|Empty Chairs And White Roses, Part One|
|Season 1, Episode 6|
|Air date||16th February 2013|
|Written by||Jack- gleelover|
We Are Shining
We Will Stand Tall for the People Like Us, Part Two
Empty Chairs And White Roses, Part One is the first half of episode six of Glee: Paint The Sky. Writing for this episode began January 28th, 2013 and finished on 15th February, 2013.
In light of Spencer & Courtney's betrayal and Melinda's absence, the group decide to perform a number to drum in new members for the club, attracting the wrong attention from Courtney in the process while Elliot makes the club's first assignment - 'Vulnerability'. Several couples bond over this as Marc helps Mary Lou conquer her own vulnerability while Parrish and Dana open up to each other, sharing an intimate moment. Meanwhile, Melinda soon has to face up to a possibly serious condition and Aurora's mother reveals a pleasant surprise to her.
- Dan Carter as Elliot Morgan
- Juliet Simms as Devonne Stern
- Alexa Vega as Aurora Everly
- Hayden Panettiere as Beth Everly
- Marissa Von Bleicken as Melinda Hagan
- Jane Randall as Kitty Cole
- Marlon Teixeira as Parrish Lockhart
- Alexander Ludwig as Walker Parker
- Alyson Michalka as Spencer Carlisle
(Danielle Fishel and Abraham Lim absent)
- Katerina Martinovska as Mary Lou
- Vanessa White as Dana Arson
- Debby Ryan as Jessica Freedman
- Logan Lerman as Arrow Duke
- Leighton Meester as Courtney Wintour
- Kendall Jenner as Roselyn Chance
- Evan Rachel Wood as Freya Dyson
- Jena Malone as Lone Valentine
- Keegan Connor Tracey as Demetria Stern
- Jessica Lange as Claire Stern
- Annette Benning as Principal Jane Jones
|Song Title||Original Artist/s||Performers|
|I Don't Feel Like Dancin'/Remedy||The Scissor Sisters/Little Boots||Kitty Cole, Jessica Freedman and Mary Lou|
with Star Dominion
|I Believe I Can Fly †||R. Kelly||Parrish Lockhart|
|Applause||From Applause||Jessica Freedman|
|Colors||Kira Willey||Marc St. Pierre and Mary Lou|
|Be Yourself||Audioslave||Dana Arson and Parrish Lockhart|
† denotes an unreleased song.
Devonne waved bye to her friend, Kitty, and stepped out into a winter wonderland. She pulled her coat collar snugly around her neck and put on her wholly mittens and began her arduous walk back home, the soft, fresh snow crunched underneath her feet with a delicious sound.
She hummed and jiggled to the music coming from her headphones and occasionally sang the lyrics to P!nk’s “So What,” sometimes she kicked up the snow as she trudged up the silent road.
She couldn’t help feeling a little peeved that she hadn’t received the new iPod Nano (seventh generation), the one with goddamn Bluetooth. She had dropped more than a few hints of what she wanted to find under the Christmas tree but she didn’t know that Demetria had decided against it all after Claire had told her she had indulged her with way too many gadgets.
“Damn,” she said in her head. “I wasted so much time, googling page after page in search of the perfect colour but hey, I suppose I should be grateful for my oh so cheery evanescence collection,” she thought with sarcasm.
At last, she reached home, her legs were seriously aching and she hoped her Gran had made something scrumptious for tea.
“That’s strange,” she said aloud, “The door’s locked.” She whipped off one of her mitts and delved into her pocket to retrieve the house key.
Devonne stepped inside, put on the hallway light and discarded her cold, damp coat before flirting off her boots.
She glanced into the living room but there was no sign of her Gran so she ran upstairs to see if her stepmother was here and if she was, she’d most likely be in her room.
She walked across the landing, past the large imposing pictures and danced frivolously to the catchy pop song, upon entering Demetria’s room, unfortunately without knocking and at the same time, removing her earplugs.
She stopped dead in her tracks and gasped audibly before dropping her iPod to the deep piled carpet.
“MY GOD,” She rasped. “How could you Demetria?” Her eyes bored into her stepmother and the boy lying beside her in the bed.
A flustered Demetria sprang from the bed, chucking her dressing gown on as she quickly ran to Devonne.
“I’m sorry,” she said quietly, “I wasn’t expecting you home so soon.”
“Oh that’s obvious,” she cried angrily. “How could you do this again? I thought you’d changed and with MATT BELL, he’s from my Biology class.” She couldn’t believe what she was seeing and she backed up out of the room, onto the landing.
Demetria rushed after her, she had to put things right. She didn’t want to fall out with her stepdaughter anymore; things have been so much easier between them, of late.
She managed to grab Devonne’s hands, muttering, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. I promise, it’ll never happen again.”
Devonne looked at her step- mom with teary eyes, “So I guess this is my karmic punishment for not hanging out with Kitty for an extra hour like she had wanted. I’m sick of having visions of you, Lady Tremaine, being pile drived. A young girl like me shouldn’t see those types of things, not yet. I thought you had changed but I-I just can’t fathom you out and it sickens me that you were in my dad’s bed of all places with that boy.”
She tried to pull away from her; she wanted to hide away in her bedroom.
“Devonne, STOP, PLEASE WAIT.” Demetria pleaded, “Please let me apologise properly.”
Devonne didn’t turn around but called back to her, “Demetria, Cougars live at the Rockies, not suburban neighbourhoods and no, I don’t wanna listen to your plentiful excuses anymore. Just get rid of him before I bloody his nose.” She added before closing and locking the door to her room, finally blocking her stepmother
The morning after.
Devonne was washing down her breakfast with a glass of freshly squeezed orange juice, slouched over the kitchen table.
As her stepmother entered the room, her grandmother called a cheerful “Good Morning” to her. “There’s fresh tea in the pot and uh, I’ve got to dash. See you later,” Claire added whilst putting on her warm fur lined padded coat and rushing out the door.
Demetria plopped down, opposite Devonne and drawing in a deep breath, she began, “Devonne, I can’t keep saying how sorry I am but I swear, I will promise to do better.”
Devonne looked back at her and shrugged her shoulders, replying, “I too, am sorry, I overreacted. I understand that things aren’t going to be perfect, straight away but we need to move forward, don’t we? If we are going to improve our relationship so I guess you’re off the hook”
Demetria smiled gratefully while she poured milk onto her cereal.
“Devonne, I’m so glad, you have forgiven me. For one minute, last night, you reminded me so much of your dad, I thought he could hold a frown but you proved to me otherwise. You made me realise how selfish and despicable I can be and I do understand that I haven’t given you the time you craved or the fun and laughter you deserve and I know now, that apart from your Grandma, you’re the only other piece of your father I have left on this Earth and I want to hang on too you both.”
Devonne felt quite choked up by Demetria’s admission.
Reaching out for her stepmother’s hand, she spoke softly, saying, “With my father and mother gone, you’re the one person left to love me along with Gran and I want you to know, I love you, not because I have to or need to but because I want too and it comforts me to know it is reciprocated.”
Demetria wiped a lone tear from her eye as she tucked into her crackling cereal, she felt slightly drained from this conversation but a huge relief washed over her.
Devonne got up to leave the table while Demetria’s thoughts recalled to the angry scene of the previous night. “What a silly fool I had been,” she pondered. “But at least something good has come out of it, it’s making me and Devonne more open and honest which can only be a good thing.”
Devonne, at the top of the embankment, took off her overlarge trench coat, spreading it on the grass, which was sprinkled with snow.
She giggled to herself as she wondered what anyone would make off this scene but she wasn’t doing it for the attention it might draw; she just adored the crisp air of the cold January days.
She was just about to sit down, on her coat and catch up with her latest essay on Dance Theory when her phone vibrated in her jean pocket; she answered it on the second ring.
