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Rose Lane Ch7

by Jubbly 

Posted: 16 December 2003
Word Count: 2253
Summary: Chapter seven of my ongoing novel The Rose Lane Musical Society, the other chapters are in the archive on my profile.

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Chapter Seven

When they reached the bottom of the stairs at Engadine Station a distressing sign greeted them.
"Oh for Gods sake, they couldn't tell you before you walk all the way down the bloody steps could they?" Pattie mopped her brow with a floral hankie and tut tutted.
"What will we do?" asked Melanie, disturbed at being thwarted at this stage of the adventure.
Pattie inclined her head to one side and frowned.
"Can't you miss just one? No one will mind, I'll ring Miss Lorraine for you and she can call Brian."
"But the costumes designer's coming in today, Brian said we have to get our costumes ready before the dress rehearsal, we have to go."
Melanie felt desperate, now she knew what her mother meant when she constantly complained about living in the suburbs.
Pattie tapped on the station masters window- "Excuse me, can we get the fast train from Sutherland?"
He spoke with an accent, probably Italian Melanie thought.
Shaking his head and screwing up his pudgy face into a garlic doughball of bad news.
"Nah, signal failure further up, no connections until Tempe."
"Tempe? Oh God. I'm sick to death of living out here in the sticks, come on Melanie let's go home." Pattie grabbed her daughters hand and marched her right out of the station.
"I don't know what else to do Melanie, we can't fly there can we?"
Melanie shook her head despondently.
Then her mothers expression changed from one of resignation to determination.
"Come on, I didn't fight in the war to be defeated by some stupid, bloody, signal failure. " said Pattie, almost dragging her back up the stairs, "We'll phone your father."

When the old coffee coloured Plymouth pulled up, Melanie was joyous, a contrast to how she usually felt whenever she saw her dad's silly old car. Usually she felt embarrassed , all her friends parents had modern cars, even their neighbours bright orange Charger seemed superior to the old Plymouth. When the Charger left its driveway, the local kids stood by the road side and gave it a two finger salute, just like the advert on the television, shouting out 'Hey Charger'!" even that was preferable to the points and jeers that accompanied the Plymouth . But today she could have thrown her whole body across the bonnet and kissed it. Cassie the mongrel cross kelpie sat in the front next to Sid, her rightful place and Melanie and her mother took their seats in the back.
Sid wasn't happy, he'd been busy building another shed, then he had big plans to give Cassie a bath in the old metal tub. Now here he was on his way into the city, and Sid hated driving to the city.
"I'll have to fill her up, tut, tut why couldn't you just come home?" Sid moaned.
"She can't miss a rehearsal, they're expecting her."
"She's not playing the lead part is she?"
"That's not the point," argued Pattie, " We've made a commitment and it's not professional not to turn up to rehearsals."

" What do you mean professional, its a bloody amateur musical society, isn't it? Nothing professional about them, just a talentless bunch of bludgers with nothing better to do."

And so it went on all the way to Tempe station.
When Melanie finally arrived at rehearsal she was a full 45 minutes late and the ballet was in full swing. She and Pattie sneaked in the room, pressing themselves up against the back wall, trying to appear invisible. Miss Sanderson's star pupil, Jenny from the city school of course was gliding through the air, no one noticed the precious young man holding her high above his head, all eyes were on the fair Jenny. He huffed and puffed with self importance, but to no avail, unless a male dancer is leaping twelve feet in the air while spinning plates he's just a crane for the lovely, fragile ballerinas and as long as he's wearing a jock strap under his tights, no won really notices him. .
When he lowered Jenny to the floor and stood back as she effortlessly pirouetted across the stage before taking her final pose, everyone clapped. Lovely Jenny curtsied and her invisible partner took a bow. Tiny beads of perspiration glistened on her forehead and she exited stage left remembering her graceful ballet run.

"Oh yes, very nice, lovely work." said Brian . As he turned around his eyes fell on Melanie still in her coat and clutching her dance bag.
"Well, hurry up dear, all the kids are being fitted in the dressing room, chop, chop."
Vera shoot a disapproving glare at Pattie. Vera was never late, how rude.

