20. An attack
Back in school Marcy was trying to get a pile of things out of her locker while also putting other things back in. She failed, and a heap of stuff fell on the floor.
As bad luck would have it, Brittanny and her group were passing at the same time, and started mocking her. But Josh, surprisingly, didn’t join in.
Instead he bent down and helped her pick everything up.
"What are these?" He was holding the photos of Marcy that Nick had taken, she had forgotten that she had put them inside a book, and now they had slipped out.
Marcy wanted to sink through the floor with embarrassment.
"Just some photos."
"They’re really great." He looked from the photos to Marcy. "When did you get them taken?"
Before Marcy could answer him, Brittanny stepped in. "Let me see." She snatched one of them out of Josh’s grasp. "They’re not great, they’re really ugly and pretentious. Poor Marcy. You just don’t have what it takes, do you? Trying to become a model. It would be funny if it wasn’t so sad." She tried to do an exaggerated imitation of Marcy’s pose in the photos, then smirked at Gretchen.
"I think they’re nice," Josh said. He took the photos from Brittanny handed them back to Marcy and walked off, leaving Brittanny, Gretchen and a couple of others just standing there.
"What the fuck?" Brittanny’s mouth was practically hanging open. Then she turned on Marcy. "What the hell is your problem, Marcy? Are you so sad and desperate that you just can’t accept Josh doesn’t want to be with you any more? Was this some lame, failed attempt to get him back?"
"Josh is with me now," Gretchen told her. "Just remember that."
Marcy was torn between a desire to laugh and to slap Brittanny hard. Instead she tried to channel Revel, and ignored them. This annoyed Brittany even more.
She pushed Marcy against the lockers, quite hard. Pinning her up there she started ranting about what a sad, desperate wannabe Marcy was, and how if she didn’t stay away from Josh she would regret it.
Marcy was so stunned she didn’t react for a moment. Before she could, she heard a voice.
"Exactly what is going on here?"
It was Mr Grayson.
Brittanny turned and instantly sprang back when she saw him. "She tried to attack me, Sir. I was only defending myself. She’s jealous because her boyfriend dumped her for my cousin."
If Marcy had wanted to die a thousand deaths, it was never more than before.
Mr Grayson raised his eyebrows and looked from Brittanny to Marcy. To Marcy’s relief she read cool amusement in his eyes, not anger. Either he didn’t believe Brittanny, or he didn’t care. Marcy hoped it was the former.
"Brittanny, what I saw was you attacking another student. No - " he stopped her trying to interrupt him " - I don’t want excuses. I’ll see you both in detention after school."
Before he left them, he noticed the photos that Marcy was holding. He angled them so he could see. "Those are beautiful, Marcy."
Then he left, leaving a shocked and seething Brittanny and Marcy in complete turmoil. But Brittanny wasn’t stupid enough to resume the fight.
Instead she muttered something to Gretchen about "must feel sorry for her" and they walked off to their next class.
Marcy would have been upset about getting detention unfairly except for the fact that it was with Mr Grayson. After all, she had done nothing wrong and was completely the victim.
But an extra hour in Mr Grayson’s presence would be more of a pleasure than a pain. Besides, she had so much homework this final year that it made no difference whether she sat in a classroom and did it or studied at home later.
She was a few minutes early arriving at detention because her last class had been nearby, and she hadn’t needed to fetch anything else. Mr Grayson was at his desk, marking work.
He looked up as she entered. "Hi Marcy. I wanted a quick word with you."
Surprised, she went over to his desk. He had made a point of not singling her out at school, despite the kiss in the theatre. She had no idea what was going through his mind.
"I know you probably had nothing to do with that fight. But I’ve noticed Brittanny giving you a hard time, and I didn’t want to draw out the situation today and potentially add to that. This detention won’t be on your record."
Marcy smiled in relief. "Thank you."
"I also figured an hour in my presence wouldn’t be too painful for you. Hopefully." He caught her eye, and she could see a glint in his, but before she could respond some more students arrived.
She found a desk by the window, about half way back and got out her English homework. She was in the mood for The Tempest. It was such a strange and exotic story that she could escape into it, letting the words and her imagination create an entirely new world for her. Except Ferdinand now looked strangely like Mr Grayson.
Brittanny marched in looking furious, a scowl making her look even meaner than usual. "I really shouldn’t be here," she told Mr Grayson. "I’m the victim in all this."
He paid no heed. "Please sit down, Brittanny."
Brittanny shot a venomous glare to Marcy as she took a place in one of the back rows. "You’ll pay for this," she said, under her breath.
Mr Grayson couldn’t hear but he could see. "Something you’d like to share, Brittanny?"
But Brittanny just glowered and took her seat. How she could possibly delude herself that Mr Grayson liked her was anyone’s guess, Marcy thought. But she fully expected Brittanny to spin this all to her advantage. Likely she would tell everyone that he had only given her a detention so he could spend more time with her.
Marcy looked up at one point from her Shakespeare to see Mr Grayson’s eyes on her. They held her gaze for a few seconds, then he looked down at his marking again. She hoped Brittanny had been too self-absorbed to notice.
Marcy had no idea where she stood with him. He hadn’t actively rejected her after their last encounter, but nor had he crossed the line again. Maybe she would just have to wait until Friday night.
Amazing to think that until last week, Marcy had been doing everything she possibly could to avoid being dragged into Mrs Helberg’s theatre group.
Now she could barely wait for the next rehearsal.