“Hi, Devonne.” Kitty’s voice trilled in her ear. “Do you want me to swing by your phone and we can trudge to school together?” she added, laughing infectiously to her friend.
Devonne hesitated for a moment as she stood one hand to her ear and the other resting on her hip. Her eyes widened, taking in the beautiful wintry landscape laid out in front of her.
“Uh, actually, Kitty,” she answered apologetically, “I’m already here, I awoke early and couldn’t get back to sleep so I’m making the most of the solitude. It’s a totally different atmosphere, being here alone.”
“You’re so strange,” Kitty chirped back. “I’ll catch you later then, if I can get these beautiful snow boots on, that is.”
Devonne hung up and popped her phone back into her pocket.
She smiled when thinking about Kitty and how much she wanted to help her find the happiness she rightfully deserved.
“Drat, that girl, Dana. I’m going to have to up my game if I’m going to stop her from getting her claws into Parrish. She’s so dam flirty and much too good-looking for her own good. She reminds me of someone but I’ll be damned, if I know who,” her thoughts ran crazily in her mind
“And God knows why Kitty finds Parrish so attractive. He struts around like a sex god even though he doesn’t know he is… unless that’s what he wants us to think,” she thought, screwing up her face.
“No matter how much I dislike him and those eyebrows, they’re so scary but if he makes Kitty happy and whole, then who am I to stand in the path of true love?”
She glanced down at her coat and began to lean down towards it but suddenly; she was hurtling down the bank when a hand thumped into her back, causing her to lose her balance.
She lay in a crumpled heap with the breath knocked out of her body. She blinked rapidly as she tried to make sense of what happened.
Devonne’s eyes rested on two girls who were at the top of the hill, laughing at her with malicious glee.
“Oh, it looks like, you’ve had an accident.” The blonde girl shouted down at her sarcastically.
The other small dark haired girl chipped in, “Had a misstep have we? You should try and be more careful in the future.” The pair started to laugh louder, angering Devonne so much that she sprang to her feet and sprinted up the bank towards the startled twosome.
But she was almost within reach of grabbing hold of them when her feet slipped in the slippery wetness of the slush so instead with a loud, aggressive grunt, she hurtled her phone at them, making contact with the side of the blonde girl’s head.
The girl shrieked loudly in pain, giving Devonne a quiet satisfaction and she growled loudly, “Keep cackling and I’ll get you bitch’s later,” before deciding the effort of chasing after them wasn’t worth it.
In the choir room, the group were gathered around Devonne who was licking her war wounds after her encounter on the field, earlier this morning.
“Sit still,” Mary ordered the voice of an authoritarian as she dabbed anti- septic lotion on the grazes on Devonne’s hand’s “You look like you’ve done ten rounds with Tyson,” she sniffed.
Kitty was beside herself, she felt bad because she hadn’t been with her friend when she was attacked.
Parrish was trying to cheer her up, “It’s not your fault, Kitty,” he assured but even the velvety tones of his voice couldn’t placate her.
“Ouch, that hurts,” Devonne, yelped.
“Don’t be such a baby,” scolded Mary Lou as she pressed a plaster on her cuts, “That’s it, all done.”
“What was it all about, anyway?” asked Walker. “It was a bit random, wasn’t it?”
“They probably did it for a dare or something,” Aurora interjected.
“It’s no mystery to me,” Devonne volunteered, “I seem to rub people up the wrong way sometimes but I must confess, even I didn’t see this one coming.”
As the door opened and Elliot entered without Ms. West in tow, they all scattered to their seats.
The three empty chairs left vacant by Melinda, Spencer and Courtney didn’t go unnoticed and seemed to have left a sombre atmosphere in the room. The group recognised how difficult it would be too move forward without them.
“Morning, everyone,” Elliot greeted, “What a sorrowful bunch, you all look today. Guys, we must all try to stop dwelling on the recent departures of Miss Carlisle and Wintour. We can’t let their leaving hold us back, we’ve got to get too work, and I’ve been notified that Miss Hagan won’t be with us for a few weeks but her place in the club isn’t in question, so I propose you get them smiles back on your faces to help encourage new members to come forward to ensure she still has a club to return to.”
“I think we should perform a song,” Mary Lou squeaked excitedly.
“I agree with Mary Lou,” Jessica quickly added, “I can’t think of a better way to get recruits.” She locked pinkies with the ever-giggling Mary Lou.
Their enthusiasm made everyone feel a bit more positive and they all resolved to renew their efforts. They sure as hell didn’t want their hard work to be in vain.
Elliot’s eyes shone with pride as he observed their growing unanimity.
His gut feeling told him they just might advance to Sectionals.
Spencer sat in the crowded cafeteria and not for the first time, wondered why on Earth she was with these particular girls.
“Christ, Spence!” Courtney burst out, “How many sequins are you going to put on that poor spirit stick?”
“Yeah, bleach head,” cried Rosie, sitting opposite of them, “It’s in danger of looking cheap now.”
“Why, have you got a problem with cheap?” Spencer said, dripping sarcasm, “You do know you’re a bitch, right Rosie? And not a very subtle one at that. It’s hardly a secret that you’re not fond of me, even though I haven’t objected to you joining our group. Perhaps, you think I’m wanting to be the head cheerleader and maybe I am, but if you carry on making moves on me, I might surprise you and for your benefit, this colour slipping through my fingers…” she continued as she ran her fingers through her thick luscious hair “Is au naturale.”
“Oooh,” Freya chirped, “Put your claws away, girls. We’re all meant to be friends, aren’t we? Not frenemies, let’s save the attitude for our opposition.”
Spencer just carried on with her task, smirking under her bent head, thinking to herself how pleasurable it was, having these spiteful spats with these inferior girls who merely challenged her.
She raised her head when she heard the raucous laughter coming from the centre of the table and realised she longed for the friendships she had thrown away when she left Star Dominion, but that boat had already sailed.
“So which one of us is going to sing this song then?” asked Marc, his voice struggling to reach the end of the very long table. “But you can count me out because I don’t feel comfortable in just getting up and spontaneously, breaking into song.”
Dana nudged Jessica and questioned, “Does, he ever feel comfortable?” but she just chose to ignore her and continued to belt away on her laptop.
Devonne butted in, “Following on, Walker and Parrish, don’t you guys feel like doing a song?”
Walker placed his arm around Beth: “No” he said firmly, “I’m sitting this one out.”
“Me too,” grumbled Parrish.
“Okay,” drawled Devonne, holding up her arms dismissively, “As none of you boys are willing to give it a try, I guess it’s down to us, isn’t it girls?” she said, her eyes darted from one to the other. “Seeing as my throat is more than tender today and I’m still getting pain from my sprained ankle, I vote for Kitty and Mary Lou to lead the full blown sing- song and dance off.” She said quickly, “All those in favour? Raise your hands.”
Faster than anyone of them could say aye, they all whipped up their hands, prompting a gasp of trepidation from Kitty and from the always smiling Mary Lou, a yelp of delight as she said enthusiastically, rising from her seat, “I’m up for it,” but Kitty muttered doubtfully, “I’m not so sure I am, I don’t think I’ll be able to carry this off unless you all promise to join in at some point.”
A chorus of, “Yeah, yeah, course we will,” allied her fears.
Kitty stood up nervously from her chair, “Oh God, what am I letting myself in for?” her thoughts raced uncontrollably through her mind but it was difficult for her not to be swayed by the exuberance that all of them had tried to blank.
The babble of voices had taken no effect on Jessica as she stared morosely down at her laptop. A feeling of dread had just loomed over her before she snapped it to a close and dropped her head into her hands, feeling her chest tighten and her cheeks burn.
Dana noticed Jessica seemed upset so she asked, “Are you alright, Jess? You seem a bit down.”
