You know what I don’t like? Sitting around, twiddling my thumbs and having to wait for work to come to me. I know I should be proactive, but when work doesn’t exist it’s a little difficult to be all gung ho over it. My parents have been complaining, but come on, you have to blame the government, don’t you? And, the media. All the hype last year about not having enough teachers has turned into just as much hype about not enough students. I wish they’d make up their minds.
Luckily, I’ve managed to secure a casual position at the Association of Science Teachers. Not ideal, but at least I don’t have to scab off my parents for fuel money. And I can pay for my own car insurance. Whoop-dee-do. That’s all small potatoes, though.
I can’t believe I’m writing this down; I’m such a boring person. Then again, I guess no one is going to be sticking their noses’ into my journal, are they? I mean, the ramblings of an average Australian woman who doesn’t have a spectacular life aren’t going to interest anyone in particular. Of course, in my opinion, it’s been a pretty speccy life, so far. But, doesn’t everyone think that about their own lives, no matter how ordinary they are?
Okay, so I’m not being entirely honest am I? But, my life is ordinary now. Let’s just forget about that three year period where I was not living at home in a normal suburban bungalow. I mean, not that it was bad…just…well, I’ve compartmentalised that part of my life to be treasured in my own private moments, too private even for this journal.
Anyway. After graduating last year, I was hoping that I’d get a job, quick smart. It didn’t happen, though. Which just sucks. But, that’s life for you. Well, at least it would be, except that ever since coming home, I’ve become more serious about my life. Or, to be more exact, my spiritual life. Which naturally translates to me going to church regularly.
I’ve found this great church in the city that’s just the right fit with where I’m at, right now. I’m not new to this. I was raised in the belief, but I wasn’t really serious about it. It’s kind of ironic my science degree was the catalyst that made me start thinking on it more. That was a few years ago, though. It just sort of came back to me in the last year. I guess that makes me a weird Christian.
Not that any of that matters to anyone, but me. Anywho, I have to stop here. The phone just rang. It was Mercy School asking to see if I can come in and do some relief. High maintenance teenaged kids, here I come…
The traffic was unbelievable heading down Reid Highway. It was as if it were conspiring to make me late to school. It reminded me of one time when I had been in the van with the guys on the way to a show in Laval. The city wasn’t normally known for major jams, not like here in Perth. But, that one time it had been insane. Not until after we had arrived at the venue did we find out that there had been a massive prang right on the main highway.
The guys, being the generous young men they were, had cruised through the gig, and then spent the rest of the night trying to get details on the incident. Then they promised donations to the victims of the crash. I guess that whole road safety thing they had going on with their video for ‘Untitled’ was still having lasting effects.
I looked over my shoulder, just as an impatient tradey swerved around me, hollering abuse at my closed window. I fought the urge to roll my eyes. It wouldn’t make any difference to the way I felt, and the tradey wouldn’t even see it. Though, he used to say it made him lose some of the weight from his shoulders. But, then, he was a singer in a band…he had been a little cocky with it.
I slid through the school gates that thought being brushed aside by those of the approaching day. Nodding my head to several students as I parked, I then made my way to the relief office. Mr Browne, the co-ordinator, was already at his desk, dangling my keys and class files.
“Morning, Marly.” He smiled a warm expression that I was always grateful to see every time I came in. He reminded me of my grandpa, actually. An older man, with a lot of wisdom sparkling out of very clear brown eyes, he had that sort of trustworthy air that you knew you could count on all the time.
“Morning.” I leaned against the edge of the desk, smiling back at him. “Who am I today?”
He grinned. “You’re Mark today. He’s in all day, but he had a heap of marking to do. Oh, and he has to write some submission for that NOVA contest.” He held the files out to me. I took them, flipping through them to see which classes were there.
“For his band, right?” I asked as I counted the classes. There were five today, and one yard duty.
“Yes.” Mr Browne nodded, handing me the key. “Anyway, he said if you need anything you can ask him. He’s in the staffroom, now. Or he’ll be in the Year Eight or Science office during the day.”
“Great.” I hung the lanyard around my neck, the key dangling. “Well, have a good day.”
Mr Browne smiled more. “You too.”
I left the office and made my way to the staffroom.
