Chapter 3

"Here we go." Kelly whispered. She looked stunning, dressed in complete black; black leotard, black tights, black gloves, gold high heels and gold tinsel over one shoulder.

She tiptoed on stage, with the girls of the choir.

Five minutes later, the show began.

As the curtains opened, the choir, dressed in snow outfits (though it was doubtful the skimpy clothes would have kept the wearer warm!), began to sing: "A long time ago, in Bethlehem, so the Holy Bible says, Mary's boy child, Jesus Christ, was born on Christmas day…"

In the darkness, a small man sneaked in at the back. Nobody noticed him, nobody at all…

As they finished singing, Kelly was hoisted above them on a wire, landing gracefully in front. The stage plunged into darkness, a single spotlight highlighting the head girl.

"The story of Jesus started a long time ago, thousands of years back, in –"

Here she was interrupted by a shout of "Fairyland" from backstage, accompanied by a howl of laughter. Kelly frowned.

"No, Taylor, not Fairyland. And if you interrupt me again, I'll sellotape your mouth shut, Joseph or not. Anyway," she turned back to the audience. "The story began in Bethlehem with a young girl called Mary, and her husband, Joseph." As she spoke, Andrea and Taylor appeared onstage. Miss Dickinson immediately groaned.

Andrea, true to form, had refused to ditch her gothic makeup for her role. She was wearing a knee length black dress, laced up black boots, black and red striped tights, her black funeral netting on her head, though not over her face, and a blue blanket round her shoulders. Her pink streaks were quite plainly visible beneath the veil. Taylor had not done much better costume wise. She was wearing skinny jeans, chestnut (fake) Ugg boots, a red lumberjack shirt, and her curly hair fell down her back. As she came on stage, she was applying lipgloss. Kelly looked at the pair and sighed, turning back to the audience with a straight face.

"Both were ahead of their time, fashionably speaking, and I can assure you that this story is that of a heterosexual couple, even if Joseph does seem slightly feminine." Taylor giggled. Andrea nudged her.

"Shhh, we're acting. Stay in character." She hissed. Taylor giggled all the more, and disappeared into the wings. Kelly sighed, and took her seat on the edge of the stage as Andrea took to the centre.

"That husband of mine." She complained. "Makes ever such a mess, and I caught him playing with my makeup the other day."

"Oy, I wouldn't be caught dead in Urban Decay!" Taylor yelled from the wings.

"I have so much to do today, cooking, cleaning…" Andrea's voice trailed off as she looked towards the rafters, and then anxiously back at Kelly, who pretended not to notice. Somebody had obviously missed their cue.

"Oh yeah, so much work." Andrea continued, ad-libbing desperately. "And Joseph is such a hard task master. He's such a lazy slob, just chucking his empty vodka bottles everywhere, and sticking chewing gum under chairs and he never cleans up his vomit. I have to do it all, dumb chav."

"Oy!" Taylor shouted again. "You're not that great yourself, Mary, casting spells and leaving your eye of newt all over the show. Is it any wonder I get sick sometimes? You've probably put a curse on me." She strode out onto the stage, pulling Andrea's veil down.

"See. Pink hair. That ain't natural. Burn the witch!" At this, Miss Dickinson groaned, burying her head in her hands.

"Why? Oh, just, why?" she muttered. Camilla patted her on the back, looking amusedly at the English teacher.

Andrea, meanwhile, was pulling the netting back on her head. "Joseph! Don't pull at my clothes. You'll ruin them."

"What-ever, Mary" Taylor retorted, pulling at the netting again. Andrea pulled back, and the material ripped.

"Now look what you've done." Andrea exclaimed. "You stupid chav!"

"Dumb Goth. I am so out of here!" Taylor flounced off, turning only to call back, "I expect that to be mended by act 2, girl, or no more make-up for you." Andrea gasped in mock horror, and resolutely sat down on the stage, attempting to catch the string and needles which were thrown from the wings. As she threaded the needle, Chelsea floated down from the eves, landing in front of Andrea.

