Chapter Ten

‘You know I love you, don’t you?’ Guy whispered to me, as I lay with my head on his lap, his fingers gently stroking my hair. We were sitting on the blanket by the creek, listening to the nightlife and the frogs along the banks.

Suddenly everything seemed to be getting all too heavy for me. I sat up and looked out across the water, watching the reflections of the city lights dancing on the rippled surface.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked, anxiously.

I turned to face him, and took his hands in mine.

‘It’s . . . it’s just all a bit too much, too soon, mate. It’s not you. It’s me,’ I said to him. ‘As much as I care about you, please understand that I’m just not ready to take things that extra step further. At least, not yet.’

He didn’t say anything, and in the darkness his face was hidden by shadows, so I couldn’t see his expression. I couldn’t see if he was happy, or sad, or angry with me.

‘Please say something,’ I whispered to him.

‘It’s okay,’ he answered. ‘We do need to just take things one step at a time.’

‘You’re sure about that?’

‘Yeah, I’m sure,’ he answered, but once again I could hear that note of disappointment in his voice.

I leant across and kissed him, and whispered, ‘Thank you.’

I lay back down with my head on his lap and he started stroking my hair again.

‘That’s nice,’ I said to him.

‘I’m glad that you like it,’ he answered, before leaning down and kissing me.

It was after midnight when I got home, only this time here was no one waiting in my room for me. Everyone else was asleep, so I crept into my room, stripped off, then lay down on my bed, my head a crazy mixed up jumble of feelings and emotions.

I knew that Guy loved me, and I knew what it was that he wanted. I just wasn’t sure if I could give that to him. Well, not just yet anyway. And I also just hoped and prayed that he would be patient enough with me and not put any more pressure on me.

* * *

On Monday, at lunch time, Samantha pulled me aside, saying she wanted to ask me something, leaving Cameron, Ben and Guy all looking strangely at us.

I was more than curious as to what she may have wanted, and so I willingly followed her to the shade of one of the large pine trees, to hear her out.

‘I want to do something to the show,’ she whispered, excitedly. ‘You know, change something.’

‘Like what?’ I asked, feeling slightly annoyed. We were now less than two weeks away from opening night, Friday of the following week, and were about to start daily rehearsals after school every day. ‘It’s a bit late for that isn’t it?’

‘I want to change the last song in the show, that’s all. We haven’t even started practicing the one we have down for that spot. We could easily change it.’

I knew what she meant by that. She was right. It would be simple to slot something else in there if we wanted to.

‘What did you have in mind?’ I asked her.

‘Using that last song from the movie,’ she answered, with a grin.

I smiled back at her and said, ‘So it’s been stuck in your head all weekend too, huh?’

She nodded and asked, ‘What do you think?’

‘I like it. But do you think we would be able to convince Snowy into letting us do it without either of them knowing?’ I asked, jerking my head towards Guy and Ben.

We looked across at them and saw that they were both studying us carefully.

‘Why can’t they know?’ she asked.

‘Let’s just surprise them, shall we?’

She looked across at the three of them, then giggled. ‘I like that idea,’ she answered.

We decided that we would see Snowy at rehearsals that afternoon and spring our surprise on him, then returned to our friends, grinning, while they looked up at us suspiciously.

‘What are you two up to?’ Ben asked as I sat back down between him and Guy.

‘Just never you mind,’ I answered, giving him a wink as I did so.

They continued to look suspiciously at us through what was left of our lunch break, then after the bell rang, we all went off to our classes.

That afternoon after school, when we were supposed to be at the first of our daily rehearsals, I got Guy to drive me downtown so I could go to the music store and pick up a new CD. We parked right outside the store and I asked him to wait in the car while I ran inside.

‘Just what’s going on?’ he asked me.

I just smiled and said, ‘If you ask no questions, you’ll be told no lies.’

* * *

Rehearsals that afternoon went really well.

Ben and Guy presented their ideas about the set designs to Snowy, who became quite excited afterwards, sending them both straight off to the administration building to try and find a slide projector and some screens so they could get a look at how it all may work.

This gave Samantha and me the perfect opportunity to make our pitch to Snowy about changing the final song.

He eyed us suspiciously when we first made the suggestion, but when we played him the song (through some headphones of course), we watched as his eyes widened and he started smiling.

‘Well?’ I asked, as he took the headphones off.

‘I think it will do,’ he answered.

‘And do you think that the band can learn it, and we can practice it, in secret?’ Samantha asked.