Jessica turned to her, throwing a watery smile her way as she shrugged and popped her laptop haphazardly into her bag and set it underneath the table.
Dana let the matter drop, she knew her friend would confide to her eventually and she wanted to watch Kitty and Mary Lou’s performance.
Marc put on the music and shouted above it, “When you’re ready, girls.”
Kitty climbed awkwardly onto the table, which had been hastily cleared by Beth and Walker, and grabbed Mary Lou’s hand to help her up. The majority of people in the room began to watch the scene that was unfolding in front of them, whether they cared for it or not. Although, some feigned indifference, their antics were nothing new to them by now.
Kitty tried to get in the zone as she leisurely sang, hoping to build up her confidence, “Wake up in the morning with a head like ‘what ya done?’ This used to be the life but I don’t need another one.”
“You like cuttin’ up and carrying on, you wear them gowns. So how come I feel so lonely when you’re up getting down?” Kitty continued, her anxiety waning while not holding back on her dance moves, setting off a lively Mary Lou who mimicked her steps.
Mary Lou, her eyes bright and with a provocative smile, sang her verse, motioning to Jessica to loosen up and join in, “I can see you stalking like a predator. I’ve been here before. Temptation calls like Adam to the apple. But I will not be caught. Cause I can read those velvet eyes. And all I see is lies. Looks like the magic's only ours tonight.”
Jessica stayed in her seat, she didn’t want to dance but she did enjoy singing, “But I don’t feel like dancin’. When the old Joanna plays. My heart could take a chance. But my two feet can’t find a way. You’d think that I could muster up a little soft-shoe gentle sway. But I don’t feel like dancin’. No sir, no dancin’ today. Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. Even if I find nothin' better to do. Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. Why’d you pick a tune when I’m not in the mood? Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. I'd rather be home with the one in the bed till dawn, with you.”
Mary Lou wasn’t going to take no for an answer, so she resolved in grabbing Jessica’s hand, exclaiming, “Come on girl, have fun.”
She pulled her up while Kitty led the song, "No more poison. Killing my emotion. I will not be frozen. Dancing is my remedy, remedy, oh. Stop stop praying. Cause i'm not not playing. I'm not frozen. Dancing is my remedy, remedy, oh."
Whilst the girls pranced and performed on the table, the remainder of the group circled round the table, bashing to the disco beat with their hands and cutlery.
Some of the crowd started to dance too, encouraging them further.
Spencer couldn’t help it; she was really enjoying the entertainment. She tapped her feet as she continued decorating the spirit stick but Courtney, on the other hand, just rolled her eyes, shovelling her garden salad into her mouth and not even bothering to turn and acknowledge the proceedings.
The trio sang, "Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. I've got a remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh. Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. Here is my remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh."
Mary Lou continued, “Cities come and cities go just like the old empires. When all you do is change your clothes and call that versatile. You got so many colours make a blind man so confused. Then why can’t I keep up when you’re the only thing I lose?”
Kitty lay down on the table, singing whilst doing a rowing motion with her legs, "Spin me faster like a kaleidoscope. All I've got's the floor. Yeah, you can try but I've found the antidote. Music is the cure. So you can try to paralyse. But I know best this time."
The two girls pulled her back to her feet and Kitty sang, purposely shrilly, “When the old Joanna plays. My heart could take a chance. But my two feet can’t find a way. You’d think that I could muster up a little soft-shoe gentle sway. But I don’t feel like dancin’. No sir, no dancin’ today. Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. Even if i find nothin' better to do. Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. Why’d you pick a tune when I’m not in the mood? Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’. I'd rather be home with the one in the bed till dawn, with you.”
Their dancing became more dynamic and their performance gained impetus.
Kitty and Jess sang in unison, “Here is my remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh.”
Star Dominion backed them, “La-da, da-da, la-da, la-da, da-da-da. Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-da, la-da.”
Breathlessly, Kitty sung once more, “And when the music fades away. I know I'll be okay. Contagious rhythm in my brain. Let it play.”
Each of them become extremely frenzied as Mary Lou took a bit of a breathing space as she sang, opting to just sway to the groovy instrumental, "But I don't feel like dancin'. When the old Joanna plays. My heart could take a chance. But my two feet can't find a way. You'd think that I could muster up a little soft-shoe gentle away. But i don't feel like dancin'. No sire, no dancin' today. Don't feel like dancin', dancin'. Even if I find nothin' better to do. Don't feel like dancin', dancin'. Why'd you pick a tune when I'm not in the mood? Don't feel like dancin', dancin'. I'd rather be home with the one in the bed till dawn, with you."
Kitty and Jessica also took her lead, they too needed to get their breaths back and all three held hands, singing harmoniously, “No more poison. Killing my emotion. I will not be frozen. Dancing is my remedy, remedy, stop stop praying. Cause I'm not playing. I’m not frozen. Dancing is my remedy, remedy, oh.”
Star Dominion joined in with them, singing the climaxing chorus, energizing the girls who engaged in their caper once again, “Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. I’ve got a remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh. Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. Here is my remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh.”
Mary Lou laughed as she caught a bright red streamer Devonne had thrown to her. She swirled it above their heads.
Kitty and Jessica took turns into doing the same.
Their voices rung out, “Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. I’ve got a remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh. Move while you're watching me. Dance with the enemy. Here is my remedy. Oh, oh-oh, oh-oh. Don’t feel like dancin’, dancin’.”
Kitty, in between her two friends, thrashed the streamer like a whip before letting go, causing it to tangle around Beth’s unoccupied seat.
She grabbed Mary Lou and Jessica’s hand, thrusting them into the air as they finished the song, “La-da, da-da, la-da, la-da, da-da-da. Da-da, da-da, da-da-da-da, la-da.”
The girls got down off the table, eyes smiling with elation.
Kitty looped her tousled hair behind her ears as she looked at Parrish who stepped forward to congratulate her and her exhausted teammates.
“Wow,” he said earnestly. “That was fantastic, you’re braver than me and more talented than you realize.”
Kitty smiled bashfully, soaking up his praise.
Immediately, she was thrust forward into his arms as Devonne fell back against her.
Suddenly, it seemed all hell had broken loose.
Kitty unravelled herself from Parrish’s arms, turning swiftly in order to comprehend what had just ensued. Her mouth fell open in outage and disgust.
Courtney was stood astride Devonne who lay sprawled inelegantly on the floor.
A deafening silence teemed and only now, did it feel as if it was unfurling in slow motion.
Courtney’s expression was one of malevolence as she looked around the anxious faces surrounding her.
With hatred flashing in her eyes, she spat, “When are you pathetic lot going to get it in your thick skulls that no one is interested in your theatrics?! Take a look around, can you see anyone cheering or rooting for you? You can’t impress your peers so, what chance do you think you have at Sectionals?”
She swiped her arm sideways, the boom box crashing to the floor, almost hitting a startled Devonne who reacted by kicking Courtney hard in the shins, toppling the shrieking brunette to the floor.
Walker grabbed Devonne’s outstretched arms, helping her to her feet.
Baffled by Courtney’s attack on her, her hackles rising, she shouted at the girl who sat rubbing her knees ineffectively. “What the hell was all that about?” She had more than enough for one day.
Courtney responded viciously, “Face it kiddo, you’re an easy target. You strut around like the bee’s knees but you’re just a nothing, don’t you know?”
Devonne advanced, in clear anger, she was going to have this bitch but Kitty and Mary Lou sprang in front of her, holding her back.
“No, Devonne, you’re better than this. Don’t go down to her level,” Kitty pleaded.
Devonne bit down hard on her lip, tasting the saltiness of the trickling blood.
“Get out of here, you witch!” Mary Lou’s voice exploded, frightening herself in the process. Her friends looked on, astonished by her outburst.