There was an odd atmosphere that day, Brian looked tired and smoked more than usual if that was possible. He snapped at Mrs Petrauskas when she played the wrong intro to a song. Mrs Petrauskas tensed her cartilaginous shoulders and pulled a silly face, Melanie though she looked just like a lizard, a frilled neck lizard, her antique lace collar setting off her new reptilian status to perfection. Whenever Miranda tried to discuss anything privately, in that dangerous conspiratorial manner she had, Brian brushed her away with a hand gesture, not now, later it seemed to say. Melanie noticed he kept criticising Ronnie , the young man who played Prince Chululongkorn, first his costume, then his attempt at eye make up , everything about him annoyed Brian.

"Ronnie, I said cross down stage in front of Tuptim, will you please do as I say and do not try any of your own improvements!"

Ronnie stood with his hands on his hips in defiance.
Ronnie was a short man, about 5 6", and a little too tubby to play the romantic ingenue but he had huge dark eyes, almost black . His hair curled at the nape of his neck and he was invariably found flexing his muscular biceps.
The young girls had already noticed him, Angela made no secret of her feelings for him.
"Do you think Ronnie's too old for me?" She asked one Saturday afternoon while they were sipping strawberry milkshakes bought from the milk bar downstairs.

"What do you mean?" asked Melanie, innocently.

"You know, to go round with, I reckon he'd be really great at pashing off. "

Melanie couldn't believe what she was hearing, Ronnie must have been at least 25 years old, the very idea of kissing someone that age made her feel quite sick, it just wasn't normal.

"I think he's a bit old, " she stressed.
"What do you know," sneered Angela, "you're just a kid."

"I'm 12, the same age as you."

Angela rolled her eyes and pulled a face which she mistakenly thought made her look sophisticated but in reality made her look like a chicken.

"I'm nearly 13 and my periods have started, bet yours haven't."
Melanie, nodded, "Yeah they have."

"Liar!" shot back Angela, "They have not, I know they haven't cause your mum told my mum you still haven't got them, ha ha, and you don't even wear a proper bra just one of those stupid baby things. Anyway you're just jealous cause you know Ronnie would never go for you you're just a kid to him."

Melanie didn't think it was possible to hate her mother as much as she did at that moment, gossiping traitor.

While everyone watched the enchanted duet performed by Ronnie and Jeanette in their roles as Prince Chululongkorn and Tuptim in rapt joy, Brian tapped his fingernails on the table and lit another cigarette.

"Stop!" he bellowed causing the crooning couple to break away from each other , like a ripped perforated paper edge.

"Oh please, can we see a bit of passiona, you're meant to be madly in love with each other, ready to die just to be together - to spend one precious hour in your lovers arms. Ronnie! For Christ's sake you look like you'd rather be weeding the garden, that can be arranged my dear. Go on, it's a Saturday afternoon, go home and cut your mother's grass, no doubt you'd be more useful back in dreary Annandale or wherever it is you've had to come in from than here pretending you deserve to be centre stage in one of our productions. "

Everyone gasped, how horrible they thought. Even Maureen , who generally took Brian's outbursts with a pinch of salt, looked concerned. All the mothers gaped, knitting needles and crochet hooks cast aside, the Royal children's ornate little heads popped out of the dressing room to gawk.
"Ouch!" cried Cindy Simms when Teresa, the dressmaker accidentally stabbed her thigh with a tacking pin.
"Whoops, sorry luv."

Ronnie bowed his head in an attempt to conceal his blushing. His Tuptim gently put her hand on his shoulder but he brushed it off and crossed his arms in rebellion. Ronnie stamped his right foot in a childish fit of pique and left the room, slamming the door dramatically on his way out. Brian just stood there, watching him go. Miranda, rolled her over made up eyes, took out her newspaper and pretended to do the crossword.
As ever Maureen came to the rescue.

"Uhem, as you are aware, especially those of you who have been with us before, opening night tends to get very over subscribed , so if any of you would like tickets for friends and family please write your names down on this list. Off you go now, we don't want anyone to miss out. "

Brian , cigarette packet firmly clenched in his hand, left the room without a word. Pattie rushed over to sign up her names, there was herself of course and Sid, Nanna - her mother and her sister Jean.

Melanie needed to go to the lavatory, she was quite desperate but her costume of Chinese satin pyjama bottoms and matching top still needed stitching. Every time she moved the pins pricked her. The toilets were way up on the 3rd floor, the one above the rehearsal room, she just had to go.

