CHAPTER: 12345, 6789101112131415161718192021222324252627EPILOGUE

The next morning Toby is waiting outside the studios before they’ve even opened up, he’s so eager to get started on his work. He’d rung the coach the night before and checked that David had indeed been in touch with him as promised, and although the coach had been a little reluctant to let him miss training for the whole day he had eventually told Toby that he could go to the film studio. Toby has been given a warning though, that if he misses more than three training sessions he will be out of the Academy. The news hadn’t worried Toby as much as he knew it should have but he’s too excited about today to really care.

The doors are finally unlocked and as soon as Toby sets foot in the building he is met by Zoe. She leads him back to the hall that they were in the day before and asks him to wait on some of the chairs. Toby settles himself down to play a game on his mobile but as people start to come in and begin to get the equipment all set up, he soon finds himself entranced by all the activity. There’s so much more to filming something than he ever thought and he eagerly soaks it up, wanting to learn as much as he can. Zoe appears a little while later and encourages him to go through his lines again. He starts flipping through the script and works out exactly how he’s going to play each line.

“Fiona!” he hears David cry, “So glad you could make it love,”

Toby looks over and sees David giving air kisses to each cheek of a brunette. She steps back and he can finally see her face. She’s stunning and for a moment, just a second, Toby can’t breathe. She’s classically beautiful with defined cheekbones and a perfectly straight nose. She’s got big brown eyes and her brown hair is professionally highlighted and styled. Her curves are amazing as well and he finds his eyes tracing them up and down.

“I’m sorry darling,” he hears Fiona say, “The traffic was just absolutely dreadful this morning,”

Toby’s heart plummets. She’s exactly the type of girl that would ignore him. The way she rolls her r’s and elongates her vowels tells him all that he needs to know. She’s posh totty, probably went to private school and likely hasn’t done a real day’s work in her life. The way she’s looking at some of the men around, her nose wrinkling in disgust every time one of them comes a little too close, the way she jumps out of the way as they pass by, it all tells Toby that she’s probably stuck up and full of herself. Then again, he reminds himself, the performing arts tends to be full of rich kids from middle class backgrounds, they’re the only ones who can actually afford to go to drama schools and who’s parents will actually let them attend.

He looks her up and down again. It’s a pity really, that she’s so fancy and stuck up. She might be completely different to him culturally and socially but in Toby’s book she’s exactly his type. He shrugs to himself and focuses on his lines again, reading through the script and getting in to the character of a young Wayne Rooney, before he got world famous and before he cocked his whole life up.

“Toby,” David calls, walking over with an arm around Fiona’s shoulders, “This is Fiona, the woman auditioning for the role of Coleen. Fiona,” he says, turning to look at her, “This is Toby, our stunt double. We’ve asked him to stand in today so it’s a bit easier for you. He’s a semi professional footballer soon to be professional.”

“Charmed,” Fiona says, smiling politely and holding out a hand, “It’s nice to meet you.”

“And you,” Toby says.

He shakes her hand and then turns back to his script. He doesn’t miss the fact that Fiona wipes her hand on her coat or that she’s looking down her nose at him like she looked at the crew.

“Well,” David says, clapping his hands together, “Now that you two know each other, why don’t you take a seat Fiona and go through the lines again while we just finish setting up.”

“Of course,” Fiona drawls, a bright smile on her face.

David smiles back, too wide and with too many teeth, before he turns and walks away. The smile instantly drops from Fiona’s face and she looks down at Toby with disdain. Her eyes flick to the seat beside him but she doesn’t take it. Instead she wanders off to a sofa that’s placed against a nearby wall and settles on to that.

“Mummy?” Fiona says in to her phone suddenly. Toby turns and looks at her but she glares at him and he turns away, “Hello Mummy. Yes I got to the audition ok. No we haven’t started yet. Apparently these idiots haven’t even finished setting up. I know, I know, I’ll make sure that I know before I leave. Oh Mummy, you won’t believe who they’ve got me acting against for this thing. It’s some footballer, some child. I know! I bet he hasn’t done a day’s acting in his life. Yes, I’m sure he’s just some leery, brash boy with too much flash and no go. I doubt he even really understands what’s going on, or what half the words I have to say in the audition even mean. Yes,” she sighs, “I’ll do my best to act like he’s someone I actually like. No Mother! I’m getting the part, I’m going to make sure I do. Ok. Ok. Bye, bye bye bye.”