Courtney stared back at her; she too couldn’t believe this slip of a girl, the one who had been so gentle and caring previously towards her, could now sound so forceful and controlling when defending her friends.
Slowly but surely, she regained her footing and skulked away.
The rest of the crowd scattered from the cafeteria before they had any chance to show any appreciation for the spectacle they’d been treated to, minutes earlier. Star Dominion retreated back to their seats, arguably shaken.
“How are you feeling now, Devonne?” Kitty spoke worriedly.
“Honestly,” Devonne replied hoarsely, “I’m as right as rain. Stop stressing; it’s only my pride that’s been hurt. You’re forgetting, Kit, that I’m actually stronger than I look and a heap more stubborn,” she finished with a little giggle and rolled her eyes at the others, causing them to laugh along with her as they retrieved their cold plates from the floor.
They looked down, ready to tuck into there unappetizing congealed meals, to see that they were now sprinkled with pieces of broken plastic, which had been their choir’s boom box.
Courtney returned to her table, the four girls had sat watching her approaching and had agreed that the best course of action would be to give her the cold shoulder. None of them condoned what she had done.
She looked down at her seat where Spencer had planted her legs and who was looking back at her judgmentally. Spencer said coolly, “You do realise there will be repercussions from this, don’t you? There always are and trust me, I know better than most.”
Elliot rolled the four dry ease marker pens in the palm of his hand, opting for the black and red one because they were his favourite colours. He turned to the white board and with a flash of inspiration, wrote in big bold letters a word and with his red pen, added a flame effect around it.
He stepped aside, turning to face the glee club.
Mary Lou clapped her hands excitedly, squawking loudly, “Jeez, our first assignment,” and just as quickly, groaned ever louder as she mouthed the word, “Vulnerability?” with a puzzled expression.
She nudged Devonne, repeating the word, “Vulnerability? What’s that in aid of?”
“Beats me,” Devonne answered lamely.
“Right, guys,” Elliot began, “Ms. West is still on her psychology course so today, I thought we might try a bit of psychology ourselves so here goes. I want you all to think about how circumstances play a part in how we relate to others. We all need to understand how actions can hurt those around us and even isolate them, making them feel alone and vulnerable. We shouldn’t give up on people when they make the wrong choices but instead try to accept that we’re all humans and can all make mistakes. To be aware of other’s emotions, we need to be able to discover our own so what I’d like you to do is to select a song based on your own weaknesses and perform them, starting tomorrow.”
Elliot continued talking as he ambled over to the piano, “I know most of you guys are still angry with the Spencer and Courtney issue but they must have had there reasons for wanting to cut adrift from us.”
“Yeah,” Kitty said loudly, “Maybe there was a reason but all we see it as is a stab in the back.”
“Huh?” Devonne seethed, “I don’t think they had any particular reason except they just wanted us to struggle at Sectionals, they don’t give two jots for our feelings and I say we give them back two fold.”
“Well,” Dana interjected, “Dana, thinks we shouldn’t let their leaving bother us that much because won’t that give them the satisfaction of knowing they’ve hit us hard?”
Devonne drawled, “Courtney is one hell of a diva and I have to confess, I thought Spencer would be far too intelligent to follow her around like a lost sheep, it isn’t a look that suits her but y’all trust me on this, let’s not waste any more time talking about them. What we should be doing is spending our time compiling some songs for me, Kitty and Mary Lou to perform at the impending competition,” She ended with her palms upwards for the two girls to high five her.
Elliot’s eyes were heavenwards, listening to the girl’s exchange. “Girls, Girls.” he boomed. “We must all agree to accept that everything has two sides. We don’t really know why Spencer and Courtney decided to leave when they did so perhaps, we ought to put this one to bed.”
“Never going to happen,” Devonne said faintly under her breath.
None of the guys had given their opinion about any of this, they knew they’d be wasting their breath and in any case, could never get a word in edgeways.
“Does anyone have any questions before we finish up here?” Elliot said, looking down at his designer wristwatch.
Aurora called, “Yes…I do. Is it just solos?”
“Oh, no,” Elliot specified, speaking as much with his hands as with his mouth. “It can be a solo, duet, trio, quartet. What ever takes your fancy? That all, Aurora?”
“Yes, thank you, Mr. Morgan, it’s nice that someone bothers to answer me,” She said, giving Walker the evil eye who, as usual, was sat next to Beth.
“Just doing my job,” Joked Mr. Morgan. “Now Skedaddle.”
Mary Lou bid Kitty and Devonne adieu, and asked Marc if she could walk with him, seeing as that they were both on their way to the same class. She was looking forward to Art class because it was abstract today or colour mania, as she liked to put it.
As they strolled together, she stopped abruptly and checked with Marc if it would be okay if they could sit down for a minute or two on a bench.
“Marc,” she said tentatively, dropping her hand on his arm, “As it’s vulnerability week, I need to confess something to someone and that means you I’m afraid. I have this really huge problem and I’ve not been able to share it with anyone, I know I’ve hinted about it with you before…”
Panting softly like a frazzled puppy, she babbled on, “I-I just can’t sing on my own, it’s like a bad nightmare when I’m on stage and everyone’s concentrating on me, waiting for me to start. I feel sick with stage fright. Inside, I’m freaking out and then when I’m in bed, dreaming, doing my thing, the audience is combusting with laughter. Would that be classed as vulnerability?” She blinked at him, “I was sure it is but now I’m not so sure, would you brand it as one?”
Marc scratched at his head, smiling back at her. He knew this wasn’t an appropriate time to laugh, “Yes, that’s definitely a vulnerability,” he assured her, he found it hard not to love this funny girl and suddenly, a light switched on in his head, “Mary Lou, I think I’ve got an idea to help you out, to stop you feeling like this.”
Smiling sweetly at him and brushing her hair back over both ears, she exclaimed, “I’m all ears, ahaha, wait that’s a bit silly, I’ve always got ears.”
Marc could not hold back now, he exploded hysterically.
“Sit down, Miss Wintour,” Ms. Jones ordered sternly, with a dip of her head.
She flitted her teaspoon, which she not one minute ago, had used to stir her beverage and set it aside, basking in the steam emanating from the vividly fragrant rosehip tea.
Courtney held the principal’s gaze evenly as she sat down, crossing her legs daintily and folding her arms angrily.
Not to appear rude, Jane sat the fragile porcelain cup delicately back onto its saucer, wanting to move on to the matter at hand.
“Right, I’ll get straight to the point,” she continued, “I have a list here of your recent altercations with certain members of Star Dominion and your own and I can tell you right now, I am not remotely impressed by your behaviour. It was confirmed that you were responsible for tripping Spencer in the cafeteria, you also caused havoc in the same place half an hour ago by pushing Devonne to the floor and you intentionally destroyed their boom box and then there’s the disturbing news that you are being verbally abusive to the disabled and being deliberately provocative to the rest of your peers but what is the most shocking of all, the icing on the cake, is that your sitting in my office without a shred of remorse. Have you anything at all to say to me?” she asked.
“Well, what can I say?” Courtney replied stubbornly, “It seems to me, you have made up your mind. You’ve already found me guilty and there’s no way I’m going to apologize for anything I’ve done.” Her eyes glinted spitefully, daring the principal to do her worst.
Irritated by Courtney’s front, Ms. Jones’s voice sharpened slightly and she drummed her fingers on her hardwood desk, trying to hold in her anger. “For the life of me, I can’t understand why a girl of your position and wealth, who basically has everything, would choose to throw it away and prefer to gain a reputation of a troublemaker. Effectively causing much disruption in the short time you’ve been at this school. I’m also imagining your father won’t be too pleased when I’ve informed him of your behaviour and the consequences that come with it.”
During this rebuke, Ms. Jones had left her seat and walked over to the window, staring out over the mundane rain washed car park.