I was about to reach for the door when I heard a student coming up next to me. Glancing to my side, I recognised one of the Grade Ten girls. Sian, I think her name was. She was one of the more outgoing of the students in one of the Science classes I subbed. She was always trying to get me to tell her my life story, and made me feel like a teenager again, myself.
I smiled at her. “Morning, Sian?”
She smiled, acting as if she were shocked. “You remembered my name.”
I pretended to look offended. “I’ve been doing relief here for how long now?”
“Almost one term, miss,” Sian gave a bright grin, bouncing a little on the balls of her shoes. She was clutching a pile of folders to her breasts. “Anyway, guess what?”
“What?” I moved aside as the door opened and some teachers came out. I nodded to them while keeping one ear on the student.
“Mr Ross told us you were coming in to take our Science lesson, today.”
Mr Ross, Mark, the teacher I was being today. Trust him to tell his Year Ten class I was taking them. He knew I liked that class the best.
Nodding, I smirked. “Yes, I am.” I glanced at my files. “I think I have you guys last today.”
Sian kept smiling at me. I had to a laugh a little. She grinned, a bit more, and then bounced off with a chirpy ‘See you later, Miss’. Shaking my head, I headed into the staffroom.
* * * * *
I looked up from my schedule to see Mark standing there, smiling down at me. He’s not what you’d call classically handsome. For a start, he’s a red head with quite pale skin. But, his eyes were the most stunning part of his anatomy. His irises were the most unusual shade of hazel, with little flecks of green and brown. They’re what attracted me to him the first time I met him. That and his infectious grin.
“Hey, how’re you?” I sat back, slipping the paper into my file.
Mark took the seat opposite mine; resting his elbows against the table we were seated at. He took several moments before he answered, seeming to choose his words carefully. “My band’s playing tonight at Irish Flynn’s in Yokine. You know the place?”
I nodded slowly; I went there a lot with my girlfriends. “Yes, it’s just down from K’s place.”
“Yeah, anyway, was wondering if you wanted to come down and watch. It’s Friday…” He lifted his eyebrows at me. As if that would be enough to convince me.
I retorted, “Thank God for Friday’s, eh?”
Mark chuckled, absently playing with the cuffs of his shirtsleeves. He was endearing like that. Always fiddling with his clothing. He always looked good too. Even though he was wearing what he called his ‘school uniform’. I wanted to adjust his tie, though. It was slightly skewiff. I had to tear my eyes away before he thought I was staring at him; refocussing my gaze on the notes in front of me, I heaved a sigh.
He looked at me. “So, what about it? Going to come along?”
Nodding, I gathered my things together just as the bell rang. “Of course. I’ll be there. Was kind of wondering what I was going to do tonight.” Because, I rarely did anything on Friday nights. It was usually the one night I reserved for myself, a book and steaming mug of tea my usual companions.
But, hey…I was doing this for myself right? Or maybe I was doing it for Mark. What did it matter? Knowing Mark’s band, it would be a very good night. And I deserved to treat myself every now and again.
Mark smiled gratefully, waving at me as I made the return trip to the door and out into the mass of students that were rushing to get to their first class of the day.
* * * * *
Irish Flynn’s was packed. I don’t think I’ve ever seen the pub so busy before. Then, again, I don’t usually come here on a Friday night.
Usually they have some form of live entertainment and tonight the place was buzzing with expectation. I believe they haven’t had a band of the likes which Mark’s is. I’m not quite sure how you would categorise his band. I asked some of the students in his classes, earlier in the day. I think some of them were surprised that I was even interested in ‘Mr Ross’s’ band. Not that they really knew anything of my music tastes. Except for Sian who figured out that I was a Simple Plan fan, thanks to an unobtrusive sticker on my diary.
Anyway, it’s not easy to categorise Mark’s band, and the students told me this much. One girl even went so far to accuse me of pigeon-holing the band and said I was crazy if I thought that was important. I didn’t argue with the girl, after all I’d had plenty of experience with a band who didn’t like to be put in a box.
Also, with a name like Fools Rush In, it didn’t add any easy pointers to what they could be. An Elvis Presley tribute band for all anyone could discern from just seeing the band name. But, Mark would instantly disabuse anyone of that notion. He’s not a huge Elvis fan. Neither am I, to be honest. I wasn’t really ever much for the crooning style. Though, I admit that the many covers that I’d heard were pleasing enough to the ear, especially if sung by my favourite singers.
