Though her heart could not yet settle, perhaps because of the intense proximity to Lucas (his golf-styled jumper was mere centimetres away for her to touch!), Andrea felt more than happiness exhilarating her motions. The shock- anxiety, too- dissipated as she looked into Léa’s eyes, honest and true-tinted, just as her brother’s were.
“I forgot...” Andrea muttered, with an airy giggle. Then she cleared her throat. “It’s nice to meet you, Léa.”
The woman named Léa imitated Andrea’s giggle, but it was clear that she hadn’t meant to. There were none of the mocking smears about her that Andrea had seen Christine give her whenever Keith managed to worm his way into their conversations. Andrea swallowed; she didn’t want to think about what she was doing to Keith, or what his expression would be if he... Well, that was only a conditional clause.
“Likewise,” repeated Léa, after Andrea had not seemed to give a reply.
“Oh, sorry...” she said, sheepishly turning pink. It didn’t help that she had been looking in Lucas’ direction when she had stopped sensing and started to think of the past. But she wasn’t that smitten, was she?
Nevertheless, Andrea shook her head for the final time. She had only just taken her seat when the house-lights faded to black, a spotlight of white thrust onto the school stage.
“I’ve heard it’s gonna be good,” whispered Lucas. “The rehearsals were full of student excitement and excellence.”
“Shh,” Léa scolded. Andrea loved the way she spoke to her brother: with little hatred but with the voice of one who teased quite a lot. The friendship between them was obvious; it delighted Andrea to have them both sitting beside her.
“What would you know about the rehearsals?” Andrea added in a hush.
“Oh you of little faith.”
“Uh huh.” Andrea’s voice slid to utter quiet as the first performer stepped onstage. Taking centre-stage was the character of Viola, surrounded by the rows and rows of smaller students, perhaps Year Sevens, dressed in tight black outfits and waving blue streamers in her face. Water, turmoil, beauty: all portrayed through a section of swift hand-movements and tapping footfalls.
“Ah, Physical Theatre. The art of the dance and play. The tinge of not-quite naturalistic.” Her own words sounded as if they should have been falling from Lucas’ lips.
“How did you…?” For once, Lucas couldn’t conceal his surprise with a cheeky grin. Andrea loved having such power. She stifled a giggle as she whispered back:
“Oh, did I forget to mention that Drama was one of the subjects I took for the General Certificate of Education? I’ll show you pictures of me in one production; they’re part of the Drama Studio montage somewhere.”
Léa leaned over, giving Andrea’s hand a playful slap, her eyebrows crafted high in mischief. She nodded to the play and no more. They both knew what parts she was acting, too, but Andrea couldn’t help putting on the innocent face, playing still.
And so it went on, Andrea ever-distracted from the movement onstage as she kept glancing back to watch the slouched Lucas in silence with her soul thrumming in line. Their fingers lingered over each other with every Shakespearian sentence. They kept reaching back and forth, both Andrea and Lucas almost oblivious to their own actions. Like her fingers, there was the tingling great across her body, like a giggle that she kept suppressed and subconscious.
And, in the second of swift monologue-
“If music be the food of love, play on.”
-the hands settled one over the other in a caress. Lucas’ warm fingers settled into place, matching as if he had been made for her. His fingers stroked her own, before gently sliding to her waist and lower.
There almost passed a full act, before something pulled Andrea from her enjoyment of the Shakespearian arts. And this time it was not the affection that hung around Lucas. She tore her eyes away from the stage, distracted by a movement in the foyer.
There was a face at the theatre door, not one of the performers, but a guest, someone who had come to watch the play. Andrea frowned at the face, hit with the pangs before she realised what they were- or, more exactly, who it was standing there.
One of the ushers- another modern and young teacher, Andrea noticed- leant to from his place and opened the door, but the figure shrank into the shadows, shaking his head. At the usher’s expression, the figure stepped through the performance portal, leaning in and indicating a row in the tiered seating. It was this that caught Andrea’s eyes, really. It was towards her that the figure motioned.
And then he looked up to her, shattering a fourth wall that was her life’s kind of dance.
Street-brown eyes hit her own; out of the many people there watching, only Andrea would have been sharp enough to notice the wiry black of the man’s short goatee. Keith.
Andrea’s blood froze; what on earth was he doing here? Confusion and nerves made her feel so sick that she would have liked to lock herself in a cubicle and force the false to spill from her ovaled lips.