“I have no other choice,” She said, turning back to Courtney who looked at her defiantly, “But to suspend you for two weeks. I’ll be writing to your parents, explaining my decision to them and why I have chosen this course of action and to advise them that your intolerable attitude won’t be condoned by the school.”
Finally her words had got a reaction from an unrepentant Courtney.
“But Ms. Jones,” she gasped, “What about Invitationals? I’m one of the lead singers and excluding me will hurt the status quo. I’m the one that’s got our new band up and coming, it might jeopardize our standing if I’m not here. It’s not fair,” she finished.
“That, Miss Wintour, is not my problem. You cannot go round, breaking the rules and expecting everyone to roll over for you. I am sure, Spencer Carlisle, is more than capable of supervising your group as you put it and it is possible, isn’t it, that one of the girls from The Thorny Roses could fill the gap left by you.”
“Spencer?” Courtney raged, “That’s not fair, it isn’t fair, why does she have to take over my duties? Its blatant favouritism and you know it. Why should I lose out because you’ve got a quiver in your lady garden?”
“MISS WINTOUR!” the principal thundered, “Your suspension is final and your angry outburst will be added to the list of misdeeds in the letter to your parents.”
Courtney knew full well, she had been beaten and before she left, she dawdled in the doorway and asked, “Aren’t you going to acknowledge Devonne’s involvement in what happened during lunch today?”
“No, Miss Wintour, I shall not,” She answered. “What Miss Stern did was justified, she reacted in self defence and I will be doing a school assembly highlighting the various types of bullying that I and the student body aim to prevent. Unfortunately, you won’t be present but when you return, I expect an out and out essay, expressing the forms of oppression you have perpetuated since you entered this school as a simple transfer student to an instigator, on my desk, first thing.”
Courtney closed the door silently behind her.
“I believe I can fly. I believe I can touch the sky. I think about it every night and day. Spread my wings and fly away. I believe I can soar. I see me running through that open door. I believe I can fly. I believe I can fly. I believe I can fly.” Parrish sang, hitting the high notes as he ran his Aleppo soap across his sculpted chest, revelling in the coldness of the water that pelted down on him from the showerhead.
Long showers after strenuous tryouts never tired with him.
At long last, he turned the cold tap off, ending the run of water slashing down onto the ceramic mosaic tiles.
He wrapped his towel tightly around his waist, stepping onto the frozen marble floor.
He just kept his composure as he nearly tripped over the discarded garments strewn on the ground and slip slapped past the throng of half naked footballers who were dissecting the game they had just played.
He found his locker which was situated, fortunately for Parrish, far away from the “it” crowd and slapped his friend, Arrow playfully across his head while he was bent over, tying up the laces of his too clean white trainers. He seemed to be making a hash of it and Parrish joked that he should have Velcro on his shoes or ask his mum to come in to do the laces for him.
As he grabbed his clothes from his locker, he turned and, out of good nature, banged knuckles with Walker who was on his way out of the changing rooms with his P.E. kit thrown lazily over his shoulder.
Parrish stalled as he heard Darius Bower, his loud and boisterous voice echoed around the room.
“Hey, guys. Don’t forget to pass my name to the coach because if anyone deserves QB, I do,” he finished cockily.
Parrish looked directly at him, moving towards the group, muttering, “Why would you think you deserve QB?”
Darius was pulling his sweatshirt over his head and stopped quickly to stare incredulously at Parrish. Not able to hide his agitation by the question he’d just raised, he countered, “You’re not exactly what I think of when it comes to QB. You’ve not got the right build or attitude and in fact, you’re an utter disgrace to the team.”
“Hang on, mate,” Interrupted Arrow, deciding his laces could wait. “My boy here has the figure of Adonis and as far as I can see, you’re just a lanky streak of piss and ahem, Parrish plays the game as well as anyone else in the team and if there’s to be a team vote on it, my vote is Parrish.”
Some of the other guys began to laugh and Darius threw his head back, laughing loudly with them.
“You little squirt,” he growled at him, “All this from the boy who likes chucking drinks over defenceless little girls.”
Arrow stuttered, wagging his finger, “That was you, you turd. You grabbed my wrist, making me do that.” He’d obviously ruffled some feathers because a couple of Darius’s cronies lunged towards him, but he turned hurriedly on his heel and fled the room, hoping he wouldn’t embarrass himself by tripping on his still untied shoelaces.
Darius’s hateful eyes zoned in on Parrish, whose confident stance stopped him in his tracks. Doubts flooded Darius’s mind, he realised that Parrish was no pushover but there was no way on God’s earth that he would allow him to get the coveted position of QB.
He watched intently as Parrish walked proudly back to his bench to finish dressing and he arrogantly turned back to his entourage.
Melinda sat down carefully, facing her physician.
Her sister in law, Christine, took a seat alongside her with a troubled look.
Melinda was in absolute agony, the dreadful ache in her abdomen had worsened since the day before, and she didn’t dare cough or sneeze. The pain was so intense; it had taken all of her strength not to cry out during the bumpy car journey to the surgery.
She looked at Dr. Scott. He was a tall, middle-aged man with thick, white hair and a generous smile he had perfected whilst rearing his growing children. He returned the look and observed the way her hand gripped her lower stomach.
“Okay, Melinda, this is the third time I’ve seen you in two days and I’ve been unable to give you a diagnosis but I know for certain that you must be suffering a great deal because no one would volunteer to travel in this atrocious weather if there wasn’t something wrong. So I must insist, you let me examine you. There are many medical reasons for the symptoms that have been described to me. Some of them can have serious ramifications for you if I don’t get to the bottom of them quickly.”
He spoke gently to her, in a fatherly manner and asked, “Would you prefer it if I asked one of my colleagues to take a look at you? One of the female doctors? I’m aware it can be embarrassing for young girls to undergo a medical inspection, though I assure you, that there’s nothing to worry about and it’ll only take a matter of minutes to check you over.”
Melinda sighed heavily; she knew she’d have to agree. Well, what else could she do? She felt, no, she was too weak at this point to argue.
How could she tell this lovely, tender man that she was afraid to lift up her layers of clothing to him or even, a woman doctor?
The fear crippled her senses, she swore she was dying at this moment and as the tears pricked her eyes, she nodded to Dr. Scott. She had been defeated.
Feebly, she answered him, “Yes, I-I will see the woman doctor.”
Christine was so relieved. She had seen her respective sister in law struggling to walk, and bent double with the torture she was experiencing, yet for the life of her, couldn’t understand her reluctance to seek medical attention. She’d never freaked out like this, as a kid, she had all her inoculations without incident but over the last year, she had changed somehow and she had become more private, secretive even. Why hadn’t she noticed this until today?”
Christine asked Dr. Scott anxiously if they would have to wait long for his fellow associate.
Dr. Scott affirmed that he would ask Dr. Miller if she could see Melinda straight away so they didn’t have to hang around needlessly.
He smiled crookedly at the very ill looking redhead and patted her comfortingly on the shoulder as she left the room.
“That wasn’t so bad, was it?” Christine said soothingly, “I told you there was no need to panic. At least, we’re getting some answers now. Take it easy, sweetie.”
Melinda smiled weakly in response before another spasm of pain coursed through her gut, just as Dr. Miller came through the door. She took the scene in quite quickly and coaxed Melinda onto the examination table.
Melinda squeezed her eyes, shutting them tight as Dr. Miller folded back her thick baggy jumper and the couple T- shirts she wore beneath it.
The doctor tried to not make a sound as she drew in a breath and kept her gaze down as to not alert Melinda’s relative who had stayed in her seat.
Softly, she placed her hand on Melinda’s sunken stomach, surveying the bony rise of the girl’s hips and it’s jutting grotesquely under her taut skin.
Melinda gasped loudly when Dr. Miller pressed down her navel. She gently pulled her clothes back over for her, raising her eyebrow susceptibly as she took her patient’s hand in hers.
