Thursday, January 3, 2013

Creativity Outside the Box

Hello everyone! As you can probably tell, I've made a lot of adjustments to my blog layout. It's going back and forth between new and old right now and I'm sorry if that's really confusing. I really like the new layout but would like any opinions about it. It's still a work of progress and I'm furiously trying to figure out how to code. Does anyone else have a penchant for coding? I took a digital art and design class in freshman year and we did really basic coding before moving on to Dreamweaver. My newfound love for coding is back. All it takes are a couple tutorials and I'm ready to code.  I really must be a geek. If you haven't seen (probably because of this switching back and forth), I added a message board. Do you think you'll use it?

I just want to talk about the new title briefly. Wonderland. Life is a giant wonderland. I don't understand anything about how life works. There is no neat manual and things can suddenly turn bad in a single swift moment. Alice in Wonderland was one of my favorite books as a child. We all tumble down our own rabbit holes at one point. The rabbit hole is a period where we grow up and try to find who we are and who we want to be. Life is so unpredictable especially to those who just want to blitz through it and get to the top. Where's the fun in that? So I choose to be lost because being lost gives us time. Time we have but never think we have.

Once, I was on a hike and I just wanted to go home. I was so miserable. I triumphantly walked faster than I've ever walked before and yes I was done in about twenty minutes. I missed everything around me and I lost a moment to ponder and observe the trees and nature around me. We miss the beauty when we charge ahead.

Being lost isn't so bad because it gives you the chance to find your way out. You may meet perilous creatures and people for that matter but where else would you meet them? Similarly, we never use the left side of our brains enough. Only today, I've realized the true potential of creativity, and not logic.

Today, I decided I wanted some fresh air. It was uncharacteristic of me but I went out. I was in my flannel pajamas and gray sweater. I hadn't brushed my hair and I had the natural aura of someone who just rolled out of bed, literally. It was a really unplanned walk. I walked around for a while embracing the coldish winter air and decided it was time to go back.

My front door locks in two different ways. You can either lock the first latch or lock the doorknob. The latch wasn't locked so I assumed I left the door open while I went on a quick walk. I twisted the door and I felt my heart just sink. I even rang the doorbell in optimistic hope that I wouldn't be locked out. I wasn't all that worried because there's also a back door. I raced over and saw that the rope opening the six foot gate had fallen off. I was in panic mode. My dad would be home in two hours. I couldn't possibly wait that long outside. I was standing outside in the cold around 10 in the morning in my pajamas without my phone or even a house key.

No one can trap my creativity. Luckily today was the day everyone put out their trash. The trash cans are about three feet tall. Reluctantly, I waited for everyone to pass by until I dragged the trash can to the front gate. I nervously stood atop someone's trash can. I managed to swing open the gate and lodged a brick between the gate and the fence. I returned the trash can quickly and zipped inside with relief.

That's the last time, I'm leaving my house unexpectedly. But it really forces you to let your creativity run free. Perhaps with logic, I would've waited two hours because that's the most sensible thing to have done. I didn't want to be sensible, I wanted to be inside my house.

Life has the most unexpected ways of surprising you. And that is why I am lost in wonderland. And just one more surprise that comes along with a new blog layout. Coffee shop! Enjoy! 


Imperfections
Claire hated family reunions. She was wearing a pretty dress from Yves St. Laurence as she patiently awaited her frail grandmother and feisty grandfather. The dress was new and her mother had tried to win her over with material possessions. It didn’t work and Claire was still fuming as she sat in her room. It was maybe her second time seeing them but her first time formally meeting them. The door rang and she opened the door immediately. Claire remembered to smile. Her mother gracefully came down and pecked them both on the cheek. Her father shook Zed’s hand and kissed Lucy’s cheek. They were a smaller family compared to that of Ryan’s or even Noah’s. Vanessa’s family was huge and all over Europe and they seldom met all in one place. 