She hangs up the phone and when Toby looks over his shoulder to glance at her she gives him a tight smile and then looks away. He sees her rolling her eyes though. He turns his attention back to his script and shakes his head. He just needs to ignore her words, focus on what he’s there to do and become Wayne Rooney. It should be simple.

“Ok, ok,” David shouts out eventually, “Let’s get started shall we. Fiona, Toby, if you could take your places please.”

Toby stands and stretches. Fiona just strides past him but they almost collide. He forgot that she was behind him. He stops and steps aside, waving his arm to let her go first. She nods at him but that’s it. They walk in front of the green screen and settle on the old sofa that one of the crew must have put there earlier. They look at each other and then at David.

“Ok,” David says, “This is one of the most important scenes in the movie. Fiona I want you to give it your all. Really feel where the character is coming from, understand how she must be feeling and try to get that across. Toby, just do what you can and make sure you keep that Liverpudlian accent going.”

He turns to the camera man for a moment and nods before he looks back towards Fiona and Toby.

“So, here’s the set up,” he says, waving his hands around. “You, Toby, as Wayne, are discussing with Fiona, as Coleen, about whether you should leave Everton and go to play for Manchester United. It’s the chance at the goal of your life, the one thing that you’ve been working towards since you first started playing. But at the same time you’re unsure. It means leaving everything behind, your friends and your family, everyone you ever knew and starting over fresh. It’s terrifying, it’s exciting and you just don’t know what to do. So you turn to Coleen, your girlfriend for many years and the woman you one day plan to make your wife. She’s smart, she understands you and she knows that a move for you means a move for her. Ok?”

Fiona and Toby both nod. David smiles and steps back.

“Ok then,” he says, “And go…”

Toby looks at Fiona, trying to fight back the memory of her harsh words. He puts Coleen’s face over hers, imagines Fiona as Coleen and then himself as Rooney. He imagines the uncertainty Wayne was probably feeling, how terrified he must have been, how much he didn’t want to make a mistake. He begins to feel like Rooney, like a large headed balding man with the love of a good woman who will stand by him throughout anything, he feels that burning desire to become a footballing legend spark up within him. He reaches out and takes Fiona’s hand. She jumps, flinches a little but it’s barely noticeable. He can only tell because he can feel her pulse racing in her wrist.

“I don’t know what to do babes,” Toby says, as Wayne. He doesn’t know what to do, he can feel the uncertainty, the worry, the desire not to let the love of his life down by making the wrong decision, “I feel like I’m going to make the wrong choice whichever one I choose.”

“Babes,” Fiona says, shifting forward, closer to him. Toby’s surprised by how good her accent is and how well she’s hiding the way that she normally speaks. “Babes, what feels like the right decision? For you I mean, not for anyone else.”

“Everton have been so good to me,” Wayne says, looking away. He’s shaking, troubled and avoiding the question “They’ve made me who I am. I wouldn’t even have this chance if it weren’t for them.”

“So why don’t you stay at Everton?” Coleen asks, brushing her hand across his head, “If they’ve done so much to help you why don’t you just stay there?”

“Because I think I can go all the way,” Wayne admits reluctantly. He looks down but Coleen is having none of it. She reaches forward and lifts up his head. He looks her in the eye and continues talking “I know I can go all the way. Everton can’t do that for me though. I’ve always known I can go to the very top, get world famous and really good. I’ve known it since I was 6 years old and so has everyone else. And I want to go to the top. But Everton can’t get me there.”

“Can Manchester United?” Coleen asks, leaning in and cupping Wayne’s cheek in her hand, “Will they be able to get you to the top?”

“Yes,” Wayne says with a sigh, “Yes they can take me there. Or at least I think they can.”

They sit there for a moment, in silence as they just look in to each others eyes. Coleen sighs.

“I think that this is something you need to do for you,” she gently says, “Whatever choice you make it needs to be because you’ve made it for yourself, not for anyone else. Sometimes you just have to break away from that team mentality that you all seem to have and then really think about what’s the best thing to do for you.”

“But how am I going to tell the manager?” Wayne cries out, begging. “He’s believed in me since I was a kid. He’s stood by there and driven me on since I first started to play football and we all realised that I could go all the way. I can’t just turn my back on him like that, can I?”

