The Call Of The City – Episode 43

Allison Hay © Kerry makes tea for Meg Illustration by Sailesh Thakrar

“The list is up!”

Grace quickened her step as she walked towards the glassed-in noticeboard outside the lecture hall.

After weeks of waiting, the list of chosen performers for the concert was finally up, and her heart quickened along with her step.

She hadn’t dared hope she might have been chosen, yet…

“Lewis!” She saw him standing a little bit apart, a funny look on his face. “Did you see the list?”

“Ye-es.” He sounded hesitant, even wary, and Grace frowned.

“What’s wrong? Did Chloe get picked?”


“Then…” Grace stared at him in confusion. “Either you or I did. Why do you look so down?”

“I’m not down. I’m just surprised, I suppose.” He took a quick breath. “It’s me, Grace. I was picked.”

“Oh.” Grace stared at him for a moment, trying to untangle her feelings.

She was disappointed for herself, of course, but she was thrilled for Lewis. Of course she was.

“That’s wonderful, Lewis! Well done. I’m so proud of you.”

She reached forward to give him a hug that Lewis returned awkwardly.

“Thanks. I’m sorry you didn’t get it. I was so sure you would.”

“Oh, don’t worry about me,” Grace said quickly. “I never thought I had a chance in the first place.”

Yet she had started to believe Lewis when he said that she was the obvious choice. Clearly she hadn’t been.

“It’s really great news,” she said firmly. “Why don’t we celebrate? Lattes on me.”

Lewis glanced at his watch.

“Maybe a quick one. I have a rehearsal in twenty minutes.”

“Already? The list has just gone up!”

He shrugged.

“Practice is important.”

“Of course.”

As they walked to their usual café, Grace listened to Lewis detail all the rehearsals he’d be having, as well as the Facebook chat group all the performers had joined.

“We’re all going out for drinks on Friday,” he said as he swiped through the messages on his phone while Grace ordered their coffees.

He looked up at her.


“You don’t need to be sorry.” Grace felt a little stung that he felt he had to apologise. “Honestly, it’s fine. I’m really pleased for you.”

“Thanks. I can’t believe they picked me.” He shook his head. “I really thought it would be you!”

“You were keener than I was, I think,” Grace said, and then hoped that didn’t sound ungracious.

“I just mean I’m not surprised they chose you,” she clarified quickly. “The best person won, as far as I’m concerned. I’m really pleased for you, Lewis. Honestly.”

“Thanks.” He toyed with the handle of his coffee cup, not looking at her. “I wouldn’t want it to come between us.”

“Of course it won’t.”

Grace was a bit hurt that he thought it would. She wasn’t envious of Lewis being picked; it had been a surprise, perhaps, but she’d got over it quickly.

Yet, as she gazed at him and noticed how he wasn’t meeting her eyes, she realised it might come between them anyway.

“Hey, Lewis.”

A young woman with long blonde hair stopped by their table, ignoring Grace as she aimed a bright smile at Lewis.

“You’re the first-year violin soloist, aren’t you?”

“Er, yes.”

“I’m Helena, second-year cello. Great to have you in the concert. Well done on getting selected.”

She widened her smile, angling her body so Grace was completely excluded from the conversation, although she’d already felt cut out of it.

“Are you coming to the rehearsal in a few minutes? I’ll walk with you, if you want.”

“Oh, uh, sure, yeah.” Lewis stood up, giving Grace an uncertain, apologetic look. “Sorry, Grace, but I’d better go. I don’t want to be late for my first rehearsal.”

“No problem.” Grace waved him away, trying to smile and hide her hurt. Of course he needed to go. “I’ll catch up with you later. I can’t wait to hear all about it.”

“I’ll text you,” Lewis said, but it sounded half-hearted, his back already to her as he started walking in step with Helena.

To be continued…

Allison Hay

I joined the "My Weekly" team thirteen years ago and, more recently, "The People's Friend". I love the variety of topics we cover both online and in the magazines. I manage the digital content for the brands, sharing features and information on the website, social media and in our digital newsletters.