French Kissing

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9. The shoot

As they walked out of the school gates, Marcy wondered what Revel had meant by a shoot? Did she do target practice?

She knew Revel didn’t drive. Or didn’t drive to school, anyway. She had no idea where she lived. Ordinarily Marcy would have offered her a lift out of politeness, but her car was still being fixed.

"I don’t have my car here," she said as they crossed the parking lot.

"Yeah, I heard."

Was there any woe or misery from Marcy’s life which hadn’t made the school grapevine? She said nothing.

Revel looked at her. "You can come if you want," she said.

"Come where?"

"The shoot."

The weird thing was that it was as though Revel was extending Marcy a privilege. This term was so switched around. Normally someone like Revel was expected to be bent over with gratitude if someone like Brittanny or her set even acknowledged her.

But come to think of it, Marcy considered, Revel never had played Brittanny’s game. She’d always remained kind of aloof. Which made her particularly weird, at high school. You had to have a group. Even if they were geeks or nerds or Christians.

Images of Gray were still going round and round her head. If nothing else, it eclipsed Brittanny and her petty spite. This was huge.

She walked alongside Revel for several blocks before they got to a part of town with some smaller shops and businesses. It was a beautiful September afternoon but Marcy barely noticed.

Revel stopped at an art shop that Marcy had only ever seen the outside of, and entered, with Marcy following. Behind the counter was a guy with untidy hair and a close cropped beard.

"Hey." He clearly knew who Revel was, didn’t make any remark when she went through the back and up some stairs signposted Staff Only.

Upstairs was crammed with art supplies, from rolls of paper to old easels. New ones as well, flat packed. One corner of the room held a photography studio. There was a weird, chemical odour that was unfamiliar to Marcy.

"Hi Nick." Revel greeted a man who was adjusting some lights, evidently the photographer.

A photographic shoot. Marcy still didn’t have much of a clue what was going on, but this was more interesting than a rifle range.

"Nearly ready, babe."

"Okay, I just need five." Revel put her backpack down and went around the back of some easels. Marcy stood there, awkwardly. The Nick guy didn’t say anything to her, he was now busy fiddling with his camera gear. Adjusting a tripod or something.

Revel called out from her hiding place. "That’s Marcy by the way. She’s at Springdale too."

"Hey Marcy." The guy didn’t look up from his work.

"Hey." She felt more and more awkward. Yet these people didn’t seem to mind her presence.

Revel eventually emerged with her hair down and a flimsy robe around her. Oh God, was she naked under there? Fortunately Marcy realised Rebel clearly had pants on, and shoes. Tight black leggings.

When Nick finally stood back and switched the lights on, Revel slipped off the robe to reveal a kind of bra top. It wasn’t overly revealing, just cropped. Like a short corset, perhaps.

Marcy watched, fascinated, as Revel posed for Nick. The school weirdo was completely transformed in her eyes. Revel was clearly used to modelling, and she actually looked like a real model. Not like the skinny types you saw on the catwalks, though she was thin, but the kind you saw in art shows. This was obviously some kind of art shoot, nothing creepy or sleazy.

Marcy just found it hard to reconcile her notion of the weird, antisocial Revel with this cool model girl.

Revel turned this way and that, occasionally cracking a joke while Nick photographed her from different angles. When they’d finally finished he turned to Marcy. "You want some pictures taken?"

Revel gave a laugh. "Yeah, why don’t you? Nick’s amazing."

Marcy hesitated. Both because she really wasn’t the photogenic type, and because she wasn’t sure if she might have to pay him, and if so how expensive that might be. She was trying to save up her money for various things at the moment.

"It’s very kind - " she hesitated.

"It’s just for fun. You’re doing Nick a favour," Revel told her. "New face for a change."

Embarrassed, Marcy slid onto the stool that was currently positioned in front of the photographic screen. Was she supposed to smile? Pout?

"Just look at me here," Nick said. Marcy did so, and he took several snaps before she’d had the time to decide what to do with her face. "Now look over there. Turn towards the door." He took a couple more and they were done.

They would look awful, Marcy thought. She would look like a scared rabbit.

Revel farewelled Nick and the guy downstairs in the shop as they exited. "I need a drink." Instead of going to one of the cafés where everyone else went, Revel went into a bar. It was one that Marcy hadn’t been in before, but fortunately they didn’t seem to check ID at this time of day.

The way things were going Marcy wouldn’t have been surprised if Revel ordered hard liquor and drank it from the bottle, so she was more surprised when Revel just ordered a coke. They could have got that in the café. Marcy got one too, and then was surprised that she didn’t have to pay.

"It’s okay, I work here," Revel told her. Then seeing Marcy’s confusion she explained. "Not behind the bar obviously. I sing here sometimes. You don’t need to be of age for that."

Revel modelled and sang? It was so much to take in that Marcy’s mind was almost distracted from her stress over Gray. Then as soon as she realised this, she started thinking about him all over again.

Revel saw her shoulders slump. "Shitty day, hey?"

"Yeah." You don’t know the half of it, Marcy thought.

"One more year, we’ll be through with it."

Marcy was starting to realise that Revel actually didn’t care what people thought about her, or the way they disregarded her. She had always assumed Revel minded being cold shouldered all the time. She and Addy would have been mortified not to have any friends - well, Marcy was mortified now.

But Revel was just biding her time apparently. Making no effort to fit in.

"So what you do you sing?" Marcy asked.

"Jazz mainly. Here anyway. Some musical theatre."

"I didn’t know you sang." She didn’t know anything about Revel, truth be told.

"Since I was a kid. It’s in the blood," Revel told her.

Given she was actually holding her first ever conversation with Revel in two years, or however long it was since Revel moved here, Marcy decided to ask her about something she had burned with curiosity over.

"How did you get your name?"

Revel was unruffled by the question. "It’s my middle name. My mother was enamoured of some book character called Virginia Revel, partly as it was her own name. But I’m not really a Virginia."

She wasn’t, Marcy had to admit. "What do your parents do?"

"Not much. They’re dead."

Marcy was mortified. She started to apologise.

"It’s okay. It was years ago. I was pretty small. A plane crash. I live with my grandmother. That’s why I’m here, not in New York."

Marcy got the sense that Revel had given this summary a few times, to avoid further questions. But something was ticking in her mind. Music being in the family. Virginia. A plane crash. New York. She studied Revel’s face more closely, trying to see if she could recognise a likeness.

"Your mother wasn’t Virginia Lake was she?" And then felt completely stupid for asking. Virginia Lake had been a huge Broadway star, killed in a light aircraft crash at the peak of her career. Marcy’s parents had some of her records and Marcy had seen old clips of her on TV. Everyone would have known if she was Revel’s mother, surely.

But Revel’s eyebrows shot up. "You’ve heard of her?"

"Of course. She was incredible. I’m so sorry for what happened," Marcy said.

"Most people haven’t heard of her these days."

Marcy suspected the issue was more that Revel had never mentioned her famous parentage for anyone to comment on. "Theatre is kind of a thing for me, it’s what I want to do one day. Write plays that is, not perform," she said hurriedly.

"Great. I look forward to starring in your first production," Revel said.

Marcy couldn’t tell if she was mocking her or not. Revel actually seemed sincere. "You plan to follow in your mom’s footsteps?"

"That’s the plan. If I can get into Juilliard."

Just one year. One more year of this high school hell, and then all their dreams could come true.

Except Marcy had a dream she wanted now, and it had just been snatched from her grasp.

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