On Monday Marcy decided to take the bull by the horns. She simply didn’t care any more what any of the supposed in-crowd thought of her.
So she marched up to Brittanny and Gretchen before class started. They were doing their usual thing of exaggerated eye rolling and trying to look down on everyone. Marcy had noticed that Gretchen tried to dress like Brittanny but never managed it so well.
Not that Brittanny ever really looked that great. She might have a good figure with all her cheerleading, but even designer clothes couldn’t actually turn her into a model. Always having a sour, sneering expression didn’t help.
When Marcy thought of how stunning Revel looked in her photos the comparison was laughable. All the more so because Brittanny despised Revel and thought her ugly and uncool.
"A word, please," Marcy said.
Both girls looked startled. Before Brittanny had time to gather herself together and attempt a put down, Marcy spoke, addressing Gretchen directly. "If you could please call your little boyfriend off from harassing me, I would be very grateful."
"If you mean Josh, he’s not my boyfriend…" Gretchen began to say.
"So far as I’m concerned he became your problem when he decided to date you, not me. And you’re absolutely welcome to him. Given I’m not managing to get the message through to him, if you could request that he no longer pester me for dates, send me unwanted gifts, or sexually assault me at school I would be very grateful. Thank you for your time."
Marcy turned and left, leaving Brittanny and Gretchen open mouthed. If nothing else, it would spell out to them that she had absolutely nothing to do with Josh dumping Gretchen.
It would also infuriate Gretchen to think she had been dumped by someone that Marcy wouldn’t even go near.
Above all, Marcy was amazed at how easy it had been to put them in their place. Once you stopped caring, you could do anything. It was like a super power. When she thought how many years she had sought Brittanny’s approval, tried to keep on her good side, tried to keep her head down and not be outcast, she felt frustrated with herself. What a waste of time it all was.
The next confrontation was considerably harder. Marcy spent the whole of French with her stomach turning over from nerves, trying to act normally. She avoided catching Mr Grayson’s eye at all.
At the end, she deliberately lingered as the others left. She could tell that he didn’t want her to stay behind, but that he also expected it.
She took a deep breath. "I really need to talk to you."
"Marcy, we have nothing to talk about." He was trying to appear formal but she could tell it was an act, at least partly.
"You owe me the chance to explain. What happened by the lockers was not my choice. Josh basically assaulted me. We did date, some time ago, but it was over during the summer. Now he won’t take no for an answer."
Mr Grayson did look a bit shamefaced. "You don’t owe me an explanation." He dropped his voice. "I know I overreacted. But that’s why this has got to stop. It’s not right, it’s too dangerous and too complicated."
Marcy felt like she was clinging onto a rock face with her finger tips, gradually losing her grasp.
"I don’t see how it’s complicated. No one knows," she said.
"I know. I also know that I can barely control myself around you. It can’t go on. I had no right to get mad last week. You should be dating guys like that, your own age."
The first thing was one of the best things he could have said. Because he was still using present tense. But the end was the worst thing he could have said so Marcy felt wretched. He was putting her in her place as a student, trying to emphasis the gap between them.
"That didn’t bother you before."
"It did, I just tried to kid myself it didn’t."
My Grayson looked so gorgeous today. The worry and the sleepless look he had made his features even more defined. It also made him look older and more remote. This only made Marcy want him even more.
"What about theatre group?" she asked.
He pushed his hand through his hair. Marcy wished she could run her own fingers through it. "What about it?" he said. "Nothing needs to change, we rehearse, we go home."
But not together, was his implication.
"Then do we act friendly? Or pretend not to know one another?"
Mr Grayson now looked frustrated. "Everyone knows that we know each other, that I’m your teacher. It’s no big deal. We just act like any other teacher and student, which is what we should have done from the start."
"So I’ll call you Mr Grayson, then?"
He flinched at this. "If you prefer."
Marcy didn’t prefer it at all. She decided she probably wouldn’t call him anything. If she really needed, she could probably just call him Sky. Len tended to call the actors by their character names even when they were offstage: Mrs Helberg in particular adored this practice for some reason.
"Everything that happened then, we just forget about it?"
Again Mr Grayson looked uneasy. Marcy figured he must at least feel bad about things. "It’s for the best." He looked into her eyes and for a moment it was like how he used to be, when they were alone. His gaze was a little softer. "I am really sorry for what happened. I do care about you, Marcy. But it needs to be no more than a professional, student teacher relationship."
The way he said it could have been meant just as a friend but Marcy hoped, really hoped, that he meant that he still cared in a deeper way. She had really felt like he did before, and surely he couldn’t have got over it all that quickly? Not if seeing her with Josh had made him that mad.
"Very well, Sir." She emphasised the "Sir" just slightly, and Mr Grayson flinched once more. Marcy couldn’t believe that there was such a huge wall between them already. Just a week or so ago she had been in his bed, in his arms, and now he was completely off-limits.
She just wasn’t sure whether she should accept things. Maybe after time he’d change his mind? If so, should she try and encourage that? Or should she back right off and just let things be?