“My you’ve grown,” Lucy said politely before sitting on their couch. Her mother brought tea. Their family always started out with a discussion over tea before moving to the dining table. She felt as awkward as her father. Although he was part of the family, he was never fully integrated into it. Claire felt the same way. 
“The coffee business is going well,” he said to Natasha. “Do you think you’ll be able to handle it, Clarisse?” He never understood that her name was just Claire. It always was and always would be. 
“Of course, it’s my duty,” she said energetically. Before they came over her mother told her about the importance of earning some brownie points with Zed. 
“If you’re not serious, I know another person,” Zed said with a laugh. But everyone could tell that he was perfectly serious. This was why she needed those brownie points. Claire nervously laughed too. Her mother squirmed on the couch, which just made Claire more nervous. 
“And who would that be? You? I can’t beat you, Grandpa,” Claire said trying to joke. His expression became stern. 
“Actually, did you know you had cousins?” 
“Um, no I didn’t.” Claire stared at her mother. Natasha shied away from Claire’s determined look. So it was true. Was this the huge family news her mother had told her about? 
“Yes, your mother had a lovely sister, Kate. She ran away with that no good husband. He made Kate insane. She left her two beautiful children behind. The older one can’t possibly be fit for the job but there is another daughter.” Claire couldn’t help but sigh. His tone had changed from strict to loving as this mystery girl came into spectrum.
“What’s her name, Gramps?” He whipped his head around as if he had forgotten where he was. Lucy seemed a bit worried. 
“Her name is Marissa darling,” he said with another beaming smile. Since when did he call her darling? Claire just looked up and smiled. Darling was a good sign. Her mother squeezed her hand. Yes, darling was a great sign. “I told Kate not to run away with that man but she did anyways. Well the only good thing that came out of it was Marissa.” Claire wanted to sigh again but saw her father’s stern expression. Both of Zed’s daughters had almost the same story yet he favored Marissa so biasedly over her. Her mother was the one who stayed loyal to him even after he kicked them out. Kate ran away without her children but Natasha was always so loving. Claire knew she couldn’t win. She wondered how Marissa’s sister felt. 
“That’s nice, where does she live?” Natasha seemed a bit worried for some reason. 
“I think Jeanne called me about the dinner. Let me go over and check how everything is going.” Natasha excused herself and Claire wished she could leave too.
“She lives in West Village with that sister of hers. It’s obvious who’s saving that family.” Claire absently nodded. The coffee emporium and everything she ever wanted could be swooped from in one subtle move. She knew her parents had a fortune but more of the fortune was pinned to Zed. It was all in his will’s favor to who got the money. 
“How old is Marissa again?”
“Ah, I didn’t tell you yet, lass,” Zed said folding and putting away his reading glasses. She had been demoted to lass. “She’s your age, maybe a couple months younger.” Did Zed know her birthday? Claire smiled. She probably knew this Marissa. She could just imagine Marissa in her head. Marissa was probably the type of girl with long brown hair that she always took the liberty to curl. She wouldn’t step anywhere without makeup and wouldn’t say anything on her mind. There was no doubt that she’d be the backstabber without any conscience. This kind of girl didn’t deserve their beloved coffee chain. 
At the end of their dinner, Claire fondly waved goodbye to her grandparents. Her place in the will was not safe at all. It was obvious that Zed had an intense hatred for her. 
“You did well,” her mother said and patted her on the head. “But we need to get rid of this Marissa. Not rid of, but make you seem the more practical choice.” She had never heard her mother talk business in front of her. They both sense the imminent danger of this Marissa.
“I don’t think it’s a big problem,” Claire tried to say. Sabotaging and ruining people was not her style. 
“Do you not want your grandfather to include you in the will?” Claire sighed. There was no use fighting with her mother. It was obvious that something needed to be done. 
“Fine, who is she?” 
“Her name is Marissa Houghton and I haven’t seen her in a long time. I wouldn’t be able to give you an accurate description. She lives with that awful sister of hers. At least Zed doesn’t like her either. I wouldn’t be able to live seeing her in charge. That girl has a daughter for crying out loud!” 