Like Taylor and Andrea, Chelsea was dressed in her typical style. Her makeup was flawless, her hair hung down her back in perfect golden curls, and a golden halo was perched neatly on her head. Indeed, if it had just been her head on stage, she would have made the perfect angel. It was her outfit which made Miss Dickinson gasp and Elizabeth 'Brocklehurst' Norton to cross herself and start muttering the rosary.

Chelsea was dressed in what only can be described as some very fancy lingerie. She wore a white bra-top, decorated with gold tinsel. She wore a very short white puffed skirt over white net, again decorated with gold. On her feet, she wore gold stilettos, even higher then Kelly's, and her stomach was bare. A pair of white feathery wings adorned her shoulders.

"Oh my Lord!" Andrea exclaimed.

"Actually, I'm Gabriel." Chelsea answered, her back to the audience as she addressed Andrea. "I just work for the big guy."

"Turn around." Andrea hissed. Chelsea immediately turned round, blocking Andrea from view, so 'Mary' scooted to the side.

"Who's the big guy?" she asked, curiously.

"Oh, my God, girl. Your Lord! And he told me you were clever."

"And you are?" Andrea carried on sewing.

"I'm Gabriel. Angel Gabriel, license to deliver good news." Chelsea answered.

"And boy, does she have a shocker for you!" Peaches, in a very short white dress and silver tinsel appeared onstage.

"Boy? Where?" Chloe, dressed identically to Peaches ran on.

"I'm a lady!" Andrea exclaimed.

"I'm open to experiments." Chelsea grinned, apparently forgetting the play whilst she contemplated Andrea. "Oh yeah, Rea, I'm open to experiments." She licked her lips. Andrea looked at her, stunned into silence. Kelly's mouth was open, and Miss Dickinson was gob smacked. From the wings, there was a fit of giggles. The audience seemed as astonished as the actors. Geoffrey Thwaites smiled in triumph. Who would have thought, the Angel Gabriel, inclined to eyeing up Mary? Think of the headlines…

"That wasn't in the script, Chelsea," she muttered, unable to look at her.

Kell eyed Andrea curiously. Something Chelsea had said? She grinned amused, before prompting Chelsea. "The Angel Gabriel did have some rather shocking news for Andrea. I mean, Mary."

Immediately, music swelled from the orchestra pit, and the choir emerged, ready to sing.

As the last strains of the hymn came to a close and the choir disappeared from the stage, Andrea looked up from her sewing. Her embarrassment seemed to have abated as she looked at Chelsea.

"So I'm pregnant? But I'm a virgin!" She said.

"You better be!" her father shouted from the audience.

Slag!" Taylor shouted from the wings.

"-and I better not get fat!" Andrea valiantly ignored the heckles.

"Well…. I'm not really in charge of the finer details," Chelsea said.

"But well totally help you find clothes to help you look and feel great." Peaches interjected.

"Yeah, black looks great and –" Chloe looked at the other two angels, and without missing a beat, the trio performed their signature "Oh my God" move.

"It's like, totally your favourite colour." Chloe finished.

"That's true," Andrea said thoughtfully. "Well, I'm at least picking the name. I'm thinking Morganna Nyx."

"What?" the angels replied.

"Oy! No kid of mine is being called no witch name." Taylor once more yelled from the wings.

"I'm impressed you even recognised it." Andrea said.

" Anyway, you're having a boy, called Jesus." said Chelsea.

"Really? Damn. I wanted a girl. And Jesus? What kind of a name is that? I should get to pick the name, at least." Andrea spoke up.

"You know, for Mary, you're not very meek and mild." Chelsea accused.

"Tough cookies." Andrea replied.

"And God is the father…so I'm guessing he has pretty big say in the name business." Chelsea continued.

"Yeah, he's like…the ultimate Godfather…" Peaches wondered. "He could shoot you if you don't do what he wants."

"Shoot me?" Andrea was completely bewildered. This wasn't in the script. Actually, now I come to think of it, not much of this play so far has been scripted…

"With a thunderbolt, obviously." Chloe interjected.

