8. A huge shock
Nothing, absolutely nothing, could have prepared Marcy for the horrors of that first day of school.
She was expecting things to be bad enough with the whole Josh, Gretchen and Brittany thing.
What she wasn’t expecting was complete social ostracism.
The day started with science, and Marcy ended up being five minutes late because she had to pick up a form from the principal’s office. By the time she arrived back in class there was only one seat left, by a geeky guy she didn’t know that well, so she didn’t really notice any cold-shouldering from her usual crowd. Geek guy was a great lab partner so that kind of went okay.
As it turned out she didn’t have many classes with Brittany and Josh. Or the dreaded cousin Gretchen. So it wasn’t until lunchtime that she got the biggest shock. Or what she thought would be the biggest shock in store for her that day.
Taking her tray over to join her regular table, she noticed a girl with dark blonde hair sitting between Josh and Brittanny. She looked a bit like Brittany, a bit proud. Supercilious was the word. Marcy guessed she must be Gretchen.
She truly wasn’t that pretty, Marcy thought. Even putting aside her obvious bias, Gretchen wasn’t the ravishing glamour queen that Marcy had feared. She was more Brittany-lite, a bit less blonde, quite a bit less attractive. Addy had been right about why Brittanny would have been comfortable with one of her male friends dating her cousin. Push come to shove, she was no real competition.
Brittanny pursed her lips as Marcy went to sit down, opposite and a few seats along. The other people around her seemed oddly on edge and not welcoming.
"Actually Marcy, it’s probably best if you don’t sit with us any more. It’s really awkward for Josh. I’m sure you understand."
And just like that, Marcy was out in the cold. Addy would have had her back, but she was thousands of miles away.
She got about one semi-sympathetic look from one girl which quickly froze when Brittanny glared at her. Gretchen was looking smug and Josh had the grace to look slightly embarrassed.
Marcy felt as though she had been thrown into a cold wind. She picked her tray back up, turned and walked away. There was nothing to be said.
There was also nowhere to sit. The only table left with seniors on it was taken up by some awkward nerds and the school weird girl, a drop out with the bizarre name of Revel. Marcy never knew whether she was supposed to look Goth or emo or whatever, but no one really spoke to her. She had piercings and at least one tattoo, and kept herself to herself.
Revel looked up as Marcy passed by, hoping to find a space somewhere.
"You can sit here."
The offer was all wrong and weird. Revel giving her permission to sit at the outcasts’ table. Marcy was supposed to be one of the in crowd, she should have been the one deigning to let Revel join her.
But the world had changed that day, and she felt so isolated right now that she no longer cared that she was committing social suicide by sitting there.
"One year," Revel said. "One year and you’ll never have to see any of them ever again."
Marcy both resented Revel for commenting on her life, while also feeling a flash of gratitude. It left her conflicted, so she said nothing. She also realised that people had clearly been talking and bitching about her behind her back and Revel must have picked up on it. Probably everyone had.
What had she done to deserve this? All she had done was date someone, and Brittanny had never given her the slightest indication that she minded.
Thinking this also made Marcy feel angry. What right did Brittanny have to mind? Or to interfere, and set Josh up with her hateful cousin. She couldn’t bring herself to look over at Brittanny’s table as she felt sure they would all be sneering at her.
She ate her food, feeling numb.
The rest of the day was pretty miserable. She was ignored by all the usual crowd and she ended up sitting by people she didn’t know that well. It felt like starting a new school except this was her school, dammit. She was supposed to be having the best year of her life, her last year, and it looked like months of social ostracism stretched out before her.
If only Addy’s mom would decide she hated New York, or was too homesick for Springdale to stay there. Marcy felt like everything would be okay again if only Addy was back. School was such a hostile, horrible place when you had no allies. And until now, she’d never realised how precarious popularity could be.
The last class of the day was French. She got there early, because it was better having some nerd choose to sit by her than being blocked from every seat except nerd-seats herself.
Miserably she stared down at her textbooks while everyone else filed in around her. She didn’t want to catch any more sneering eyes. Why were people so mean? Brittanny had got what she wanted, hadn’t she? Her cousin welcomed into the cosy fold and provided with a Brittanny-approved girlfriend.
Finally everyone was settled and their new French teacher came in through the door. Marcy knew it was someone new, because Mrs Vansittart, or "Madame Vansittart" as she liked to be called, had left at the end of the previous year to have a baby.
"Good afternoon, class. My name is Mr Grayson."
Marcy, who had only been half paying attention, flicked her eyes up fully on hearing his voice.
It couldn’t be.
"I’ll be taking over from Mrs Vansittart this year - "
It was him. Gray. There was no mistaking it. Not even if he had an identical twin.
" - since she’s left to have a baby."
What the hell was he doing here?
What should she do?
She actually wanted to be sick. Any second now he was going to see her.
His eyes were travelling around the room as he spoke… and finally he saw her.
Gray started, momentarily. Probably no one else would notice but Marcy did.
He immediately looked away and continued, but seconds later caught her eye again briefly, as in disbelief.
She could read shock there, fury. Fear.
Marcy couldn’t move. She was stricken.
All she knew was that she had to get out of there.
Feeling like a robot she managed to get to her feet, mumble something about needing the restroom, and stumble out.
In the cool of the girls’ bathroom Marcy went and locked herself into a cubicle. Finally it was all too much. The day had turned from a nightmare into some kind of hell farce.
She covered her face with her hands and wept. Not caring if she smudged her make up, or got into trouble for running out of class. She just wanted to be away from it all. She honestly couldn’t face any of them ever again.
She couldn’t stop thinking about Gray’s face. The horror on it. She replayed it over and over again in her mind. The guy she was crazy about was her teacher? This kind of thing just didn’t happen. She had lost her virginity to her teacher. It was impossible to process.
Marcy didn’t know how long she had sat there for when she heard a voice above her. "Want to get out of here?"
She looked up. Revel was leaning over the top of her cubicle.
Normally Marcy’s reaction to cubicle invasion would have been to freak out and tell the person to get lost. But then she wasn’t actually using the facilities at present.
Getting out of school seemed like the sweetest thing in the world.
"Don’t you have class?" Marcy asked.
"I cut early. I have a shoot to get to. You should hurry, they’ll all be out in a few minutes," Revel said.
Marcy wasted no time. She got her things as they went past her locker and she fled, of all people, with Revel Holmes. Any port in a storm. All she wanted was to be shot of Springdale High and never have to return.