Her kind eyes calmed Melinda as she shared her hypothesis, “My dear, I think you may have appendicitis so I’m going to phone an ambulance to take you to the hospital. The procedure to treat this condition isn’t a long one and you’ll probably be kept in hospital for a few days, at the most. If you’d like to return to your seat, I’ll go and make the call.”
Dr. Miller addressed the attractive well-dressed young woman who had accompanied Melinda. “Right, Christine is it? I’m just going to have a little chat with Dr. Scott beforehand and I’ll be back in two ticks,” Dr. Miller said before exiting the room.
Melinda’s head fell uneasily onto her sister-in-law’s shoulder, quietly, she started to weep and her body shook in concert.
Christine put her arm around her shoulders and dropped a light kiss on her hot forehead. Her intuition told her that appendicitis wasn’t the doctor’s only concern.
Jessica was wearing her favourite pair of jeans with her long sleeved top and a waistcoat and as she was dashing into the auditorium, pulling her friend, Dana along with her. She desperately hung on to her beret perched on her head with her free hand.
Grinding to a halt, Dana gripped her sides to where she had a stitch and said between panting breaths, “Okay, I have two theories. You’re either yanking my arm out to tell me why you were upset yesterday or you woke up this morning and found the fairies had been and stolen your hair. Am I right?”
Jessica being more fit than her friend wasn’t so winded. She turned to Dana and took off her beret, revealing her now short curly hair.
“No, my reason for my being upset is because I logged onto the Juilliard official website and I’ve read that their dividing applicants into categories based on their voice types. And before you can join the school, you’re expected to sing eight bars of Evita’s ‘Buenos Aeries.’ Well, that’s what us Sopranos have to do and since that would my audition song whether I like it or not, I don’t think I’ll stand a chance in getting accepted.”
“Oh why, ever not?” Dana asked, surprised.
“I can’t believe you’re even asking Dana. That song is practically hell for me to sing and cursed somehow. For some bizarre reason, I blew chunks when I sang that song at Sally Mather’s 11th birthday party and now, I have some kind of mental blockage that stops me from singing it.”
Dana held her hands to her mouth, “Jess, I honestly can’t believe that song would make you want to Ralph and just think seriously about what you’re saying. You were a lot younger back then, you’re a senior now and in more control and the only difference I can see now is that back then, you had a full head of hair. You’re a lot more powerful than what you give yourself credit for.”
Jessica smiled at her; she didn’t feel as sure of herself as her friend did.
Dana winked back at Jessica as she left to go, backstage.
Jessica walked slowly to the centre front of the stage and sat down, dangling her feet over the edge.
She cleared her head of her woes and began to sing, “What is it that we're living for. Applause, applause. Nothing I know brings on the glow. Like sweet applause. You’re thinking you're through. That nobody cares. Then suddenly you hear it starting.”
Dana was about to leave the auditorium completely when her ears picked up on the sound of Jessica singing and she decided to retrace her steps, picking up a stool from the side of the stage.
“And somehow you're in charge again. And life's a ball. Trumpets all sing, life seems to swing. And you're the king of it all 'cause. You’ve had a taste of. The sound that says love. Applause, applause, applause.”
She sauntered towards Jessica and made herself comfortable, a few feet behind her.
Dana applauded and Jessica chucking a smile over her shoulder, continued to sing, “When I was eight I was in a school play. I’ll never forget it; I had one line to say. My big moment came. I said, "What ho! The prince!” My sister applauded. I’ve been hooked ever since.”
“It's better than pot, it's better than booze. A shot of applause will stamp out the blues. You work till you're dead. It ain't for the bread. Call me out of my head.”
Dana closed her eyes, listening a little enviously to Jessica’s clear voice. It was the sound of tinkling glass whereas her own voice is raspy when she manages to hit the high notes, almost like she was a 20 cigarette a day girl but in truth, she had never took up the bad habit.
“Your bank account's bare. Your cat has the flu. Your losing your hair. Then you hear it. That happy sounds rolls over you. And just like that. Everything’s right, this is the night. Love hits you right where you're at. Cuz you've had a taste of. The sound that says love.
“Applause, applause, It's wondrous applause, Thunderous applause, Beautiful, soaring, magnificent roaring, It's better than pot, it's better than booze, A shot of applause will stamp out the blues. Whatever you do you do better because. You’re doing it to the beat of applause! And nothing can beat the beat of applause. When you hear it...”
Dana jumped to her feet, clapping loudly as Jessica finished her song,' "Why do we work our Asses off? What is it for? Pains disappear. Soon as you hear. That happy audience roar, 'cuz. You've had a taste of. The sound that says love, Applause, applause, applause!"
Jessica beamed her appreciation. She subtlety up- stretched her hand into the air, her face faltering. She was going to say something but let the words go when Dana said her piece.
Dana drew her best friend to her; grasping her hands. “Girlfriend,” she burst out with swagger, “You almost brought tears to my eyes. You have so much soul and let’s not forget passion on for the music that sets you apart from the rest. Instead of fretting about the future that hasn’t happened, you should concentrate on the now and, Jessebell, if Juilliard doesn’t work out for you, I can promise you one thing. You’ll always have a future onstage because you’ve got me hooked and that ain’t easy.”
“Awww thanks, Dana. You always know how to say the right words to get me out of the doldrums,” Jessica said, sticking out her bottom lip to make her friend laugh.
Mary Lou was full of nervous anticipation; she had followed a trail of white roses that had begun by a note cello-taped onto her locker. It had simply read, “Let your nose follow the rose.”
She had looked around suspiciously, wondering if someone was playing a trick but everyone around her was behaving normally so her curiosity grew as she picked up the first white rose, breathing in its scent that only led to a cute squeeze.
When one of the roses brought her to the cookery room, she found a note that read, “You took your time :) ,“ she knocked timidly on the door, not able to stifle the giggle rising from her throat.
She sidled in anyway because there was no answer.
Looking around furtively, she slowly walked to a table which held a spiral cupcake stand, holding half a dozen of the delicious sweets, adorned with hearts, shimmer sugar, gold sprinkles and last but not least, jelly butterflies. A bit over the top one could say, but not this girl.
In one of them was a card with her name on it. She placed the bouquet of white roses, some of which were wilted now or damaged because students had obviously trodden on them, onto the table and gasped out loud when hands swept around her head, covering her eyes and a familiar voice shouted, “Surprise!”
“Marc, it’s you,” she said coyly, with a happy expression in her sunshiny eyes. “The cakes are lovely; you don’t know another Mary Lou, do you? Oh, I mean, they are for me? They’re lovely,” she repeated, all hot and flustered.
He smiled lopsidedly, flapping his hands, “Of course, they’re for you. There’s only one Mary Lou in my life.” The emphasis being one. Evidently, he was smitten.
Greedily scooping one of the gooey chocolate cakes up, she endeared herself to him by the obvious delight she had in sinking her teeth, right through the middle of it, leaving chocolate smudges on her nose and chin.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” she said, crumbs spurting from her mouth. “You’re going to have one yourself, aren’t you? Or else I might end up making myself sick.”
“In that case, I better,” he agreed, “I wouldn’t want you to become ill…you liked the flowers then?” Marc asked in between bites.
She nodded back, unable to answer him politely because she had just popped the other half of the cupcake into her mouth. Instead, she attempted to smile unsuccessfully. Her white teeth stained brown, making him like her even more.
Marc took Mary Lou’s hand, leading her to a seat. He explained when they took their seats, “I decided on white roses because they symbolize purity and light, which I thought suited you perfectly.”
“Awww, Marc, I don’t know what to say,” she said, shyness overcoming her.
