27. School stress
Marcy was not expecting to be confronted by a furious Brittanny Paige by her locker when arriving at school that morning.
"I thought I told you to stay away from Josh."
"Excuse me?" Marcy really didn’t have time for Brittanny and her pathetic demands that morning. She also didn’t need her mood broken: she was still buoyant from the previous evening with Gray.
Though it was weird having to come back to school and switch back into student-teacher mode.
"You know what I mean. You two are over. Josh dumped you. He doesn’t want to be with you. So stop trying to mess up his life," Brittanny said.
Marcy was irritated and bewildered. "I have no clue what you’re on about. I have nothing to do with Josh any more. But it’s none of your damn business what I do or who with."
Brittanny rolled her eyes and looked contemptuous. Ugly soul, ugly face, Marcy thought.
"You’re screwing up him and Gretchen. He’s had to cool it with her because of you."
"Because of me?"
"Because you keep crying and calling him and asking him to hang out all the time," Brittanny said.
"Did Josh say that?" Marcy asked.
"For God’s sake, Marcy, don’t try to deny it. Just leave him - and us - alone. It didn’t work out with you two and it never will." Brittanny was getting more and more irate.
Marcy smiled, knowing nothing would infuriate Brittanny more. "He’s all yours. Or should I say all Gretchen’s. I have no interest in him whatever."
"Yeah, like I believe that."
"Believe what you want to." Marcy turned and walked away. Brittanny wasn’t in her next class at least, which was a relief. She felt pretty furious with Josh though. Trying to two-time Gretchen and blame it on Marcy.
Unfortunately the Bitchy Gang were in Marcy’s history class later that morning. Fortunately they were ignoring her, because they were having an involved discussion about something else.
"He could just be saying that though," Gretchen was saying. "Like to keep people off his back. It’s not like he has a ring or anything."
Marcy first thought they were talking about Josh again.
"And he’s new in town. He could hardly have met someone already," another of Brittanny’s cronies were saying.
"I’m sure he does really like you," Gretchen said. "He probably just doesn’t want to make a move because of the risk."
"Also he may have seen you around school with Jay," the other girl said to Brittanny. "Like he might not want to mess that up."
"Maybe if there’s a field trip or something, outside Springdale," Gretchen suggested. "To a French museum. Maybe he’ll say something then."
Marcy realised to her amusement and horror that they were talking about Mr Grayson, and Brittanny’s romantic prospects with him. She wanted to laugh, except the fact that they were scrutinising his love life was kind of horrifying.
She wouldn’t have put it past them to try and do their own investigations outside school: follow his car home or something, if they hadn’t already done so. If they ever saw hers in the vicinity… it didn’t bear thinking about. Marcy and Gray would have to be a lot more careful.
Damn Brittanny. As if Gray would ever be interested in someone as shallow and immature as her.
Marcy was feeling rattled enough without the thing that happened next. Josh.
He came and slid into the empty seat next to hers. "OK if I sit here?"
"Shouldn’t you be sitting with Gretchen?" Marcy said, already feeling cold icy dagger stares on her back.
"We broke up," Josh said.
This was all she needed. "Did you tell them I’d been calling you?" she asked, under her breath.
Josh looked sheepish. "Kind of. I thought it would be easier that way. She wouldn’t be so hurt."
He was such a coward, Marcy was disgusted with him. "You’ve made things a thousand times worse. Like I said before, I’m not interested in getting back with you. And now Brittanny is on my case because she thinks I split you and her cousin up."
"I know you’re still mad, Marcy, I can be patient."
He was so exasperating! Maybe if she told him there was someone else he would get off her case. Or maybe that would make it even worse? She didn’t need him snooping her business as well.
"Please Josh, just give it up. I am genuinely so busy right now, what with AP classes and everything. I know I was sad when we broke up -" in fact it seemed so long ago now and so trivial that she could hardly remember either way "- but it’s all turned out for the best. Just focusing on my studies as much as possible is helpful right now."
But Josh wasn’t going to give up. "What about Friday? Just come over to my place and we’ll watch a movie. Friends only."
"Truthfully I can’t. I’m doing this theatre thing, and we have rehearsals," Marcy told him.
"I thought you said you only had time to study right now."
Marcy wanted to shake him. "It’s part of that. You know that I want to get onto a theatre degree. I need this for extra-curricular points." This was more or less true. It was great experience, either way. She almost felt grateful to Mrs Helberg for pressuring her into it. Even if Gray hadn’t joined it would have been worthwhile.
Josh looked suspicious and sulky. "You’ve changed. Something’s up with you."
Before Marcy could reply their history teacher arrived, and conversation had to stop.
Revel found it hilarious when Marcy related some of the conversations at lunch. "If only there was a French museum trip so you could watch Brittanny in action. I’d pay to see that seduction attempt."
She agreed that Brittanny’s crush on Mr Grayson made things more dangerous for Marcy. If Brittanny even got a hint that Marcy and her French teacher were on friendlier than average terms, there would be hell to pay.
"It’s a good thing you’re in AP French at least. Otherwise he might give himself away."
Marcy refuted this. Gray was totally professional at school.
"That’s what you think," Revel said. "I’ve seen him at rehearsals even when he wasn’t supposed to be with you. He’s hopeless at concealing it."
Just then Mr Grayson came past them and stopped briefly. "Hi Revel, Marcy. Word perfect for Friday?" he asked Revel.
"See you tomorrow then. Have a good afternoon."
He caught Marcy’s eye as he left, and the expression in it made her heart leap. It was a knowing look, it made her feel like blushing. She desperately hoped she wasn’t going red, because that would really give things away.
Just as he had gone she glanced across and saw Brittanny and her friends looking over at their table in fury, and muttering amongst themselves.
"Don’t sweat it," Revel said. "You can always say it was about an AP assignment. Or even the theatre thing, they’re all going to find out some time."
Josh already knew, of course. Though not that Mr Grayson was also a cast member.
"What do you think she’d do if she found out?" Marcy asked. "I mean that Mr Grayson is part of the same theatre group that we are?"
Revel dipped a carrot stick in mayonnaise. Marcy had noticed that she never ate ketchup. "Try to join, I suspect. And then try to poison Cora Helberg or something."
Brittanny as Sarah opposite Gray as Sky was an atrocious thought. The horror showed on Marcy’s face.
"We can’t let her know. I’ll warn Gray," Macy said.
"It’s wisest. At least wait until it’s so far along they couldn’t let anyone else join, at least for this production." Revel had finished her lunch and stood up. "Let’s go. And if you want to 'stay at mine' so to speak on Friday night, it’s cool."