"Obviously…" Andrea paused, desperate to get the play back on track. "Oh, but what am I gonna tell Joseph? He's gonna think I was unfaithful. And he gets so violent when he's angry."

"Oy!" Taylor shouted.

"He won't get mad." Chelsea replied, with certainty. At that moment, 'Lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off' blared through the sound system. One of the first years, dressed as an angel appeared holding a mobile. Chelsea snatched it. "Angel Gabriel. How can I help?" She listened, and then spoke again. "Yes, God, I told her. No, she wasn't too chuffed. I dunno why. I told you I should've done it…she says she better not get fat. (to Andrea) He says he'll see what I can do. (Back into the phone) Okay, okay, Okay, God, chill. We'll be right there. Okay, bye."

She snapped the phone shut. "God wants to see us ASAP. You girls ready?" The angels nodded. Together they chorused "Full throttle" as the geeks in the eves yanked them up and out of sight. The jerky movement of their wires caused Chloe's stiletto to slip off, hitting Andrea on the head,

"Ow!" she exclaimed, rubbing her head and staring angrily into the eves. Two minutes later, Chloe limped back onto the stage.

"Forgot my shoe." She said, snatching it up. Then, raising her arms once more, she shouted "Full throttle!" And the geeks pulled her once more towards the ceiling.

The stage dimmed, and both Andrea and Kelly breathed a sigh of relief. The Posh Totty weren't due back onstage for a couple of scenes. Kelly stood up, and Polly focused the spotlight o the head girl.

"As Mary had predicted, Taylor…Joseph wasn't too happy about the fact that Mary was pregnant."

The stage was lit once more, and Taylor appeared. She walked over to Andrea and pushed her so the Goth fell over.

"What do you mean, pregnant? How the hell can you have a bun in the oven?" She raged.

"More like 'how the heaven…'" Andrea muttered in response.

"There is no way you can be pregnant…we haven't even slept together yet!" Taylor pretended to punch Andrea, who immediately crumpled to the stage floor, sobbing.

"Yeah, go on Taylor. Beat the freak. Beat the freak!" Some of Taylor's friends sat in the front rows of the audience began to cheer. Taylor ignored them, but strengthened her antagonism of Andrea

"And I'm pretty certain I couldn't get you pregnant anyway…" She pretended to kick out at Andrea, who increased the volume of her cries. Taylor immensely enjoyed this part of the play – it was the only reason she had accepted the part. Though most of the time, her punches missed Andrea, she did enjoy getting the odd kick in here and there – mistakes, of course.

"So, you whore, you tramp, who did you sleep with? Did he pay you?"

"Taylor Scopes!" Henry Norton stood up once more. "Don't you dare call a member of the British aristocracy a whore, you no-good, jumped-up little huss-"

Both Taylor and Andrea stopped, dumbstruck. Andrea's cheeks blazed crimson as Taylor's mother hauled her father out of the hall, both arguing loudly as they went.

'Lady' Norton covered her face in embarrassment. Why did he always act like this? And that dreadful commoner? This was why she hated going out.

"Get on with the play, girlies." Miss Fritton called out.

Back on stage, Taylor and Andrea fought hard to recover the moment. Andrea began wailing again, and Taylor asked once more, "Who did you sleep with?" The effect was ruined though; Taylor kept glancing anxiously at the audience.

Kelly quickly spoke up. "But Andrea, I mean Mary, had been telling Tay-Joseph the truth. She hadn't slept with anything. But it took the Angel Gabriel to convince Joseph.

The light switched back to the main stage. Andrea was stood on one side, holding a mobile phone. She pretended to dial a number. From off-stage, Peaches picked up.

"Welcome to the Angel helpline. To ask for guidance, press one. To talk to God, press two. To make a complaint, press three." Peaches' voice was on loudspeaker. Andrea pressed a button, and Peaches began to speak. "You have selected three. You wish to make a complaint. If the complaint is being hit by a stiletto, press one. If it is in reference to a particular angel, press two. If you wish to speak to an arch-angel press three." Andrea again pressed a number. "You have selected three. You wish to speak to an arch-angel. Please hold on whilst we connect your call."

