The proposal

After the rehearsal Jake hovered near the door looking nervous. Deborah, one of the arts workers, smiled up at him. ‘We’ve gotta close up, mate. Haven’t you had enough?’

‘No,’ said Jake, the vowel long and strangled, the way he always formed it. To an unfamiliar ear it might have sounded traumatic.

Deborah shrugged. ‘Suit yourself,’ she said.

‘Nooo,’ he repeated. ‘I’m waiting for Emily.’

‘Are you her boyfriend?’

Jake blushed. ‘Maybe.’

‘Yeah,’ said Deborah. ‘I know the feeling.’

‘I haven’t asked her.’

‘You better do it then, hadn’t you.’

‘That’s why I’m waiting.’

‘Do you want me to make myself scarce?’ Deborah mimed walking away with her fingers.

‘Nooo.’

‘Do you want me to hurry her up?’

‘Yeah.’

‘OK.’ Deborah straightened Jake’s collar as she left the hall. She found Emily outside, waiting for her mum. ‘Anything wrong, Em?’

Emily shook her head.

‘Jake wanted to see you inside before you left.’

‘He did?’

‘Yes.’

‘Do I look alright?’

‘You look beautiful, Emily. In you go. I’ll be in in a minute.’

When she went to lock up, Jake and Emily were holding hands and singing a song from the show. ‘Good luck to you,’ she said. She wondered if Jacques would be home when she got there or if it even mattered any more.

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