Exchange Student V

Previous installments of Exchange Student can be found here. or choose the one you may have missed: I, II, III, IV.

A brief explanation. In the US, there is a tendency to butcher the French language. We have been known to say Mercy Bo Cups instead of merci beaucoups (when I tried to find out the origin, I however found out that there was a porn star named Mercy Bo Cups; isn’t the internet delightful?) and Parlay for parlez…although, at least that one sounds correct. As such, since I couldn’t think of a way to legitimately use “parlay,” I cheated. So glad that “brief” explanation has been gotten off my chest.

ETA: It’s also come to my attention that there are those who believe Americans butcher the English language as well, not realizing we are speaking Amurcan.

Parlay American, old chap?” This is what I hear as soon as I step through the door to the pub. The loud arrogant American voice roused in self-congratulatory humor. My back stiffens as I move farther in.

Immediately I see the voice’s owner. Austin Patricks. Photographs would lie to you. With his close-cropped golden hair, his big blue eyes and easy smile, you would think: such a nice, cute boy. Like me, he’s part of the dramatic academy’s American contingent. Unlike me, his parents have lined his pockets, paid his tuition, and provided all of the amenities.

My stomach drops when I see that it is Eddie he’s addressing. He stands over Eddie by about six inches. Others from my class laugh. Austin is their royalty.

All of my joy from today’s classes–practicing fencing, relaxing with the Alexander technique, voice practice–vanishes. I stand, inert, watchful, waiting, my hands growing clammy in the pockets of my coat.

“Back off, mate,” Eddie says, his voice coiled anger.

Austin pulls a face and then tries to replicate Eddie’s accent and words, doing a piss poor job, which makes me wonder if his parents also paid his way into drama school. I glance around, see that Charley, Arthur, and Eddie’s other friends sit at their table watching. Charley’s face is mottled, her hands fisted. Other patrons also pay discreet attention.

I have two choices: get my stout and hide or move into the fray. My nature dictates the first. But something building dark in me, the same inexplicable, darkness that’s made me stalk the English boy in front of me, pushes me forward to stand next to Eddie.

“Your accent needs work, Austin. You sound like someone’s giving you a wedgie,” I say and then do an imitation of his imitation, which is perfect. “You should sound like this.” I then do a perfect imitation of Eddie as I look Eddie in the eyes to let him know I am not mocking him.

Several observers clap. Michael Nathan, who is perhaps the best actor in this semester’s American contingent, laughs and then fist bumps me. Life proceeds.

I glance at Eddie. I see no appreciation in his eyes. No gratitude. Instead, there’s anger. He slides my curls away from my ear. His touch sends a tingle through me. He presses his mouth close to my ear, my body hums. I feel his lips, his hot breath as he whispers: “I don’t need your fucking help, Posh. Ever.”


end 3/4/2017

S. Darlington


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