"Gosh, this is worse then phoning British Gas!" Andrea exclaimed.

" Angel Gabriel here. How can I help?" Chelsea asked eventually.

"About time, it took me ages to get through to you." Andrea retorted.

"Sorry, even angels have to use he bathroom." Chelsea sounded peeved.

"In the middle of the play? Anyway, Gabriel, tell God to do something about Joseph if he wants me to have his baby!"

"What do you mean?"

"Joseph thinks I slept around."

"Who is this? What are you talking about?"

"I'm Mary? The girl in Bethlehem who you told was pregnant…call him Jesus, ring any bells?"

"Oh yeahhhh…so how's that going?"

"Well, apart from the fact that Joseph thinks I've slept around, and you know, you've completely dinted my chances of going to uni, ooh, and I'm living in the middle ages where women are treated like dirt, yeah, its all good." Andrea replied sarcastically.

"Good. Anyway, what was your complaint? I am busy, you know, doing…angel stuff."

"Would you please explain to Joseph that God got me pregnant, and I am not a hussy?" Andrea demanded.

"Fine. I'll be down after I've done my work out." Chelsea replied chirpily. "See you in a while."

Kelly rolled her eyes. "And so the Angel Gabriel explained to Joseph how Mary got with child. Ad the couple made up." Taylor marched back onstage, and over to Andrea.

"Ha, I knew no one would want to do you one. Weirdo." Andrea rolled her eyes.

"And that's obviously why you made all that fuss." Taylor looked as if she was about to retort, so Kelly stepped in hastily.

"But there was another problem for the couple. King Herod was ordering everybody to travel to their hometowns so he could take a census."

"Yeah, and I would have to be lumbered with the man who came from Bethlehem." Andrea interjected.

"Shut up, Goth girl. At least you didn't have to walk." Taylor grumbled.

"True."

"Anyway," Kelly glared meaningfully at her friends. "The couple had to go to Bethlehem, and Mary was due to give birth at any minute. And so, Joseph bought Mary a present."

Taylor had disappeared backstage, whilst Andrea sat on a chair in the centre of the stage. They heard a bray from the wings, and after a lot of giggling, Taylor reappeared leading a donkey.

"What?" Both Andrea's and Kelly's mouths fell open. This wasn't planned. The donkey was supposed to be Tania and Tara in a skin. The audience gasped collectively.

"Awww". Some of the girls, not in the play squealed.

"Look. I even got you a real donkey." Taylor led the donkey to Andrea, and helped her onto it's back. Andrea sat intensely still, petrified of the donkey. She did not have a fondness for animals of any description. Kelly, sensing Andrea's discomfort, spoke up quickly.

"And so, Mary and Joseph set out on their long journey to Bethlehem." She slipped quietly off stage as Taylor led the donkey to the ramp at the side of the stage. Andrea slid off as the donkey was led down, landing on the floor of the hall with a bump. Taylor led the donkey over, and helped her back on. Whilst this was happening, the choir crept onstage again. Now, they were dressed as angels, in swirling white chiffon. Each girl carried a candle, and stood delicately in the middle of the stage. Around them, the first years knelt, almost lost in the sudden fog one of the geeks made appear. With just a piano as accompaniment, they began to sing 'Little Donkey'.

As they sang, another geek caused 'snow' to fall from the rafters. Polly slowly dimmed the lights, whilst keeping a spotlight on Taylor leading the donkey and Andrea slowly down the aisle. Finally, Taylor reached the main door of the hall as the carol ended. Andrea slid thankfully from the donkey's back, and slipped out. Taylor followed, still leading the donkey. As she closed the door, Polly turned off the spotlight, and the curtain fell across the stage. Act one was over. Just one left…Thank God. Polly mopped her brow. It was hard work keeping up with the script changes and adlibbing from the three main characters.