French Kissing

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42. End of term

For the rest of term Marcy buried herself in schoolwork and finishing off her play. The experience on stage and off during her time with the Springdale Players had been invaluable.

She had a much better idea now of how it should all fit together, and what would actually work in a performance and what might not.

Plus she had all the inspiration she needed - and more - for the love scenes. Rapunzel, or the character based on her, had become a living, breathing person. And as for the Prince, who Marcy had chosen not to name… well there was only one face that came to mind when she envisaged him.

As she wrote it, Marcy couldn’t help remembering Revel’s suggestion to do a musical version. Revel hadn’t read it, of course, and initially Marcy had thought it could never work. But now as the scenes came to life in her mind and on the page, she could see where songs might fit in.

It would be a very different kind of show to the play she had imagined, and she certainly couldn’t imagine lavishly choreographed whole cast numbers as in Guys and Dolls, but still. She already found herself writing lyrics for a ballad called "Song of the Tower".

"Are you still busy with your assignment?" Her mother was calling up to her. Marcy had got carried away writing and had been shut in her room for hours. It was already dinner time.

"I’m done, it’s all good," Marcy called back. She saved the file and came downstairs.

Things with Gray were the same as ever. She had got used to the weird limbo of not-being with him, and waiting and hoping that there might be a chance again when school was finally over.

For his part he was very professional: friendly without singling her out, which made her look forward all the more to Mrs Helberg’s next production when she might get to spend time with him in a more relaxed setting.

Sometimes she sat in class and marvelled that she had ever been with him. How all the other students had absolutely no clue that until a few weeks ago, she had been sleeping with their French teacher. Brittanny would implode with the knowledge, she thought.

Coming into the kitchen she discovered that Mrs Helberg was there.

"Cora’s popped round for supper. Barry has an event at his club tonight," her mother said, referring to Mrs Helberg’s husband. He was a pleasant man but worked long hours in the city and didn’t share his wife’s theatrical passion, so Marcy didn’t much of him.

Marcy’s father came in and they began the meal. As usual Mrs Helberg was full of conversation about this and that. She was so sociable, it must have been a bit of a drag having a husband who wasn’t.

"You’ll be joining us again next year, I hope Marcy?"

Marcy had expected this. She knew there was no escape, but she didn’t mind.

"I’d be happy to. I really enjoyed being a part of things." This was true. Even without Gray being there, it would have been an interesting and rewarding experience.

"Len may take an acting role next time, so we may need more of your assistance with directing," Mrs Helberg said. "Though of course you may wish to act as well? After such a commendable performance understudying Sarah. I do thank you for that, dear, it got us all out of a difficult situation."

"I was happy to help," Marcy said. "But I’d love to take on more directing work, if that’s possible."

"By all means. Our next task, of course, is to get your mother involved. There’s always room for more."

Thankfully for Marcy her mother remained resolute against joining the Springdale Players. "I’m afraid I have so much on, Cora." Marcy really couldn’t trust her mother being around her and Gray every week and not guessing that something was up. If Gray was going to be there of course.

Marcy fished. "Will most other people be back next year?"

"But of course! I already have roles in mind for our new young people, all three of them should be available," Mrs Helberg told Marcy, to her joy.

The last week came all too soon. Not for everyone else: all the other students couldn’t wait for the vacation. But it was a mixed joy for Marcy. There was the trip to New York to look forward to and she was excited to see Addy.

"I’ve got the whole week planned out," Addy told her. "Every hour of every day is packed with all the things that you absolutely have to do in New York."

Marcy knew from long experience that Addy’s plans would disintegrate from the get-go. She never stuck to a plan. The mood to do something totally different would grab her, and she would immediately switch what she was doing. You never got bored with Addy, that was for sure.

Revel and Marcy also planned to hang out over the Christmas break. Revel had seemed a little distant, Marcy thought, since the show. Not unfriendly, just maybe preoccupied in her work. After all it had been a big commitment, so like Marcy she possibly had some neglected assignments to catch up on.

She barely noticed Brittanny and her bitchy squad. It was as though they barely registered any more. Josh avoided her, his aggressive ardour had turned to a mix of embarrassment and resentment.

All in all it was a peaceful close to the semester. Marcy had also printed off her now-completed play, and after wrestling with some self doubt, gave it to Revel to read.

"Thanks, I’ll start reading it tonight," Revel said.

"Really you don’t have to. Just skim through if you want, Whenever you have time."

Revel laughed. "You’re not really selling yourself, are you?"

"It’s hard as I have no idea if it works or not. I mean I can see it in my head, but I don’t know if I’ve translated that to the page, if you get me," Marcy said.

"If you haven’t, you can always tweak it. I’m sure it’s great."

Handing over the script to Revel felt a bit like handing over her baby. But Marcy had to be brave. If it really was terrible, she may as well be told so now.

Marcy had to say goodbye to Mr Grayson in the last French lesson. She lingered behind when her classmates left.

"I just wanted to say goodbye and happy holidays. And an early Merry Christmas," she told him.

"You too. I’ve really enjoyed having you in my French class," Mr Grayson said.

She couldn’t stop herself. "Just your French class?"

He looked at her, and she could see the amusement in his eyes.

"And in theatre group as well."

He wasn’t going to budge. This would have to do. But maybe she should try one last time.

"I didn’t manage to bring you a present. So do you want a Christmas kiss instead?"

She could see the heat in his gaze at her words. For a moment he swayed towards her, and she was certain his lips would come down on hers, soft and sensuous, then firm and demanding as always.

"You know that I do, Marcy," Mr Grayson said, his voice lowered. "God only knows how much. But you also know that we are not going to cross that line, let alone on school grounds."

At least she had tried. And at least she knew he still felt the same. Right now she felt she couldn’t care less if the whole of the staff of Springdale walked on them. Indeed it would actually be joyful to see Brittanny Paige’s reaction to her making out with their French teacher.

But that was not the way to win this.

"I hope you have a happy Christmas anyway," she said, smiled at him and left.

She heard him say her name under his breath as she left - "Marcy…" - but she didn’t turn around. If he could display such exceptional self-control, so could she.

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