43. New York
New York at Christmas time: the most magical place in the world. Marcy had secretly been hoping for snow and the heavens answered her prayers, with thick white flakes falling as she and her parents landed at JFK.
Everywhere sparkled with Christmas lights, the shop windows glowed with presents, everywhere seemed to be red and gold and garlanded with fragrant pine leaves. Even the plastic foliage seemed to have the aroma of Christmas trees.
As promised, Marcy and her parents took in a show on Broadway. It felt like coming home. This is absolutely where I want to be, Marcy thought. This is my future. One day I’m going to sit here and watch famous actors bring my own script to life.
The leading lady had a slight look of Revel about her, though Marcy personally thought that Revel, even if less experienced, was even more talented. She found her mother shared her opinion.
"I do think your friend Revel has a very bright future ahead of her," she said. "She’s quite as good as any of the professional performers here. The young man who teaches you French as well, it surprises me he didn’t choose a career on stage. All that talent in Springdale! No wonder Cora Helberg is over the moon."
The next day they shopped and had lunch with Addy and her mother. Even though Marcy and Addy Skyped or texted pretty much daily, they were still ecstatic to see one another. They had so much to share. Addy was desperate to know all the gory details about Marcy and Mr Grayson, which she felt Marcy had been reticent sharing over the internet.
They walked down Fifth Avenue while their mothers stopped for coffee, laden down with festive purchases. The nearby boutiques had price tags several zeroes too expensive for their budgets. "I can’t believe you live here," Marcy said. "Just imagine if we could actually afford to buy all this stuff. It’s so exactly like Sex in the City."
"It would be, if I was getting any," Addy said. "Unlike you."
"I’m not either. It’s all over, remember," Marcy said, referring to her and Mr Grayson.
"On hold. That’s not over."
Marcy desperately hoped so, but anything could happen between now and the next term, let alone now and the end of school next summer. She was particularly anxious about New Year’s Eve as people always seemed to end up kissing and falling in love with strangers then. What if some beautiful woman happened to target Mr Grayson?
There was something a bit strange about Addy in New York, Marcy felt. From time to time got the sense that Addy was hiding something from her. But what?
"Is there something not telling me?" she asked her.
"No, why?" Addy was the world’s worst liar and looked defensive.
So there was something. "You know you can tell me anything," Marcy said.
Addy shrugged. "It’s nothing. Honestly."
"I mean it. Like if you got pregnant, you know I’m always here for you."
Addy burst into shocked laughter. "I love how that’s what you imagine I must be getting up to! I did take Biology you know."
"And you got the lowest grade of all your classes."
"That’s because I had the worst lab partner," Addy said.
Marcy was mock indignant. "I was your lab partner."
"I know. It was your job to keep me from being distracted by Cody Marsh. And you failed, every class. What’s he up to these days?"
"Still playing football, still a moron. Still dating Minette McCarroll."
Addy made a mock vomiting noise. "I seriously can’t wait until we finally get to college. Honestly the guys in my New York high school are barely any better. I think I’ve outgrown them. I need an older guy, like you have."
"I don’t have one at all. Not any more," Marcy told her.
"Yeah, well you never know what the future holds," Addy said. Marcy assumed she was imagining getting hit on by hot seniors at college. Or even hitting up hot professors herself. She would have too keep an eye on Addy if they both ended up at NYU.
Marcy’s parents flew home the next day, while she stayed behind to spend the week with Addy. As expected Addy’s precision organised, activity packed timetable rapidly disintegrated, though they tried to do the main things on her list. Such as the Empire State Building and the Statue of Liberty. Marcy felt like a total tourist but it was fun seeing America’s icons.
They met up with some of Addy’s new friends in New York who seemed like nice people. They weren’t quite as intimidatingly Gossip Girl as Marcy had feared.
One of the guys was clearly interested in Marcy but while he was attractive, she just didn’t return his regard.
Towards the end of the week there was a Christmas party at someone’s house. Addy was making a big deal out of going, and Marcy got the impression there was a guy she liked there. She still felt Addy was being a little secretive.
Addy had received a couple of mobile calls allegedly from her mother, but she had seemed oddly abrupt when speaking. Plus there was a text message that she had immediately deleted.
Marcy would never have gone through her friend’s phone, but she was a little sad that Addy couldn’t confide in her. There was obviously something going on with her love life or this mystery guy she liked.
They were watching TV when it suddenly struck Marcy that maybe Addy wasn’t seeing a guy after all. Maybe it was something quite different. She was pretty sure that Addy wasn’t seeing a married man or similar, because she was sure she would have confessed it. After all, it was about the same level as dating your teacher, in terms of being forbidden. And at least you couldn’t go to jail for adultery.
That meant it had to be something quite different.
The other thing.
And if so, Marcy really wasn’t sure how to broach it.
"Addy, you know that I would be totally cool if you, you know…"
"I mean if you were ever to tell me that you were… you know what I mean," Marcy said. She was making a real mess of this.
"I honestly have no idea what you mean."
How to phrase this? She changed tactic. "Emilie, that Canadian girl in my AP French class, turned out to be really cool."
"Oh?" Addy stuffed a handful of popcorn into her mouth. She didn’t seem hugely interested.
"Brittanny was always very mean to her of course, because you know… But that really doesn’t matter. I mean it doesn’t change who she is."
"Who she is? Who is she, then?"
Marcy didn’t feel like she was making any progress.
"You know, that she doesn’t date guys. I mean she’s still really nice. It makes no difference."
Addy turned to her, frowning. "Marcy, why are we having this totally random conversation about Emilie the lesbian? Is there something you want to tell me?"
"No! I thought maybe there was something you wanted to tell me," Marcy said.
Light was dawning. "You mean you think I’m struggling to come out and tell you I’m gay?" Addy said. She started laughing.
"So you’re not then?" Marcy asked.
"God no. I mean life would be a hell of a lot simpler if I never again had to deal with guys in that way, but I can’t change my wiring. Why on earth did you suddenly think I was a lesbian? Is it because my aunt’s gay?" Addy clearly found it hilarious.
Marcy was really embarrassed now. She was glad Addy saw the funny side, but she was still no closer to solving the mystery. If there was one. Maybe she was just being really paranoid?
"I don’t know. I just worried that if you were, you couldn’t confide in me."
"Well, I’m not. However I did once look at a picture of Angelina Jolie, and decide that if I ever had to be, I’d probably go for her. Is that confession enough? And if you want more, I had a crush on that Mexican guy who was my chemistry lab partner last year, before I realised he was gay. And finally, I kissed Jayden Price - or rather he kissed me but I didn’t stop him - at the Easter fair."
Marcy was shocked by nearly all of this. "I can’t believe you never told me any of this. And does Brittanny know? And how did you not know Ricardo was gay? He had a photo of his boyfriend in his locker all year."
"You’re hardly one to talk about gaydar, practically casting me on The L Word," Addy said. "And no, Brittanny didn’t know, but I’m totally happy for you to tell her sometime. So long as you record her reaction on your phone when you do so."