Extract - Archie early moment, Casting Queen

Extract from Casting Queen: Elektra is waiting to go on set for her first proper role (OK, no words but still a big deal for her). Archie is playing one of the extras. Elektra is very nervous (she should be ,just after this,  things go horribly wrong due to an improbable case of mistaken identity).  She’s had a massive crush on Archie for ages (they’re in the same acting class) but this is the first time they’ve actually spoken.


‘Hey, Elektra.’ I turned round to find Archie in the queue behind me. ‘So, are you nervous about your starring role?’

No point pretending so I nodded. He looked good. Obviously, no sleepless night for him. He was just wearing jeans and some random T-shirt and a big parka, but the jeans were really nice jeans ... Yep, Elektra, maybe concentrate on his face. He’s too fit to look at for long: concentrate on the floor. Trip over your own feet. Pretend to be doing a small and interpretive dance move to show your inner confidence for the shoot. Smooth.

‘Don’t worry, you’ll be great. Anyway, it’ll be over before you know it.’

He didn’t know how prophetic that was.

Was there a chance that Archie was that rarest of combinations, hot and nice? Probably not, but he was definitely hot which was enough to be going on with. We got to the front of the queue and he collected three bacon sandwiches and gave me one. Boys were hollow.

‘Do you want a drink?’ he offered.

‘I’ll get them – you haven’t got any hands left. What do you want?’

He nodded at an apple juice and I picked up two cartons and we went and slid down against a wall to make our own little picnic area. I handed him the juice.

‘Bloody hell, Elektra, your hands are freezing.’ He caught them up in his. ‘Let me warm them up for you,’ and he folded them into his parka, warm from the fleecy lining and from his body.

At this point, my hands might have been cold, but you could have fried an egg on my face. I mumbled, ‘Thanks,’ and sat there stiffly, utterly unable to enjoy the moment.

And it was a moment.

It took me a good five minutes to calm down enough from the whole hand thing to string together a sentence. But after we’d sat there for a bit I did start to get used to Archie, like some weird sort of reverse aversion therapy (attraction therapy?). And no question he was speaking to me. A proper conversation. There were other girls there and most of them were trying to get his attention (which was fair), but he was talking to me. It was all just chat about ACT and school and stuff and I was trying hard to reply like a rational person while also working out whether he was sending me any deep meanings at the same time. It was good.

Stressful but good.