He was curious as to why we wanted it that way, but when we told him that it would be a surprise to everyone, and we thought that it would just blow everyone away as a finale, he eventually agreed.

‘Thanks,’ Samantha said to him, quickly reaching up and giving him a kiss on the cheek.

We carried on with the rehearsals for a little while longer, managing to learn some lines of dialogue that Snowy had given us and also work through a few more songs. With less than two weeks to go now, everything was finally falling into place.

Ben and Guy returned a little while later, bearing their trophies; a slide projector and a projection screen, which Snowy eyed suspiciously. They lugged everything up onto the stage and set up the screen in the middle of the stage, while someone managed to find a small table on which they set up the projector.

‘And just how is this all going to work?’ Snowy asked, looking somewhat perplexed.

‘Well, we set this up in the middle of the stage and put some props around it, like some pot plants or something,’ Ben said to him, with his hand sitting on top of the projector. ‘Then we set up a table over there in the wings, where we control it all from.’

‘But we’re going to need bigger screens that this one,’ Guy added. ‘And maybe we could get two or more projectors and have them working at the same time, put the screens at an angle or something? We’d just have to make sure that the screens were far enough back and the images were large enough for everyone to see.’

Snowy scratched his chin and walked up and down the stage a bit, looking from the projector to the screen, then to Guy and Ben, who were looking anxious in the middle of the stage.

‘Well, you’re right, this type of screen just won’t do,’ Snowy told them.

I looked at the guys and they were nodding in agreement.

‘I think what we need is one very large white wall,’ Snowy continued. ‘Or maybe it should curve around, or even be two walls, set at an angle. With one projector pointing at one wall, while the second one points at the other wall. Then you can change from one scene to another, or maybe have two images side by side creating a really large scene.’

The further he went, the more excited he became. It looked like Ben and Guy might have just come up with a brilliant idea here after all.

It wasn’t long after that, however, when Snowy noticed a throng of students yawning and starting to look tired, that he called a halt to the day’s rehearsal and sent us all home.

‘Tomorrow,’ he said to us all. ‘We’ll work again tomorrow’.

Then he waved us all away.

* * *

The days went by so fast, and the closer we came to the opening night, the more nervous I was becoming. Everyone kept doing their best to encourage me, telling me that it would all go according to plan, but inside I was a nervous wreck.

Night after night we practiced . . . getting things wrong and having to do them over and over again . . . getting things right and being praised by Snowy for how brilliant we were. It wasn’t easy, but we were getting there.

And Ben and Guy were doing an amazing job as well, with the very simple sets they had decided upon. In the end they used frames with plain white sheets stretched over them as screens, while projecting the images, many of which they captured around the town, onto them from behind, ensuring that there was no chance of anyone walking between the projectors and the screens. The end result was a show which, from start to finish, was an intimate reflection of our town and some of the people who lived in it. It really was going to be a brilliant production.

The only downside was when Ben, Guy and I walked into the dressing room one night to find Samantha and Cameron having another argument.

‘It’s over, Cam. How many times do I have to say it?’ we heard Samantha say, then they both noticed us there and clammed up. Cameron looked upset, but then he just stormed out past us, deliberately knocking into Ben as he did so, or so it seemed to us.

Samantha called after him and said, ‘Oh, do grow up Cameron,’ but nothing more was said after that.

At home, my troubles seemed to be continuing. My father was still going on and on about the show being a waste of time and nothing but an excuse to get dressed up and put make-up on, while Jason was still being his usual pain in the arse self.

Mum was being supportive and kept saying how excited she was about the upcoming show, so at least there was still someone on my side.

Then, even before we knew it, it was time for a full dress rehearsal.

Traditionally the dress rehearsal was the chance for everyone at the school to see the show; however, Snowy dug his heels in this time, in spite of the principal’s cajoling, pleas or threats, with the dress rehearsal being held on the night before opening, and behind closed doors.

I wish I could say that it went brilliantly, but it didn’t. Props didn’t make it onto the stage. Cast members (including me), forgetting their lines, the stage curtain got stuck half way and, of course, someone tripped over the extension cord which supplied power to the two projectors.

Basically, it was a disaster.

Then, unexpectantly, right before Samantha and I were due to sing our final song, Snowy decided that enough was enough and said, ‘All right, that will do for tonight. See you tomorrow.’

We all stood there looking dumfounded, but when Sam and I both noticed him wink at us, we knew what his game was.