“Do you anything else about Marissa?”
“She lives in West Village and goes to that prestigious school your friend’s sister goes to.” She closed her eyes and tried to concentrate. Pemm Wimberley’s School for Talented Girls was where Vanessa’s sister went. Claire sighed. How was she ever going to convince Zed that she was better than a Wimberley girl? Claire took a taxi back to the dorm. She couldn’t stand being home even on a Sunday. She knocked on the door to Vanessa’s room. Vanessa stared at her with a worried look. Was she that pale and sallow? 
“What happened?” 
“I need to know who Marissa Houghton is.” 
“Why?” Vanessa looked almost disgusted. 
“My grandfather thinks she’s the greatest person on this earth. She’s perfect, Nessa.” 
“Have you met her?” 
“No, but,” Claire said. Vanessa just smirked. 
Mars Houghton is not worth your time, Claire. So what if your grandfather likes her? She’s disgraced.”  
Alyssa Atkins brushed her hazel hair and checked for split ends in her locker mirror. She loved having a locker and everything about high school. She had already been a freshman for half a year but she still enjoyed the feeling of donning her school blazer. Halle had been a Wimberley girl in high school and Alyssa had always wanted to follow in Halle’s footsteps. She didn’t understand why Vanessa was wasting time at Le Cordon Bleu Academy. She strolled off to the state of art cafeteria and found Julianne and Roxy waiting for her. Alyssa placed her Burberry tote onto the table and took out her lunch. It was still a faux pas to buy a lunch. Alyssa wistfully glanced at the greasy curly fries on someone else’s tray. She stared again at her waistline. Dion, her personal trainer, would kill her if she ate even one. 
“Did you hear?” She stared up anxiously at Julianne. Julianne knew all the happenings around their school and even Redford Day. Alyssa provided them with the juicy tidbits about Le Cordon Bleu. Roxy looked just as eager to hear. So, it was a new happening. Julianne Rossmoor was great at being dramatic. She always had that way of narrowing her eyes and slightly cupping her hand towards her mouth. 
“Spill!” Alyssa said applying a new coat of lip-gloss. It didn’t matter that she would be eating lunch in two or three minutes. Alyssa always wanted to look nice, especially when gossiping. 
“Mars Houghton is missing for like the fifteenth time this semester.” Alyssa straightened her back. She wondered what was going on. People like Mars didn’t miss school, ever. The one good thing about their school was that with a reasonable excuse, the school wouldn’t sully your permanent record. The school couldn’t afford to if it wanted to keep up its prestige. 
“How do you know?” Roxy shot back. It was true that some of Julianne’s stats were a bit fishy. Julianne didn’t even have any classes with Mars. 
“I heard from Lulu.” That elicited another eye roll from both Alyssa and Roxy. Neither of them liked Lulu and she wasn’t to be trusted with anything. Alyssa hated people who didn’t know their rightful place on the social ladder. Lulu only thought she was higher up than Alyssa because she was a Schrodinger now and an upperclassmen. “You may not want to believe her but she does share classes with Mars.”
“Why are we so obsessed with Mars again?” Mars Houghton was not someone she was all that interested in. 
“I don’t know,” Roxy said absently. “Hey did you read Rissa’s latest post?” The conversation was naturally switched away from Mars into a topic that Alyssa was comfortable with. 
“Don’t you wish you were going to Paris fashion week?” Julianne was holding up a glossy magazine. When had she pulled it out of her backpack? Julianne always carried around some gossip magazine and all three of them just laughed. They were meant to be friends. 
“I’d give anything,” Roxy said pulling up a picture on her phone. “For an early birthday present, my aunt said she got tickets. I bought a new dress from Alexander Wang. It was brand new and burned a hole in my pocket but I knew I needed to look classy and sophisticated to this thing. It turns out that she thought I said Paris spring break. I don’t know how. My parents even made me return the dress.” Roxy pouted. 
