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Look At Us Now

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The house looked nice – mid terrace, a small front yard keeping it just off the street; well cared for paintwork and the look of a home. Rachel had liked it from the first, when the estate agent showed her around without gawping too much, which was a relief – too many people recognised her now. It had four bedrooms and two living rooms, over three floors, with a proper kitchen and bathroom – pretty much perfect for what she wanted. Uncle Tom had helped her get it all sorted, and now it was to be her home. She had already invited two of her friends to share at a decent rent and had a place for Hilary, if she decided to join them.

Well, she was due here in a few minutes, to see around if nothing else. Rachel sat down on the stairs to wait, pulling out a notepad to make a list of what she's need before moving in – she hadn't let herself plan properly until it was all settled, and now it was! She heard the doorbell ring, and opened the door to let Hilary in.

“Rachel! Let me see everything! You didn't say much in your letters, and I wanted to see where you are going to live.”

“Hilary – I haven't seen you in so long! You can live here too, if you want.”

Hilary looked away. “I'm not sure it makes sense, I'd hardly be here, as I'm mostly away with chorus work – at Mrs Wintle's I've got people to look after me and make sure I eat and everything. It wouldn't be fair to expect you to do that, when you have work as well.”

“I wouldn't mind! You're my sister.”

“I know, but getting away from family is part of growing up, I suppose.”

“Well, at least say you'll visit? Come to tea every week if you are in town!”

“Always! Although I still think you are making a mistake by not going off to Hollywood – I mean I understood you staying while we were young and together most of the time, but now...”

“Well, I'd prefer to be here. I know so many people, I get good roles, enough to pick from and even here I'm just across town from Uncle Tom, Pursey and Mrs Storm if I need help. In Hollywood I'd be on my own, and look at the films they keep offering me! How many of those roles would actually suit me?” Rachel paused.

“You'd still be able to pick roles.”

“Well to a degree. I've been talking to people about the choice and they've been explaining a bit more about how contracts work there – there'd be pressure to take roles, especially ones they thought were going to 'hit it big' and I'd rather stay here and act to the stage with an occasional film to ensure a good living.”

“But are you happy?” Hilary sounded very tentative.

“I am. Are you?”

“Yes! chorus work is great fun, and now that I'm not being chaperoned I get to meet all the nice young men...”

“Any that you are serious about?”

“Not yet – haven't found any that are interested, interesting and available.”

Rachel laughed and hugged Hilary. “Well, when you do, do bring them here. I'll want to meet them.”

“Certainly; and before I get engaged, to see what you think!”

“Oh, did you see the notice about Dulcie's engagement?”

“I certainly didn't have a chance to miss it! All the Wonders wanted to share it, and find out what I knew. Who would have thought! I had never even met him.”

“Well, he was the leading actor in that last play of hers and they started walking out together afterwards. Mrs Wintle was torn between approval and the fact Dulcie was throwing away a shining career.”

“I'd bet! And is he nice?”

“Not sure about nice – almost as conceited as her, but very funny.”

“She's been a bit better lately, from what I've heard.”

“Yes, she seems very happy and too busy to get involved in showing off for the rest of us.”

“Anyway, you were going to show me this house.”

“Come on, then! Living room, looking out over the street. If you are free this week, you can help me find furniture – I've got offers of a few pieces, but we'll need to get more, there are loads of junkshops and we can see what we'll get to fit for now.”

“Not going all matching like Mrs Wintle's?” Hilary said laughing. “Remember the first day there – looking at that bedroom, and the schoolroom.”

“Yes, it never really felt like a home. Remember how stuff never used to match in Folkestone.”

“Yes, although I think it did in Hollywood.”

“I'm not sure, not in the same way.”

“More of a bought at the same time and place look than a combined paint and covers and furniture and everything.”

“Look a proper kitchen – do you know how to cook?”

“Some – Mrs Storm and Pursey have been teaching me, because I wanted to know.”

“Lessons! Still?”

“Well why not? Lots of people older than us have lessons, and even if I'm going to be on the stage there is no reason not to learn.” Rachel did not add more about her continuing English lessons with Mrs Storm as she knew Hilary would not understand.

“I suppose not, although I would have thought you'd be too busy. I saw your reviews. What's next?”

“Helena in All's Well That Ends Well.”

“Is that the one where she is tricking the man?”

“And being a physician – it is a very interesting role.”

“I'm sure you'll be a success. As always!”

“I've come a long way.”

“We both have – it is so nice to be grown up and know where we are going.”

“Even if we never get there!” Rachel said quietly. “I just wish Mummie was here to see this.”

“She would be so happy for both for us, I think. And so proud of you – a real adult, capable and successful!”

“She'd be proud of you too, I think. Happy and making your plans.”