gabriella had never felt abnormal, in all her interactions with secular people. But then again, she’d never been all that different, culturally — until she was old enough to choose to be different, and to understand why.

Did these girls understand?

“Thees ees another one of your laws?” Rosica asked. “You have a lot of laws. Eet ees not hard?”

“Oh, no,” Leah said promptly.

“Not when you’re used to it,” Dini added.

“But you are never allowed to — how you say? — not keep a law? Like, if you do want to become big movie actress and perform for men?”

“We’re not allowed,” Malka said.

“But I am also religious Christian, and eef my G-d gives me gift to act, I am taking the gift. Your priest does not let you?”

Dini shrugged. “Rabbi, not priest,” she mumbled. “And it’s not like that.”

(Excerpted from Family First, Issue 634)


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