Marc smiled back broadly and fumbled with his guitar case by his side, “I thought, while we’re alone, that you might like to sing a duet with me. To see if we could combat your vulnerability, the one you spoke about yesterday.”
He passed her a sheet of music and scanning the lyrics, she gabbled, “Oh-oh, I know this, of course I will. I’d love to sing with you.”
“I’ll start off,” he said amiably, strumming at his guitar. “I am green today. I chirp with joy like a cricket song.”
Spotting the cheeky wink, she joined in, “I am Gray today. Gloomy and down like a morning fog.” Which was actually, the utter opposite of what she was today.
“I am orange today. Loud and messy like finger paint on the wall. I am red today. Hopping mad like a playground ball. I am black today. Strong and tall a great big bear. I am purple today. Bright and happy like a butterfly in the air.” Marc and Mary Lou sang, harmonizing quite naturally together.
“I'm a rainbow today. All the colors of the world. I’m a rainbow today. All the colors of the world. I’m a rainbow today. All the colors of the world are in me,” Mary Lou’s voice trailed off and Marc continued, "I am yellow today. I shine my light out like the sun."
Smiling at each other, they both sang whole-heartedly, “I am white today. Soft and quite like new snow.”
“I am blue today. Calm as glass and cool like the sea,” Mary Lou sang, tapping her foot.
But then Marc stood up and began backing out of the room. She stared at him in confusion, the smile leaving her face. “Marc, where are you going?”
He assured her, “You’ll be alright. I’m here, Mary Lou, just carry on singing. I’ll be right outside. Remember, it’s mind over matter.”
The door was left open so she could still hear him sing, “I'm a rainbow today. All the colors of the world.”
On her own, she finished the song, “I'm a rainbow today. All the colors of the world. I’m a rainbow today. All the colors of the world are in me. All the colors of the world are in me.”
Marc peered around the door, giving her a thumbs up.
Worriedly, she stressed, “Marc, I’m not really sure this will help me when I’m onstage. You can’t be there by my side, to start the song with me and you won’t be there to end it.”
“Well in that case. You’ll have to imagine I am with you and we’re singing together because in reality, I will only be a few feet from you when ever you’re performing.”
She rushed to him hastily, throwing her arms around him, causing him to stagger slightly before she placed a wet kiss on his clean shaven cheek and quipping, “You’re my bestest friend ever but that can be our little secret, I don’t want Kitty to feel she’s being usurped.”
Aurora was curled up on the sofa in the kitchen diner, her pent up feelings made her be annoyed with anything and everything around her these days.
She yanked one of the cushions from behind her head and tossed it to the bottom of the sofa, kicking it into place.
She listened to her mum over by the cooker, dishing up rashers of bacon with beans on toast.
“Are you coming over to the table?” Evelyn called, setting the Disney cutlery and an Eeyore mug of hot tea beside each plate.
“God, mum,” Aurora said, frustrated, “What’s with all the Disney malarkey? It’s getting a bit extreme, isn’t it? We can’t seem to move around in the house these days with all the Disney paraphernalia you seem to be buying. I didn’t want to say it but you’re becoming a hoarder, a Disney hoarder.”
The strawberry blonde woman looked back at her daughter, turning the conversation to her. “What’s with your anger, Aurora? You’ve been so tetchy the past few weeks. You hide yourself in your room all day, every day, apart from meal times. All of us seem to be walking on eggshells around you, and you even made Christmas quite miserable for us which is supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year.”
“And,” she accentuated, “You don’t seem to have two words to say to Beth these days which is a shame because I thought you two were getting close.”
“If you must know, mum,” Aurora groused as she sat down, hunched over the mahogany table, “I feel so left out. You’ve got dad and Beth has Walker and none of you seem to even notice that I’m around. I thought we were getting close too but since Beth’s been going out with Walker, she’s changed or that’s how I perceive it, but then again, it could be me, I suppose. I can’t seem to work it out.”
“Aurora,” Evelyn said in a hush tone, now sitting next to her, “There’s nothing to work out, what your feeling is normal. When I was your age, and Aunty Alice started dating your Uncle Jim, I felt exactly the same, a third wheel but everything changed when I met your dad. I know how hard it is to see your sister so wrapped up in her boyfriend but when you meet that special somebody and soon hopefully, everything will be put into perspective and one other thing, after those few months of bliss with your new man, relationships with your family return to normal.”
“I hope so, mum,” Aurora said, blighted with uncertainty.
“Right, let’s tuck in,” her mum insisted, “Because I’ve got some news for you which might explain why I’ve gone a wee bit crazy on the Disney Merchandise.”
Aurora glowered at her mother, rather questioningly, holding her fork aloft, the crisp bacon hanging from it precariously, “Can’t you tell me now, mum?” She asked with a puzzled frown.
“Welllllllllllllllllllllllllllll,” She grinned, caressing her stomach gently.
Aurora swallowed nosily, her face a picture, “Mum, are you trying to tell me your pregnant?”
She squeezed her daughter’s hand, taking in her astonishment and genuine shock, and answered brightly, “Yes, I guess I am.”
“Oh my god, I can’t believe it!” Aurora gushed, fanning herself, “I’m going to have a new sister or brother. Oh mum, congrats. I so can’t wait now,” and with it, some of her anger dissipated.
A slither of moonlight pierced through a chink of the elegantly draped curtains, falling onto Beth’s skin and making her appear almost ethereal.
Her room was pretty basic, there was a large bed, casement windows, a chunky set of oak drawers, a huge wardrobe, and, on a bracket on the wall, was a rarely used TV.
Before moving into her sparsely furnished bedroom, Beth had always bunked up with Aurora. She would have been happy in the little room that now houses all the junk, but her mother had rebuffed the idea because even though her daughter had no sight, she still needed a room with windows, obviously not for the scenery outside but to feel the breeze and hear the birdsong; that annoyingly would wake her during the summer months from about 3am. They didn’t honour school holidays.
Walker stretched cat like on the firm mattress.
“Whoops,” Beth chuckled, “Has my leaning on your arm given you cramp?”
Sitting up quickly, rubbing his arms vigorously, he chuckled back, “Nah, it’s not cramp, it’s the dreaded pins and needles. Oh, god,” he said, jiggling around the room, swatting the pendulum light hanging from the ceiling. “My arms are completely numb now.”
Beth spoke between laughter, “Walker, come back here and sit down, I’ll rub your arm to life while we discuss what you intend to say with Spencer.”
Gratefully, he sat back down, leaning on the bedstead whilst Beth massaged his arm.
“Babe,” he said, “I really think it’s a good idea to ask her back to Star Dominion.”
“Oh, Walker,” Beth said candidly, shoving his arm from her, “I think you should just throw in the towel because there’s only a slim chance that she would consider coming back. I know we’re down on members but why do you care so much about her absence? If memory serves me right, she wasn’t exactly the nicest bud in the meadow and frankly to me, she was only making up our numbers.”
Taken aback by Beth’s blunt and uncharacteristic manner, he replied, nonplussed, “I think that’s a bit harsh. Sure, she’s done some pretty messed up things in the past but then we got to know the real her and I found her rather likable. I reckon she was just misunderstood and I also think she was more than just a number, she’s one hell of a singer and she can move pretty well too. I’m still going to try and get her back on side, where she belongs, and if you’d rather not help then I’ll do it myself, after all, you’re busy subbing Melinda’s piano lessons.”
Trying to make him see reason, she talked quietly with conviction, “Walker, it’s a tricky business taking sides because as I see it, if you’re okay with what Spencer’s done then your obviously okay with what Courtney did in the canteen where she purposely hurt one of our key players. I know your sentiment is sound but not everyone might agree with what you’re doing so I say you should tread a little cautiously.”
“Well, ok, your probably right,” he replied, “I’ll test the waters with Spencer and see what happens but right now, I’m just going to get a glass of water and when I get back, can we please forget everything for now and let’s just concentrate on you and me.”
