She sat up in her chosen auditorium seat as the first notes of her best friend's chosen audition song rang across the stage. It was a song they sang together often, laughing at the fact that "Delilah" was the chosen name. Not in a mocking way, but one that based off of irony and admiration.
But this time, when Iseline sang, the words weren't muffled from elbowing her best friend over and over. They were clear, fitting perfectly with her guitar as she slowly picked at the strings, melodic, and... beautiful.
Delilah felt eyes on her, whispers drifting from the scattered people around. Giggles from people in the back, making her face flush the smallest bit red.
Why had Iseline chosen this song of all songs? Why?
Her own gaze drifted to a figure sitting on the far left, isolated and alone. But they had a smile on their face, tugging at the corners of their lips as they silently nodded along. Delilah's head turned back to the wooden-floored stage, silently urging her best friend to look at her, to offer some clue of why this song was the one she sang. But Iseline kept her eyes down, almost as if she didn't want to look at Delilah. Almost like she couldn't.
Honestly, Delilah had never heard Iseline's voice like how she did sitting in the dark red auditorium seat. She didn't sound like she was conforming to the rules of music, adding vibrato because the teachers told her to. No extra ornamentation colored the song besides what Iseline chose to do on her own, veering off the melody every now and then to add in her own artistic flair.
Her faint blush amplified when Iseline finally looked at her during the last two sentences of her song. "Oh, it's what you do to me... what you do to me." But she turned away right when Delilah could start to see an emotion clear in her eyes.
Iseline dipped her head at the applause, biting her lip and quickly moving off stage. The figure Delilah had seen stood up, slipping out of the auditorium as soon as she vanished behind the side curtain.
How... strange. First that song- their song- and then that person leaving just as Iseline did.
"Shut up." she muttered to the boy offering a knowing glance as he passed by. He glanced back at her even after he sat down, adding a small nod to the exit off stage and a motion of playing guitar. Delilah could hear his faint chuckling as he whispered with his group of friends.
"I think she's in love with you." Delilah whipped around, silent and still as the figure slid into the seat behind her. They tossed a strand of short, dark blue hair out of their eyes, pulling the black beanie down over their ears. "I'm Charlie. They/them. And Iseline is in love with you, period."
"She is not." Delilah muttered. "I've known her since third grade and she's my best friend. I would have known if she was in love with me."
"Or... maybe she hides it." Charlie offered with a shrug. They tapped the back of Delilah's seat with a finger jeweled with many silver rings. "Maybe this was a confession of love."
She rolled her eyes. "It was an audition. Isel's practiced this song on her guitar and practically knows it by heart, and is therefore comfortable singing it. That's it."
"Knows it by heart..." Charlie echoed. They offered a wide smile. "You said it, Delilah, not me."
She moved so her legs faced the left aisle, turning her torso and resting her forearms on the back of her seat. She didn't dare to continue the conversation. "How come I've never seen you anywhere?"
"I'm good at blending in. Very good at it." They paused. "I'm in your Health class, actually. The rightmost seat in the back row, next to the windows."
Delilah nodded, looking to the side door to the stage as Iseline, along with the other people who had sung and danced, walked out to the applause of the scattered audience.
She gestured to her best friend. "I... should go."
Charlie nodded, standing up and offering a wave. They vanished in the time Delilah looked from Iseline back to their seat.
"Hey there Delilah, what's it like in New York City?" She laughed as Iseline jokingly sang out the lyric, smiling at her friend's raised eyebrow and satisfied expression. "It is an actual question. How's New York?"
"It's... fine, I guess." Delilah made a sour face. "It's kinda boring."
"I miss you very, very much." She said earnestly, pressing a hand to her heart. She exhaled a breath. "And my uncle's doing better. He'll be out of the ICU tomorrow, and we're leaving the day after that."
Delilah fiddled with her hands and bracelets. "I'm sorry I'm missing the show." She said with a halfhearted smile.
Iseline waved her tan-skinned hand. "Hey, it's fine. You being with family is way more important. And you can watch it after whoever handles the recording posts it up on the district website."
"But it won't be live..."
"It'll be close enough." Iseline fell silent. Her brown eyes fell away from her phone's camera. "Or... we could wait until you get back and... watch it together."
Delilah waited a second before nodding. The way Iseline spoke brought a slight blush to her cheeks, a new, unknown feeling creeping through her body. It didn't sound like a friend said it- it sounded like someone who was more than just a friend. Or... hoped to be.
