48. The big reveal
There are great days and there are legendary days. And then there are the days that your bitterest enemy - the meanest girl in school who has done everything in her power to make your life a misery - finds out that you have the one thing she wants.
A lesser person might have gloated. But Marcy was so buoyed up with happiness and love for Gray that she even managed to feel sympathy for Brittanny Paige. After all, she was going to look like something of a fool.
Marcy hadn’t been sure how she was going to let it come out at Springdale High that she was now dating their former French teacher. She knew that some girls - out of jealousy - would probably call her a slut. But with just half a year left until they all graduated, who really cared?
She now felt like Revel did about school, that it was simply something to get through and not overly stress about. In the grand course of your entire life, high school was pretty negligible.
As it turned out, Marcy wasn’t the one who told Brittanny. She didn’t have to.
In the short time left for the vacation, before Gray had to leave for New York again, he insisted on spending as much time with Marcy as possible. "I’m not wasting a single moment, god knows we’ve both waited long enough for this."
This included, with a gleam in his eye, suggesting the two of them go for a pizza at the restaurant Minette McCarroll worked at, on the last night before school started.
"Are you sure?" Marcy asked. Minette’s friends often congregated in there as she gave them discounts.
"Nothing to lose," Gray said. "And I feel like pizza."
So strangely nervous, and feeling like This Was It, Marcy accompanied him to the pizza parlour.
Minette was indeed working there that evening and ushered them to a table with a hostile and suspicious glare on her face. "I thought your theatre thing was over?" she said to Marcy.
"It is, for now," Marcy said, ignoring Minette’s obvious curiosity.
She and Gray ordered drinks. They were talking about nothing much in particular, just laughing and enjoying being together, when he brushed a strand of hair back from her face. Then his face fell serious and he leant over and dropped a kiss on Marcy’s lips.
As ever she felt her stomach flip at his touch.
Then there was an almighty crash.
Minette had witnessed the kiss, and had managed to drop an entire tray of drinks.
Marcy wanted to laugh but she felt bad for Minette, and tried to help her pick up some of the tumblers. Fortunately nothing had broken as the pizza place used plastic drink containers, though there were ice cubes and Coke sprayed everywhere.
After that Minette spent the entire evening casting Marcy and Gray sidelong glances, burning to know what was going on. She must be dying to call Brittanny, Marcy thought. How great to be a fly on the wall for that one.
Brittanny didn’t even bother being subtle when she saw Marcy the next morning at school.
She accosted her by the lockers.
"Did you go out with Mr Grayson last night? Don’t deny it, you were seen together."
"Why would I deny it?" Marcy asked.
Brittanny frowned. "Was this something to do with your theatre group?"
"No, just a meal. Rehearsals for the next production don’t start for a couple of weeks."
"So let me get this straight. You were out last night, having a pizza with our French teacher, and he… you…."
"…we what?" Marcy was beginning to enjoy herself.
"Mimi claims she saw…" Brittanny couldn’t bring herself to say it. She was pressing her lips together in a tight line.
"…saw, what? Us sharing a table? Us having a pizza? Us leaving together?" Marcy played dumb. She knew exactly what Brittanny wanted to ask. She could tell that Brittany was dying for it to be a lie.
"Mimi says she saw Mr Grayson kiss you."
Marcy’s nonchalance infuriated Brittanny. "So what the fuck is going on?" she asked.
Marcy decided to ignore this, and was aided in her strategy by the arrival of Revel. "Hey, happy new term. What have we got first period?"
"Chemistry," Marcy told Revel with a groan. "Not a great start to the week."
"No, not really," Revel agreed.
"Excuse me," Brittanny said, trying to push her way back in as Marcy stashed some folders in her locker and closed it. "Marcy and I were having a conversation."
"Were we?" Marcy asked, with an amused glance at Revel.
Revel grinned. "Don’t let me stop you." She made no move to leave.
Gretchen had also come up by that point. "So is it true?" she asked Brittanny. "What Mimi claims she saw?"
Brittanny swore. "I’m trying to talk to Marcy."
"Is this any of your business?" Revel asked Brittanny.
Brittanny’s mouth hung open. She was so used to being queen of Springdale and having knowledge of everything that to be challenged by Revel Holmes was a huge indignity.
"I don’t think it is, is it Brittanny?" Marcy said, and turned her back on the bitchy squad. She and Revel left for class.
"Let her sweat it out until recess," Revel said. "She’ll get madder and madder and it will be more fun."
Revel was crunching an apple and Marcy was enjoying some rare winter sunshine when Brittanny stomped by.
"So what’s going on? Why were you having a meal with Mr Grayson?"
Marcy realised it was time to put Brittanny out of her misery. "Gray and I were on a date."
"Gray?! A date?! What the hell, he’s our teacher!"
"Not any more," Revel interrupted. "He’s quit."
"Quit?" Brittanny was horrified and furious at this. She still had her own massive crush on their French teacher.
"Yes, he’s going to New York to act," Revel told her. "He got a role on Broadway."
This was a slight exaggeration, Marcy thought, since the production was off-Broadway. But it more or less amounted to the same thing. Besides, she was sure that Gray’s star was going to climb. Revel and her producer friend were both convinced of it.
"What’s that got to do with Marcy?" Brittanny asked.
Revel rolled her eyes. "You’re a bit slow on the uptake, aren’t you? Marcy and Gray - Mr Grayson to you - are dating. And have been for some time."
"Is this true?" Brittanny demanded.
Marcy was feeling a little bit sorry for Brittanny. She was making such an idiot of herself, storming about and getting angry at something that truly didn’t concern her at all.
"Yes, it’s true," she said. "We couldn’t date while he was still at Springdale - " she crossed her fingers behind her back given this was something of an untruth " - but now he’s quit we can do what we like."
"I suppose this getting cosy all happened at your stupid theatre group?"
"The stupid theatre group you wanted to join," Revel reminded her.
Brittanny refused to respond to this and continued her attack on Marcy. "So it wasn’t about acting at all, it was about sucking up to Mr Grayson?"
"Actually if you must know, Gray and I became friends last vacation. Long before theatre group, and before he even started teaching at Springdale."
Brittanny was losing and losing. She tried one last threat. "Do your parents know?"
"Yes. They like him. He came around for dinner the other night."
"I just can’t believe this," Brittanny was saying. "It makes absolutely no sense at all. I’m only humouring you that I believe you because of what Mimi says she saw. I can’t imagine why he would even look twice at someone like you."
Revel finished her apple. "Believe what you like, Brittanny, as I said earlier it isn’t really any of your business, is it?" She got up and left for the water cooler, leaving Marcy alone with Brittanny.
Marcy tried to be nice. "You know, Brittanny, there’s only a few months of high school left. All this bitching and cliqueiness that you put on, what’s the point? Why don’t you just drop it and try to be pleasant? You have nothing to gain by being like you’re being, whether you believe me or not. Gray - Mr Grayson - is no longer at Springdale, he is moving to New York, and we are dating. If you want to convince yourself that’s a lie and insult me, that’s up to you."
Then she got up herself and headed back to the next period.
Whatever happened with Brittanny now, Marcy had won, though she’d never really wanted a battle in the first place. She was genuinely sad that their final year of high school had to contain so much spite and bitterness.
But still, it all paled into insignificance when she thought of Gray. And not forgetting her wonderful friendships with Revel and Addy.
Really, life couldn’t be better. A few months ago Marcy felt like her world was ending, and now everything was just beginning.