Wayne looks away, his entire body shaking. The idea of letting the manager down, after how supportive he’s been for so long fills Wayne with a massive feeling of guilt. The thought of the man’s reaction makes him feel sick, heavy like he’s being squashed under a rock.

“He’ll understand babes,” Coleen says, turning him to look at her again. “I bet he’s seen this loads of times before in his time. He’s a manager and players come and go. Everton is a good club but it’s not one of the greats, Man U is. Anyway, for all we know he could be sat around wondering why you haven’t gone there sooner if you both want the same thing for you.”

“Yeah,” Wayne says slowly, “Yeah that’s true. He’s the manager of the club, he knows what’s going to help everyone out. Maybe he won’t be so surprised or hurt.”

Coleen nods at him encouragingly, a small smile on her face. He smiles back but it feels a little forced, like when he tries to smile for the camera.

“So…” Coleen says slowly.

“So…” Wayne repeats, “Are we heading to Manchester then?”

“Yeah,” Coleen squeaks out, nodding and wiggling in her seat with excitement, “I think we are babes, I think we are.”

Wayne smiles. He gets a little closer to Coleen, his girlfriend deserves a kiss after all.

“BRILLIANT!” David shouts out. “Absolutely brilliant.”

Toby and Fiona jump in surprise and Fiona scuttles away from Toby, putting a large amount of space between them. Toby feels a little confused, discombobulated. He’s filled with this rush of emotions that aren’t really his and he’s trying to get them in order. For a moment he forgets who he really is, where he is and looks around in a bit of a daze. David walks forwards, clapping his hands slowly and looking between both of them. He’s smiling widely.

“Fiona, you are a gem,” he says, grinning at her. Then he turns to Toby and holds out his arms, “And Toby…Toby! Well I think you surprised us all there.”

“Thanks,” Toby says.

He looks down and blushes, trying to hide the wide smile that feels like it’s going to split his face in two. He stands up and hands the script over to David.

“Well thank you again Toby,” David says, shaking his hand vigorously, “Thanks for stepping in and reading those lines. You’ve really helped us out and we really appreciate it. We’ll be in touch soon about the stunt double role. For now though you can go and do whatever you want with the rest of your day.”

“Not a problem David,” Toby says, finally letting his grin out, “That was brilliant. Thanks for asking me to help out.”

Toby practically bounces out of the studio. His entire body feels electrified, like he does after they win a big match but even stronger. He feels like he could run and jump and turn somersaults without running out of breath. He doesn’t want to go back to training, or to sit around at home. He wants to move, to see the outdoors and watch people, figure out why they might act or move the way that they do. So he decides to head in to town.

As he walks the streets of Skelmerage town he thinks back on the morning, reminiscing on everything that had happened. Even the memory of Fiona’s rude supposition of his character isn’t enough to bring him down. He knows that he nailed the role, that he got it exactly right. It had all gone exactly as Toby had spent the night before planning. He’s got every emotion down just how he wanted, every word had been spot on with just the right amount of emphasis. He looks around as he walks, takes a deep breath in and smiles widely at anyone who walks past him. All of the colours seem brighter, the lights shiny, the lines and shapes of everything are clearer. For the first time in a very long time Toby feels properly alive and he loves it.

Of course he’s felt the same feeling before, after matches and games where he did particularly well. But never before has it been so strong, has everything felt so vivid. He feels unstoppable. The entire day has been a dream come true, he loved everything about it, the cameras, the acting, the bright lights, all of the eyes on him. He adored the limelight, being the focus of everyone’s attention.

Toby slows down as he walks and he begins to think things out. He begins to wonder whether football is really what he wants to be doing. Sure, on the pitch he gets plenty of attention and focus, people cheering for him, cheering his name. But there are at least twenty one other players that he’s sharing that attention with. None of the focus, none of the appreciation or the cheering is just for him. But on the stage! On the stage, whether it’s an actual stage or in front of a camera the focus is entirely on him. No one else measures up. When Toby is speaking everyone is looking at him, paying attention to him, feeling what he feels and thinking what he thinks.

In the long run, Toby realises as he comes to a complete stop, the football pitch has just been a surrogate for his entire life. It’s just been a way for him to get the attention that he craves and needs because he never realised that there was something better out there. But now he has and now that he’s tasted it, well he wants more, as much as he can get in fact. Football might put him in the limelight, but it’s a shared limelight and it’s the wrong limelight for Toby. His heart sinks a little when he realises that he’s still got to find a way to tell his dad this fact.

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