Melanie didn't bother with the antiquated lift and climbed as fast as the jabbing pins would allow up the stairs. When she reached the top she thought she could hear voices, it was always a bit scary on the third floor and the kids usually went in pairs, but the car journey in had taken ages, as had the wait at Tempe station for the connecting train, she just simply had to go now. On her way back after successfully negotiating the half made costume with the toilet bowl she heard voices, they were coming from the 4th floor and they were definitely male. She'd never been up there before but somehow Angela's' catty remarks about her being just a kid had made her want to do something daring, she climbed the stairs as quietly as she could and crept along the corridor. The last door on the right was slightly ajar, she gently pushed it open a fraction, then peered around the door into the room.

An unexpected tableau awaited her. Prince Chululongkorn and Brian were sitting on a small leather sofa, very close together, Brian seemed to be whispering in Ronnie's ear and Ronnie nodded, they both laughed and Brian leant over and kissed him on the lips, leaving his hand free to caress Ronnie's thigh. Ronnie groaned then Brian undid the top button of his gold satin Prince Chululongkorn pantaloons and slid his hand inside,

Melanie's intake of breath was almost audible, she stepped back from the door then raced down the stairs ignoring the pain from the pins. All the way downstairs back to the dressing room and her impatient mother.

"There you are Melanie, hurry up , you need to try on the headress."

So Melanie had officially entered the murky mystery world of adults. Where murmured secrets and clandestine meetings were commonplace, sentences half finished when the eavesdropping child is noticed. Rolled eyes and knowing winks, long inexplicable words spoken and fingers quickly pressed to lips when the child's presence interrupts. All things Melanie didn't yet fully understand but possessed a sixth sense when it came to noticing things she shouldn't.

The rest of the afternoon passed uneventfully. Brian appeared to be in a more congenial mood, even Miranda seemed quieter than usual, she sat in the corner chatting to Maureen, who nodded rather a lot while Miranda looked serious .
Eventually rehearsal was over and Brian stood in the centre of the room and clapped his hands for attention.
"See you all for get- in Tuesday night, full dress on Wednesday and our grand opening on Thursday. "
The members cheered.

"Your father reckons its an awful lot of fuss for three shows, I said there is a matinee don't forget."
They were having tea in Woollies Cafeteria overlooking the Town Hall. Melanie tucked into chops and salad while her mother nibbled her usual cheese sandwich without butter.

"What about dad's tea?" asked Melanie, concerned they might not have time to buy his barbecued chicken.
"Don't worry about him, when I rang he said he got hungry about
5 '0clock and had some sardines on toast."

It was 7.00 when they finally arrived at the station to go back home, only to find an imposing blackboard sign barricading the entrance to their platform.

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Comments by other Members

Account Closed at 09:49 on 18 December 2003  Report this post
Let’s go!
Typo: no won really notices him.

And I’m still worried about your possessives punctuation(!!)

His hair curled at the nape of his neck and he was invariably found flexing his muscular biceps.

This sentence seems a bit weird ie what’s the link?

Not sure about this para here:
So Melanie had officially entered the murky mystery world of adults.
I think you need to come back to the present to make this statement in retrospect. She realised that it was at that moment that she’d officially…

This chapter has a nice wholeness to it beginning, build up, middle, end.
What worked well for me: dad’s comments about am dram –LOL The period exchange between the two girls – very realistic and the gay relationship –nicely built up and outed. You are good at creating strong characters with their own particular quirks.
Just a thought – would oh-so-theatrical Brian use a word like kids?
I’m off soon for les holidays but will catch up with Rose Lane in the New year.
Have a good one

Jubbly at 10:56 on 18 December 2003  Report this post
Thanks Elspeth, all your comments are really helpful. It might interest you to know, the real Aunty Jean is lurking on this site and reading each chapter with you. Have a lovely festive period and see you, (Metaphorically speaking) in the new year.



Account Closed at 12:29 on 18 December 2003  Report this post
"Ah, who knows?" she replied mysteriously...

Tim Darwin at 17:03 on 19 December 2003  Report this post
Julie, this is splendid! Clear and compelling narrative, expertly told--a real delight. My comments on the previous chapters (which maybe are lousy comments anyway) don't at all apply here. Really well done! I look forward to the next installment.



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