36. Pushing in
To Marcy’s and Revel’s amusement, Brittanny Paige actually tried to join the Springdale Players. She managed to find out when and where the next rehearsal was, and invited herself along.
She was clearly desperate to try and hang out with Mr Grayson.
Brittanny had dolled herself up and looked ridiculous, Marcy thought. So much so that she almost - almost, not quite - felt sorry for her. Brittanny was wearing a super tight short skirt and heels and a low cut top, which looked really silly given what a cold night it was.
Such a try-hard. If only she realised that Mr Grayson truly couldn’t stand her.
Brittanny feigned a friendly greeting to Marcy, who was standing with Len, when she arrived.
"So I thought I might try out for your theatre group." Brittanny looked a little embarrassed and defiant as she said this.
Marcy tried to hide a smile. "You should probably talk with Mrs Helberg then."
"Is she directing this show?" Brittanny asked.
"No, Len is." Marcy introduced them.
Brittanny tried to turn on her charm. It was such a bad piece of acting that even if Len wasn’t an experienced director he would have seen straight through it.
"Hi, I’m Brittanny. I’m really interested in acting, and I wondered if you still had roles available?"
Len raised his eyebrows, taking in the wannabe-vision before him. "Not for this production, no, we’re well on the way to opening night."
"Like if someone’s sick, or an understudy role?"
Len looked bemused. "Are you a friend of Marcy’s?" he asked her.
Don’t put this on me, Marcy thought. She didn’t want to be associated with Brittanny.
"We’re both at Springdale," Brittanny replied.
"As I said, I’m afraid there’s nothing available for this production. If you’re interested in future productions, you should talk to Cora." He waved Mrs Helberg over. "A possible new recruit for you."
Mrs Helberg came over, and was rather taken aback by Brittanny. "Can I help, dear?"
Brittanny repeated her request. "I’m really interested in acting and would like to join up." Her eyes flicked round the stage, clearly trying to spot Mr Grayson. But he was backstage in the dressing rooms, where some preliminary costume fittings were going on.
"I’m delighted to hear it. We could always use extra hands backstage," Mrs Helberg told Brittanny.
"No, I mean I’d like to act, not do off-stage stuff," Brittanny said.
Now it was Mrs Helberg’s turn to frown slightly, as Brittanny’s tone when she said "off-stage" had been kind of negative.
"We need willing workers for all aspects of theatre production. For example Marcy here has made herself invaluable assisting Len with direction."
Marcy felt herself glow from this. It was the first direct praise she’d had from Mrs Helberg.
At that moment Revel came onstage, wearing the semi-finished costume for Miss Adelaide’s first scene. "Betty wasn’t sure about the length," she said to Len, giving a twirl.
"It looks fine to me," Len told her. "If you can manage the dance moves comfortably in it, I’m happy."
Brittanny was open-mouthed. Forgetting herself, she said rudely to Revel: "what are you doing here?" She made the "you" sound incredulous.
Revel shot an amused glance at Marcy before turning her attention to Brittanny. Before she could answer, Mrs Helberg spoke for us.
"Revel is one of our leading ladies." Her voice was a little clipped, which Marcy knew meant she was annoyed. Mrs Helberg had taken a dislike to Brittanny.
Brittanny was still stunned. It had been bad enough discovering that Marcy was spending all this after school time with Mr Grayson. Now to find out that ultimate social reject, Revel Holmes, was a part of this was almost too much to take.
"I’d invite you to stay and watch," Len said, "but we have a custom of not allowing previews before the dress rehearsal." It was his way of firmly but politely getting rid of Brittanny.
Being shown the door in front of Marcy and Revel, and not having managed to get a single glimpse of her crush, so infuriated Brittanny that she couldn’t find words. Which made it much easier for Mrs Helberg to escort her out, providing her with a flyer for the show as she did so. They had just arrived from the printer that afternoon.
Marcy and Revel fell about laughing once Brittanny had gone. "Did you see her face?!"
"She’ll be nastier than ever in school tomorrow," Marcy said.
"Let her do her worst. She’s got nothing on either of us," Revel replied.
Gray was relieved that Brittanny had been shown the door. Even with things on hold between him and Marcy, the last thing either of them wanted was Brittanny sniffing around.
"I guess we were right to be careful," Marcy said.
"Yes, things could have gotten dangerously complicated, fast."
They were both trying to act professionally around one another. Fortunately it was more relaxed and friendly than the time when Gray was actively trying to distance himself. Marcy still gloried in every moment she got to spend with him, even if it was platonic for now.
Revel thought the pair of them were being over cautious. "Life’s too short," she said. "I mean I get why you’re doing this, but what’s the worst that could happen?"
The problem was that for Revel, getting kicked out of school wouldn’t be the hugest disaster. She knew what she wanted to do with her life and she would get there regardless. She worked as hard as she needed to, but school was kind of like a casual job for her.
"It’s his entire career though."
"Look at the guy. Why the hell is he burying himself in a high school with his looks and talent? He obviously enjoys acting, he could just try that instead."
But not everyone was so driven towards the stage as Revel was. Even with her talent and heritage it was a precarious career.
"He’s such a great teacher though," Marcy said. "Maybe it’s like a vocation for him."
Marcy could tell that Revel wasn’t convinced but she dropped the subject and asked Marcy about her play instead.
"How is it coming along? Are you nearly finished?"
"I’m getting there." She had had more time to focus on it recently. Whenever she found her thoughts wandering to Gray she snapped herself out of it by writing or editing another scene.
"Have you decided on the ending? A comedy or tragedy?" Revel was genuinely interested.
It was going to be a bit of both. Marcy planned to end it with a sense of hope, but she felt its message would be stronger if it had some grief and loss in it. "Sort of happy, or the potential to be happy."
Which was how she felt about the situation with Gray and her right now. It was sort of okay, and hopefully would be much more than okay if they could survive this next year.