Beth swept up her hair, giving him a tender look and answered, “Sure, Walker, I’m easy with that.”
In the science room, Spencer scribbled on the whiteboard, writing songs possibly for Invitationals.
Walker came in, almost colliding with a paper model of the solar system strung from each corner of the classroom.
Spencer looked sideways at him and not wanting an uncomfortable silence, decided it best to acknowledge him, she felt she owed him that much.
“Hi, Walker, how’s Trix?” She turned back to the board, not expecting an answer but surprisingly, he sauntered over to her, saying, “Hi yourself, Spencer. What you up to?” before reading the board over her shoulder.
“Oh, are these your songs for Invitationals? They seem pretty good if they are.”
He read them aloud, “’Funhouse’ by P!nk, a mash up of X- tina’s Fighter and Destiny Child’s ‘Survivor.’”
She broke in, “Yes, I got the idea for the mash- up after Devonne and Dana sang their mash up of Britney’s ‘Stronger’ and ‘Fighter’ but I thought ‘Survivor’ would maybe make more of an impression; I reckon it empowers women.”
“Oh, I see you walked out for empowerment, is that your meaning?” he retorted, paining her with his penetrating gaze.
Spencer was more than perturbed by the undercurrent of anger, surfacing from him and in a low voice, fearing to make eye contact, explained, “No, that wasn’t my meaning at all. I just didn’t like where things were heading but it doesn’t mean that I don’t think about you all and pray that everything goes well for you.”
“Well, in that case,” Walker said persuasively, “Why don’t you just come back? We need you, simple as.”
“I can’t,” she blurted, “And I’m sorry but you can’t make me feel any worse than what I already do. The Storm Starlets are relying on me, even more so now Courtney’s out of town and just so you know, I didn’t condone what she did to Devonne although I would have done the same once upon a time but, I took the high ground and told her what a mean spirited cow she was. Until she returns, I’m calling the shots and it would be unfair for me to abandon them. I’ve been there, done that, already.”
“Well, promise you’ll at least think about it, it’s not too late,” he pleaded, inching nearer to her, “And besides I miss you.”
She looked at him quizzically, bewildered by his last words.
He smiled quirkily as he leaned closer, maintaining eye contact and Spencer’s whole body trembled when his head came forward and his lips met hers.
Quickly, she pulled from him, tripping against the table behind her. She was confused by her own reaction; she had enjoyed his caress but was burnt with shame because she had broken a vow she had sworn to keep, that she would never get involved with anyone in a relationship. Relationships were too messy, as she knew to her own detriment when she had fallen in love with a two-timer deadbeat, resulting in an unwanted pregnancy.
Walker was shocked by the emotions acting out on her face and immediately realised he had crossed a line, one he hadn’t intended. What on earth had entered his head?
Moving slowly towards her, he said sorrowfully, wringing his hands, “Spencer, I’m sorry. I don’t know why I did that, it was a mistake. I’m begging you. Can we please keep it to ourselves?”
“You need to go, you need to leave,” Spencer cried, her voice breaking. She was awash with her own guilt and she didn’t want to be burdened with his.
Walker couldn’t move; he felt like a dear caught in a car’s headlights.
In a steadfast manner, Spencer made the decision to walk away from him, heading towards the door and without turning, said dully, “I can’t promise you that I can keep this to myself, it shouldn’t have happened but in other breaking news, I won’t be jumping trains anytime soon.”
Wracked with remorse, Walker faced the whiteboard, rocking back and forth, growling, “Christ, what have I done?” not feeling the pain as his head made contact with the board, with each word.
Dana was trudging awkwardly across the football field; it was slippery in places where small patches of snow still lay, and as she drew closer to the bleachers, she spied Parrish leaning on one of the railings, shoulders slacked with his head in his hands, looking totally dejected.
“Hi, Parrish,” she greeted, encroaching on his solitude. “Are you coming to glee club? It starts in ten minutes.”
He jumped slightly, he hadn’t seen or heard her approach but a lazy smile played upon his lips and he answered her, “I’ll be along in a few minutes,” but his tone stalled her.
“What’s wrong, Parrish?” Intuitively, she sensed he had a problem.
“Oh, it’s nothing really except I’m not happy. I didn’t get QB. Darius Bower was chosen instead… I don’t get it though, I’ve tried so hard to be the typical and all American boy and I thought I was doing pretty well with it but obviously, I’m deluding myself.”
Diplomatically, Dana replied, “I would imagine it’s very hard to act all American when you’re Brazilian born and what’s more, you shouldn’t have too. You should just be yourself, Parry, because everyone loves you for who you are and besides…” she added, bumping his arm, “You surely wouldn’t want to be like Darius Bower, an undisputed dickhead, would you?” Her voice heightened.
Pervasively, he wisecracked, “But at least I’d be the quarterback, if I was,” nudging her before cracking his comical smile.
“RIGHT!” Dana said positively, “Now that I’ve cheered you up, I was wondering if you’d like to do a duet for Vulnerability week, I think I’ve found the perfect song, it’s called “Be Yourself” and it’s by Audioslave. Do you know it?”
“No, I don’t think I do,” he told her, “But to answer your first question, yes, I will do a duet with you.”
“Oh,” she said with surprise, “I assumed you’d know it, since your so into Rock.”
“Well, I am in a fashion,” he remarked in a joke like manner, “But Rock is more Arrow’s thing than mine, honestly I like any type of music; I’m not a one trick pony.”
Dana, perching on the bleachers pulled him down aside and quickly opened her laptop, and at the same time, placed an hourglass between them.
“What on earth is that for?” He asked with disbelief.
“Well I know it sounds a little silly,” She said, grinning. “But it’s become somewhat of a tradition with me and Jess. We turn the hourglass and try to do our song before the sand runs out.”
“Ah well,” he chuckled back, “At least, it’s different I suppose.”
Dana wasn’t irked by his reaction, in fact, she was too busy searching for the “Be Yourself” lyrics on her laptop and when the page came up, they put their heads close to read them.
“So,” Dana instructed, “I’ll do the first verse, you pick up the tune and then we could take it from there.”
“Someone falls to pieces sleeping all alone. Someone kills the pain. Spinning in the silence. She finally drifts away. Someone gets excited. In a chapel yard. And catches a bouquet. Another lays a dozen. White roses on a grave. Yeah...” Sang Dana, feeding encouragement to Parrish.
“And to be yourself is all that you can do. Hey... To be yourself is all that you can do,” Dana stopped and let Parrish sing.
“Someone finds salvation in everyone. Another only pain. Someone tries to hide himself. Down inside himself he prays. Someone swears his true love. Until the end of time. Another runs away. Separate or united. Healthy or insane,” He sang with conviction.
“And to be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do). Yeah…To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do). To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do). Hey... Be yourself is all that you can do,” Parrish and Dana sang. He found that the song’s message was soothing his distressed mind and contrary to him. At ease in Dana’s presence, their vocal chemistry was perfect.
“Even when you've paid enough. Been put upon or been held up. With every single memory of. The good or bad, faces of luck. Don’t lose any sleep tonight. I’m sure everything will end up alright. You may win or lose.” Dana sang.
“But to be yourself is all that you can do. Yeah... To be yourself is all that you can do,” Parrish sang, underneath her.
“Ohhh... To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do). Ohhh... To be yourself is all that you can do (all that you can do). To be yourself is all that you can--- Be yourself is all that you can--- Be yourself is all that you can dooooooohoooo,” Parrish and Dana ended the song on a pleasing note.
His pupils dilated when he gazed intently into the dark pools of her eyes, infinitely drawn towards her. He pressed his moist lips against hers and she melted in his arms, in a passionate embrace.
Simultaneously, the last few grains of sand filtered through the hourglass.