Alyssa sighed. She had tried begging her parents, and even Vanessa, but she couldn’t secure tickets. They didn’t understand why she needed to go to this. The fashion show would be happening for a whole entire week and her parents said that she couldn’t afford to miss school. In that moment of angst and frustration she had she didn’t even have to study since they could send her to college with a hefty donation. That earned her a week without television and spa appointments. Her mother had even threatened to cancel her phone contract. Alyssa was disappointed in Vanessa’s lack of interest. She even said that she had tickets but gave them away. Alyssa was still angry with her for that. Vanessa was an awful older sister. She missed Halle. Halle would’ve understood. 
“It’s Lillian Townshend,” Roxy squealed. Paris fashion week was aptly forgotten. Alyssa touched her sensitive ear and her lips curled into a sly smile. 
“I know Lillian. She’s one of my sister’s friends.” Both girls stared immediately at her with awed expressions. The rest of the day was uneventful. Alyssa had kept an eye out for Lulu. It was rumored that Lulu would be attending this. Alyssa had even ditched her friends at the end of seventh period. She said something about her sister coming home, which was true, despite the fact that today was Monday. She found Lulu trimming her nails in front of the Iron Gate. There was absolutely nothing special about Lulu and Alyssa wondered if the Paris fashion show was even worth the embarrassment that this could cause. 
“Hey Lulu,” she said trying to keep a cheery attitude. Lulu curtly nodded. She looked impatient and annoyed that Alyssa was still standing there. 
“I’m Alyssa by the way.”
“I know who you are. Now, would you move out of the way?” Alyssa wondered if Lulu was always this irritable. Probably, she decided. She hadn’t encountered Lulu much and it was always unpleasant when she did. 
“I heard you were going to Paris fashion week,” Alyssa said. Lulu turned her full attention to her. Her face had transformed into a lovely sneer. 
“So I am, will I be seeing you there?” Alyssa gritted her teeth. 
“Maybe, I didn’t think this one was worth my time.” She knew that Lulu could see through her thinly veiled lies and defense. “I could be persuaded to go if you had an extra ticket.” Had she actually just said that? 
“Hmph, like that would happen. Now out of my way,” Lulu said pushing her to the side of the pavement. She pranced away waving at her stepbrother Gregory. Alyssa felt sort of sorry for Gregory before remembering the heinous rumors. Alyssa walked home, for once. She wanted to feel the spring air on her newly waxed calves. She hadn’t worn her school skirt without tights in the longest of times. Alyssa still stared down at her patent Mary Jane inspired shoes. These would have to go she decided as she opened the front door. Vanessa was already there reading something serious. Vanessa glanced past her as if seeing her sister wasn’t a big deal. 
“Hi Vanessa,” Alyssa said rolling her eyes. She wondered if her sister had been drunk in the past week. There was no way a sane person could’ve sold off those tickets without feeling remorse and regret. Didn’t she want to go too? There were probably thousands of people from her school who were going. Wasn’t Claire O’Shea going? Maybe Ryan was even asking Claire to go for a weeklong date. Eek! How romantic. She wondered how Vanessa felt about their relationship. She was best friends with Claire now even after that whole Ryan situation. Alyssa wondered if she could stay friends if Roxy or Julianne had stolen her boyfriend. Why didn’t she have a boyfriend? That was perplexing. Roxy had been with the same guy for over a year now and Julianne, well Julianne never had the hots for the same guy for more than a week. Why didn’t Vanessa have a boyfriend either? She sighed in defeat and wondered if Lillian could secure her tickets. It was obvious that Lillian was going and in possession of tickets. 
“So wonderful to have you at home, Vanessa,” her mother said kissing Vanessa on the forehead. Vanessa lived maybe twenty minutes away from their house. Why didn’t her mother ever say that to her? She already knew she’d be moving far, far away for college. Maybe Oxford or Cambridge would be far enough. She could meet a hot British guy who was maybe part of a band. 
