Marcy had been looking forward to Tuesday night with a mixture of excitement and nervous anticipation. She was dying to see Gray again outside school. She felt like a stupid girl with a crush but just getting to see him again and spend more time with him, even if it was in a group, was something.
She trusted Revel not to say anything. It was funny, Marcy hadn’t known Revel that long and still didn’t really know her that well, but she felt she could trust her with her life.
Her thoughts were so focused on after school that the usual things happening kind of washed over her, not bothering her. Brittanny had made some mean remark in English and Gretchen and a couple of other girls had sniggered. Josh had actually looked uneasy, Marcy thought. After all, meanness isn’t a very attractive trait. Particularly in someone like Brittanny who wasn’t smart enough to be clever with her spite.
Marcy was now following Revel’s policy of not reacting and not engaging. It was getting easier, because Marcy truly no longer cared what Brittanny and her friends thought of her. Compared to the other things in her life, and the fact that someone as mature and intelligent as Gray had liked her, the bitchy gang seemed kind of petty and worthless.
Not that they saw themselves that way. "I think Mr Grayson wants to ask me on a date," Brittanny said.
"No way! He’d get fired!" Gretchen said.
"I couldn’t go, of course. You know, because of Jay. If he does ask me I’ll just have to break his heart, I guess."
"Whose, Jay’s or Mr Grayson’s?" another girl asked.
Brittanny snapped at her. "Mr Grayson’s, of course. After all, Jay is my boyfriend and we’re totally committed to one another."
"What makes you think Mr Grayson likes you? Has he said anything?" the girl asked.
This was not a wise thing to ask Brittanny, who glared at her. "Of course not. Not yet, anyway. But he’s given me a look, you know? If you had a boyfriend you would know about these things," she said, and flounced off with Gretchen.
That girl will be out in the cold for a while, Marcy thought. Challenging Brittanny was very dangerous.
English went well. It was pretty much her favourite subject. Except for French, but that probably shouldn’t count because if Mrs Vansittart had returned it would have gone right back down the list.
They were studying Shakespeare’s The Tempest, which Marcy loved. She liked the fairy-tale plays far more than Shakespeare’s historic drama. Though Macbeth was always fun, with the ghosts and witches.
She was still busy writing her own play though she hadn’t had the courage to show it to anyone yet. It wasn’t the first play she had started writing, but it was the only one she had continued with.
Marcy and Revel managed to be early at rehearsal that evening. Len was going to be blocking out the scenes - telling the actors where they should stand and move in each scene. Marcy saw that his script was covered with pencilled notes and highlights.
Another woman in the chorus would be arranging the choreography, but not just yet. Tonight would just be regular movements on stage.
Gray arrived along with several other cast members. Mrs Helberg exclaimed with delight when she saw them appear. It was clearly her own little kingdom. Marcy feared for Len’s chances of getting his own stage directions across.
Gray greeted Marcy and Revel with a "hi" and a nod, but nothing more. Marcy felt a bit deflated but after all, what was she expecting? He looked so hot as well. He had changed out of his teacher’s clothes into jeans and a shirt and his hair looked damp. She thought he must have been for a run and a shower.
The memory of being in his shower with him made her shiver. She could remember only too well the water running off his hard muscles. And the way he had held her…
Snap out of it, Marcy, she told herself firmly. She had to start being more professional and viewing him as her teacher at school, and her platonic colleague at theatre. Though it was pretty hard.
She wondered if other members of the company knew that Gray was her and Revel’s teacher. After all, he’d presumably told them his job when he first joined up, and Mrs Helberg knew that Marcy went to Springdale High.
To Marcy’s surprise, Len turned out to have something of an iron will as a director. She had thought him a rather timid man, easily bowled over by Mrs Helberg. Instead he took full command, and any attempts by Mrs Helberg to suggest something else were met with a calm, unyielding refusal.
"We’ll try it this way for now, thanks Cora," Len said.
Marcy was also impressed by the way Len organised the scenes. He could clearly see in his mind what he wanted. Alan, the stage manager, was also in charge of the sets, and he made notes while Len blocked it all out. Alan had a short, pointed beard and a round face.
Since there was nothing to do backstage at this time, Marcy was free to hang out at the front near Len and Alan. For now she absorbed everything. A couple of times she thought of something that might work in an interesting way, but she buttoned her lip for now. She didn’t want to be another Mrs Helberg.
Her chance came in a scene between Revel and the actor playing Nathan. Len’s idea worked pretty well, but it meant Miss Adelaide would be obscured at one point. Timidly, Marcy suggested her change. Len looked a little surprised but gave it a go, and it worked beautifully. Revel shot Marcy a grin of thanks.
At the half way break she was standing by Gray at the coffee machine.
"You have a real eye for this, don’t you?" he said.
Marcy tried not to blush at the praise.
"It was just something I thought of."
"Show me?" He took her wrist and pulled her script from her hand. Inside were some of Marcy’s own thoughts about the production. Gray chuckled at one of them. "Don’t show that one to Cora!"
It was an idea Marcy had had to try and downplay the shape of Mrs Helberg next to Gray. His height and fitness made her look even more stout than she was. Len had positioned them in profile, facing one another, for a particular scene. Marcy had adjusted this to have Mrs Helberg three-quarters on.
"I guess if it was opera, these things don’t really matter," she said. Opera seemed to be full of terribly fat female singers playing young maidens. Far heavier and older than Mrs Helberg.
"If it was opera," Gray said. And then he fell silent and they were looking into one another’s eyes again.
Marcy missed him so badly. In the short time they had spent together she had felt that they were a team. He was on her side. As her teacher, he was kind of in opposition to her.
Before either of them could say anything, there was a loud summons from Mrs Helberg and everyone had to finish their drinks and get back to rehearsing.
As Gray went back onto the stage he turned back to look at Marcy one more time. She wished she could read his thoughts. She was very glad he couldn’t read hers.