Not that I had many favourite singers. I think I could count them on one hand. Mark was one of them, as well as several well known Australian vocalists, including Kav Temperley of Eskimo Joe and John Farnham…of no band at all. Then there was him. But, I didn’t think of him too often for fear of allowing a set of emotions I didn’t want to give into, to run their gamut.
“Hey, you’re Mark’s mystery girl?”
I glanced back over my shoulder, searching out the owner of the voice that had just spoken to me. A young woman with bright green eyes – they had to be contacts – stood to the right of the table I had secured. Bianca. The band’s new guitarist. I turned, smiling at her.
“I’m not anyone’s girl, let alone Mark’s mystery one,” I said with a soft laugh.
She tilted her head to the side, causing her shoulder-length hair to brush against her shoulders. “Mind if I join you? The guys are busy sound-checking.”
“Shouldn’t you be up there with them?” I asked in return.
Bianca pretended to look miffed. “They call themselves professionals, but they take forever. I was done in less than five minutes.” There was obvious affection in her tone, which was evidence enough for me that she really cared for the other guys in the band.
I smirked. “Well, pull up a chair, then.”
She did as I invited, propping her elbows against the table. “So, you know Mark from school?”
Smiling at the way she instantly returned to her interrogatory mode, I answered, “Yeah. I do relief at the school he teaches at.” I shrugged. “There’s no permanent teaching work going around. And at any rate, I haven’t been out of uni that long.”
Bianca nodded, rocking absently on her chair. “Mark said you were smart.” She giggled, “What’re you doing at a gig like this?”
I felt a flush of heat bloom on my cheeks and ducked my head down. Gripping my handbag, which was still on my lap, I felt suddenly self-conscious. There was a pause for a moment, and then she laughed the tone warm.
“Aww, geeze…there I go…embarrassing you. I’m sorry. Mark said to go easy on you.”
I blinked, looking up at her. “Whatever for?” That surprised me. I wondered why he would suggest such a thing.
Bianca’s lips, they were painted a pale pink, curved up as she regarded me with a knowing look. “He said you were probably not used to this kind of scene.”
I found myself resisting the urge to roll my eyes for the second time that day. Mark had no idea at all, did he? But that was my doing. I hadn’t told him about my past. At least not the part about having been with the lead singer of Simple Plan for three years. I just hadn’t felt compelled to mention that to anyone, apart from those who were closest to me. And, even though he was quite close in a collegiate kind of way, it was still more of a professional relationship than a personal one.
“It’s cool.” I shot a reassuring smile her way. “I guess I’ll get used to it.”
Bianca grinned so hard, I thought her cheeks might crack. “Oh, goody. Does that mean you’ll come again?”
I couldn’t help but smile back at her. “Hmmm, I’ll see how well you guys play first.”
She laughed some more. “There I go again, shooting myself in the foot. Of course you have to see if you actually like us.”
I already did like the band. Mark had played me some of their music one lunch time at school. It was different to what I was used to listening to, but at the same time it was something fresh and new to my ears, and that was enough for me to become a tentative fan.
Leaning against the table, I said, “I’m sure you don’t have to worry about that.”
Bianca cocked her head at me, but then we both heard Mark calling out her name.
“You’d better go.”
“Shite I better go.” We both spoke at the same time. Then we both laughed. Bianca grinned as she sprang to her feet. “Let me know what you think after.”
“Will do. If I’m still here,” I said, jokingly.
She pointed a finger at me. “I’ll tell on you to Mark, if you’re not.”
Settling back on my seat, I waved her off toward the stage. I wasn’t too sure whether she were joking or not, but I knew she didn’t really need to be anxious about whether I’d do a runner, or not. I had nothing better to do with my time.
Bianca kept pointing at me as she waltzed away from my table. I just smiled in response, crossing my legs at the knees.
She joined the guys on the stage and leaned over to Mark to say something in his ear. I grinned and waved when she made him look where I was sitting. When his eyes met mine, he flashed a thumbs up my way then slung his bass over his shoulders as he prepared to greet the crowd. With that infectious grin, and his ‘take me away from this life’ voice, I knew that a lot of people would probably fall for the band tonight.
I knew for a fact that I’d probably be one of those people. But, who cared really? In all honesty, I was up for a change. And maybe that would bode well for my future.