“Did you hear what I asked Alyssa?” 
“What did you say, Mom?” Her mother closed her eyes in that way she often did when something was displeasing her. 
“Mom found you tickets to go to that show,” Vanessa said. She didn’t even sound excited.
“Isn’t Claire or one of your other friends going to that? Shouldn’t you want to go too?” 
“I am going, Lys.” What was up with these curt, cryptic responses? Vanessa was confounding her once again. 
“There’s something important we have to talk about though, dear. Alyssa! Do you know Gregory Schrodinger?” There was a lump in her throat. Alyssa hadn’t ever wanted this day to come. So that was what those tickets were for. Her mother seemed to understand that Alyssa was already processing this. She took out the tickets from her yellow purse and fanned them practically in front of her face. There were two tickets, probably one for her and one for Vanessa. Was this why Vanessa had been so moody about the show? Maybe Vanessa wasn’t as bad a sister as she thought. This same scenario had actually happened. Vanessa had wanted to go to France and England on a school trip and their mother used it to match Vanessa and Ryan up. Didn’t their mother know by now that that caused unnecessary drama? The Atkins name was still suffering from the mess that Vanessa caused with Ryan. 
“Yes.” 
“Great! I heard that he’s a nice boy and he’s going too.” Gregory was attractive. He was very attractive but everyone knew that he was a scumbag. Did she want to go that badly? She stared at Vanessa and felt sorry for once. If she wanted to do this then Vanessa would unhappily be chained along. Alyssa’s eyes wandered to the tickets again. They were in her reach. Her mother didn’t have to say anymore as Alyssa reluctantly grabbed the tickets. 
“My little darling,” she said kissing the top of her forehead. “I’ll see you two at dinner.” 
“Sorry, sorry, sorry,” Alyssa said pleading. Vanessa just cast her away but looked like she was about to cry. What was so bad about going anyway? Alyssa wanted to ask but her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of an incoming email. Vanessa stopped walking away and retreated back to the couch. What was that about? Alyssa opened the email icon on her phone and saw that Rissa Hass had emailed her. She opened it immediately when her eyes scanned the word rejected
“Rissa Hass rejected me!” Alyssa felt angry. What right did Rissa have to reject her? Vanessa just snidely smiled at her. 
“I know. My friend Dani Hastings got the job. Too bad you aren’t nicer to me.” Vanessa walked away and Alyssa stood there with hurt pride. She ran to her room and changed. She changed into a short bodycon skirt and pulled up the annoying, itchy tights. Alyssa wore a flashy top from BCBG and slipped on a leather jacket from Michael Kors. She found an old necklace from Tiffany and left swinging her small Prada clutch. She’d be back before dinner. Alyssa walked a couple blocks and down the stairs into the subway terminal. She hated the subway but today, it was necessary. Alyssa bought her ticket and hurriedly and ran into the nearest open subway. The doors were almost closing but she made it in time. The subway reeked of all sorts of different smells. Alyssa reapplied hand sanitizer just to ignore the horrible smells around her. Should she have brought perfume too? Maybe she’d buy some perfume for the ride back. She’d just blow off some money and then she knew she’d feel better. Alyssa was in need of new shoes. How was she going to impress Gregory without any decent shoes? The thought of Gregory made her spine coil. Alyssa had never shopped by herself. It was a faux pas. She didn’t care and let her hair free in the windy streets of New York. The department stores were open until eight and Alyssa ran in with nothing stopping her. It was about five thirty when she was done shopping. She bought a new necklace from Tiffany and some shoes from ChloĆ©. The kitten heels were a thousand and three hundred dollars but every dollar was worth it. For the sake of saving money, she had only bought a small silver pendant necklace that only cost around a hundred dollars. Alyssa hadn’t bought perfume. The exhilaration of shopping it off always helped her feel better. She wasn’t mad anymore. Maybe she’d even give the necklace to Vanessa. She waited in the dark underground until the right subway came. It was getting dark out and she was starting to get scared. 