Iseline looked behind her, to the rush of people flooding the backstage area. "I'm coming!" She called to someone beckoning her. "Anyway, they want me at makeup."
"Well, you better go, then." Delilah said with a wave. "Waitwaitwait, show me your costume first."
"Cosette in the flesh." Iseline turned in a slow circle, laughing as the skirt billowed around her legs, the puffed sleeves cinching at her wrists. She adjusted the brown belt around her waist, turning again to show Delilah how it tied into a bow at the back. "This pattern is so pretty..." Iseline commented, gesturing to the small flowers, then to the white lace collar. "And the lace, even though it's fake."
"Well, you look really pretty. I don't think I could pull that off in a million years."
Iseline shook her head. "Oh, you could. Definitely. It even says it in your song-" She looked back again. "I'm coming!"
"Sounds like you should go." Delilah said with a laugh, taking her fluffy blue pillow and hugging it tightly to her chest.
"Yeah." Iseline neared until only her shoulders and above were visible. She smiled her beautiful, stage-worthy smile. "Bye, Del."
Iseline's next words were soft, barely audible when Delilah's finger reached to end the call. "You don't control my mind, mon amour, you control my heart."
Iseline stuffed her phone in the inner pocket of her bag, smoothing down the wrinkles of her dress before hurrying to an open chair.
"Charlie!" She waved them over. "Charlie I did it. I think I just ruined my life but I did it."
They rolled their eyes, scanning the table and picking up the makeup kit Iseline had placed down, flipping the lid open and grabbing an assortment of brushes. "I'm... almost a hundred percent sure Delilah's typing "mon amour" into Google Translate and blushing as red as this eyeshadow." Charlie gestured to the palette. "Now close your eyes and don't move."
"And then our friendship's gonna be ruined once she does find out what I actually said."
Iseline's eyes twitched, and Charlie drew back, crossing their arms. "No moving." She closed her eyes again and nodded. "And about your friendship being ruined... maybe not."
"Mon amour" meant "my love" in French.
A quick search brought up Cosette's lines and a quote similar to what Iseline had said. But not the same.
Delilah placed her phone of her bedside table, burying her face in her pillow and collapsing backwards. The sentence whirled around and around her mind over and over again. Iseline's audition song from a few months ago, her final sentence, and her face. Her perfect, brown-eyed, wavy-hair framed face. And Delilah could feel herself blushing in the confines of the feathery soft, ocean blue pillow.
The one that Iseline had given her.
Delilah stepped back after ringing the doorbell, waving to the round-faced boy who glanced through the side window before opening the door. He ushered her in, shutting it and offering a quick, tight hug. He stepped away as Iseline walked down the stairs and waved, crossing his arms and lifting his chin.
"Of course, the first thing you do is visit after you get back from a trip." He said with a small sigh. He looked up at his older sister. "Is she your girlfriend yet?"
"No!" Iseline hissed, face red as she pushed him away into the next room.
"Well hurry up, then!" He yelled. "I'm getting bored with you, Is."
Sarcasm dripped from her voice. "Thanks a lot!"
Iseline took Delilah's hand, turning into the next hallway and leading her up two flights of stairs to the room that doubled as a lounge and movie theater.
"Sorry about Jax." She muttered, tying her hair back into a ponytail and sitting down next to Delilah. She reached forward to the glass table in front of the couch, taking the remote in one hand and a bag of pretzels from the wicker snack basket in the other.
Iseline fumbled for words, blushing. "He... you know. Whatever."
"It's... fine." Delilah replied with a small smile. She didn't say anything else when Iseline looked at her, taking a pretzel from her bag and crunching it as Iseline turned the TV on.
"Um... do you know Charlie?"
"Yeah, they're in makeup for the Drama Department." Her blush intensified. "They... told me what to sing for my audition. Did they say anything?"
Delilah glanced over at Iseline. "Your audition song. It was... really good." She fiddled with her hands. "I... loved it. And yes, they said it was... like... a love confession." Delilah quieted, waiting a long moment before speaking again. "Was it?"
Iseline placed the bag down on the table, turning to face her. Her face freckled red, voice soft when she spoke. "Do you want it to be?"
A thousand emotions rushed through Delilah's head. Her head, her entire body, and her heart. Every part of her seemed to melt at Iseline's words. It wasn't an "I love you" or anything, but... it almost felt like one.
Did she want it to be a confession of love? Did she want Iseline to be more than just her best friend?
She reached her hand forward, watching as her fingers laced together with Iseline's. A warmth spread through her when Iseline smiled, lighting up her face as she returned the small gesture.