* * *

After our final rehearsal was over and we had changed out of the costumes and back into our ordinary clothes, Ben and Samantha went off on their own, while Guy asked what I felt like doing.

I just smiled at him.

‘Yeah, but where?’ he asked.

‘My place if you like? Everyone is out tonight, so we won’t be disturbed.’

‘Sounds good to me, then.’

We walked down to the car just on dusk, in that curious half-light that isn’t quite night and yet isn’t daylight anymore either. There was no one else around, with just about everyone else having left earlier, and so Guy slipped his hand into mine.

I quickly pulled back, and he no doubt saw the panic on my face.

‘There’s no one else around,’ he said. ‘And besides, it’s almost dark.’

I glanced around and saw that he was right, then relented and reached my hand out towards his. He took my hand in his and we walked that way for the last hundred yards down to the car park.

‘This is nice,’ he said to me.

‘Yeah, it is,’ I answered, but I couldn’t help but still be nervous.

We got into the car and headed towards my house, where I was hoping that no one would be home. My parents had said that they had something on with Dad’s work, being near the end of the year and all, while Jason was staying with some friends. I just hoped they all remembered that.

‘That was a bit odd with Snowy canceling the dress rehearsal just before the final number tonight?’ Guy said to me as we turned into my street.

‘Hmmm,’ was all I managed to come out with in reply.

‘You and Samantha have got it all down pat though don’t you?’

‘Yeah. It’ll be all right. It’s just that last song, and we’ll have another practice of it tomorrow I hope.’

He reached across and placed his hand on my knee.

‘You’ve done an amazing job so far,’ he said to me. ‘I’m so proud of you.’

I placed my hand over his and looked across at him, seeing him looking at me and smiling.

‘Thank you,’ I said to him. ‘That means a lot to me.’

We pulled into our driveway and found that the house was in darkness. Apparently they had all remembered their plans.

I felt like pumping my fists into the air and yelling, ‘YES,’ but settled for a smug grin.

While Guy locked the car I walked up to the house and let us both in, switching on the hall lights as I went. Guy soon joined me inside, closing the door behind him and leaning back against it, with a seductive smile on his lips.

‘Feel like a drink first?’ I asked him. He simply shook his head.

I walked over to him and placed my hand on his chest, then leaned in and kissed him. He kissed me back, reaching down as he did so and gently rubbing the growing bulge in my trousers.

We put our arms around each other, our lips still locked together, then waltzed our way into the living room, collapsing onto the lounge, with his body on mine, with Guy gently grinding himself into me.

In the darkness, we fumbled with each other’s clothes, managing to do little more than undo shirts and pants, instead preferring to leave our lips locked together.

This carried on for a little while, until eventually Guy and his body movements went a little too far and he overbalanced, landing with a thud on the floor, amidst giggles from both of us.

He quickly sat back up on the lounge beside me and I soon rested my head on his shoulder, while he draped an arm around me, his fingers gently caressing my chest, while he held my hand in his other.

It was a beautiful moment.

‘I love you,’ he whispered, and I couldn’t help it, I suddenly broke away from him, sitting up on the lounge and burying my head in my hands.

‘What’s wrong?’ he asked me.

I lifted my head and looked across at him. He was studying me intently, his face contorted with fear and confusion.

I simply shook my head.

‘Come on Tim, speak to me please. Don’t you love me?’

At that point I didn’t know how I felt. And I didn’t know how I could tell him that.

‘I’ve told you I love you. Christ, I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve told you that. When are you going to tell me that you love me?’ he pleaded.

I looked up at him again, and by this time we both had tears in our eyes. Inside my head, there were a million emotions running around, being chased by a million questions.

‘Why can’t I say it?’ I asked myself. They are only three little words.

Guy was still looking at me, his face filled with anguish.

‘Say it!’ I almost screamed at myself.

But all I managed to say was, ‘I . . . err . . .’ then I looked away from him and once again buried my head in my hands, ashamed with myself for not being able to say out loud the three words that I knew I felt, but couldn’t bring to my lips.

The next thing I heard was the sound of the front door slamming. I opened my eyes and Guy was gone. I ran after him, running out the front door and onto the porch.

He was standing by his car, the driver’s side door opened, with one foot already inside the car and just about to get in behind the wheel. He looked up and saw me standing there. I could see the pain he was in. I wondered what it was that he was seeing when he looked at me.

Without saying a word, he wiped the tears from his eyes, then got into the car and started it up.

I watched him as he backed the car out of the driveway, took one last look at me, then drove away.