“Hey pretty girl, what you got there?” Someone asked pulling in way too close to her. She wasn’t even on the subway yet. She hid her carrier bags behind her back and wondered what to do. 
“Leave her alone, Jordan,” some guy said with a deep voice. She stared up at him. He was holding a bicycle and was still wearing what looked liked a school backpack. 
“What’s your problem?” The guy named Jordan looked sort of pissed but moved away from her and that was enough. She stared up at the guy who had just saved her. She felt butterflies floating around the acid in her stomach. He was handsome, that was for sure. She wanted to cling on to him but she knew that was another faux pas. Alyssa wasn’t in the mood to break more than one. 
“I’m Alyssa,” she said refraining from adding her last name. 
“Stephen, Stephen York.” He grinned at her gaping expression. It wasn’t everyday that she got to meet a York. 
“Well if we’re playing that game, Alyssa Atkins.” She saw his eyes sparkle and flare up at her last name. Last names meant the world here. Alyssa smiled and they found seats together. He walked her home being the gentleman that he was. She stared down at her wristwatch and saw that she wasn’t late yet. She rang the doorbell and saw an angry Vanessa. Was Vanessa always angry these days? 
“I think I’m in love,” she whispered to Vanessa before shyly looking back at Stephen. Vanessa had turned an odd puce color. Did they have something? Nah, Vanessa was a clingy type of girl. She made her feelings clear and everyone knew which guys were hers. Vanessa also knew everyone. Stephen had probably insulted at a party once. 
“You go ahead, I’m not okay with strangers dropping my sister off. What if he kidnapped you, Alyssa? What then? You have to be smarter than this,” Vanessa ranted. Alyssa just skipped past her and went inside. That Tiffany necklace was definitely not going to be Vanessa’s. 
Vanessa was already having one of the worst days in her life. The fact that she was being forced to attend this Paris fashion show made her blood boil. Sure it was the fancy of any other girl to attend this but not her. Stephen would be there. She wouldn’t be able to avoid him for a whole week and she wasn’t ready to face him. He called her nonstop and left texts every hour. She wondered if this was how Ryan felt. The worst part was that she wanted to just give in and tell him to kiss her and take her on fancy dates; but that would mean losing and Vanessa only lost once. To lose again would shame her family more than she already had. Vanessa emerged out of her room and felt slightly bad that she had been so harsh to Alyssa. She didn’t see Alyssa all that much and she knew she should’ve tried to be a little nicer. Alyssa was so dense sometimes and obviously hadn’t caught the warning that Vanessa had been sending her. She knocked on Alyssa’s door but no one answered. Alyssa wasn’t one to ever be silent. She voiced every single opinion into the open world. Vanessa found clothes scattered everywhere. Alyssa’s school blazer had been tossed like trash onto the floor. Vanessa groaned. Alyssa was probably the least responsible sister ever. She was a freshman now too. It was obvious that Alyssa had gone shopping again. Her eyes found the cheap looking Mary Jane’s that Alyssa claimed to have been a good buy. Why didn’t Alyssa ever listen to her? Vanessa wondered when Halle would come home. Maybe Halle would be there. Vanessa hated being the older sister. She heard the door ring and knew that her mother would burst into flames if she saw that Alyssa had squandered money again. It was true that there was no limit to the money in bank accounts but her mother was paranoid about buying worthless things. She glared at her sister through the window. Vanessa drew the curtain up to see that Stephen was standing behind Alyssa. Vanessa angrily marched down the front stairs when her sister whispered something appalling. 
“I think I’m in love,” Alyssa said skipping ahead of her. Vanessa’s breathing became shallow. What was she supposed to do? She wasn’t ready to accept or reject Stephen. She liked the fact that he was waiting for her but now here was another thing that Alyssa had ruined. It was obvious that she needed to give Stephen to Alyssa. 
“Stephen, what are you doing here?” Stephen didn’t even look ashamed. Vanessa crossed her arms over her chest. 
“I tried calling you, Nessa. Why won’t you pick up? Can’t even talk?” 
“Don’t call me that. I think you made it clear that you didn’t want me. What more do you want to say?”
“I’m telling you, I didn’t send that.” 
“Then who did?” 
“A family friend did, but I sorted that out, Ness. I just want to be with you, for real. Will you give me a chance?” Vanessa hesitated. Her sister was probably watching from the window. 
“Why did you have to drag my sister into this?” 
“Vanessa, you haven’t responded since you received that letter. How else was I supposed to find you?”
“You’re taking advantage of her. She’s a freshman.” 
“Why should you care if I do like her?” 
“Are you saying that you do?” 
“You are impossible.” Vanessa wondered what that meant. She did have to make a decision soon. If she did agree to keep seeing Stephen and eventually date him, she’d hurt Alyssa forever. If she gave Alyssa Stephen, then she would hurt forever. Who’s emotions were more important? 
“I’ll tell you in France, how I feel,” Vanessa said and left him standing there. She sighed and went up to her room. She never stayed there and it would soon be time to leave again. Her sister was selfish and could only see herself. It was up to Vanessa to straighten her out but Vanessa didn’t know how. Vanessa took out her cell phone and dialed Halle hoping that Halle hadn’t changed her phone number. She hadn’t talked to Halle for over three months now. She missed Halle incredibly but knew that Halle was busy. 
“Hello?” It was Halle. 
“Hi Hal, it’s Vanessa. Can we talk?” 
“Sure, Ness, what’s up?” Vanessa smiled. Hearing her sister’s soft and easy going voice placated her. 
“Let’s say you and I liked the same boy. You know this and I don’t. Would you give the guy to me?” Halle was about four years older than her. Halle first laughed but it was a nice laugh, of joy not hatred. 
“Are you guys having boy issues without me? If you like the boy, then don’t give him up, Nessa. Why do you feel the obligation to give up your own happiness? We both know Alyssa and she’s impulsive and still is a kid. She doesn’t actually know how to love anyone yet. She’ll forgive you but will you forgive yourself for letting this guy get away? Will I see you in France?”
“Yes, unfortunately.” 
“Will I see this guy?”
“Yes, also unfortunately.” They talked for a while before Vanessa hung up the phone. It was dinner soon and then time to go. 
Mars stared at her blank screen and let out a frustrated groan. She and Stephen had had an official falling out. This had never happened before. Mars hadn’t thought that he liked Vanessa that much. Vanessa was a shallow airhead and wasn’t worth Stephen’s time. Wasn’t he friends with Ryan? Didn’t he hear any rumors? She wondered what to type to her audience. Did they want to know that even she got rejected? Ah, but she wasn’t Rissa Hass. Rissa probably always dumped guys. Mars wanted to know how this blog had gotten so far. It was all because of Stephen and now even he had abandoned her. She had even chosen Dani as her assistant despite her lack of qualifications to please Stephen. This had gone ignored. Maybe she should always be Rissa from now on as Stephen had suggested. Was that even remotely possible? The tears slowly dripped down her face, to her horror. She thought back to the day he called to see her, immediately. He was angry and she had never seen him that angry before. He asked why she had done it. She shrugged and said that she loved him. It was probably the worst time to confess her feelings. He reminded her yet again of all the events past. They couldn’t be together and she finally recognized it. She had effectively put an end to their friendship as well. She started to type. What to Do When You Have a One Sided Crush she typed. Mars had been rejected a couple times but none of them hurt so much as this time. 
In an hour she was done typing and editing. The post was up and people were already commenting. This is so relatable someone had posted. Mars wanted to say that this was because she was one of them. She didn’t and she logged off her computer. There were always some hate posts because Mars was against censoring her comments. So what if people didn’t like what she had to say? They were still coming back even if to rant about her. She told Dani to check the email and that that was her only duty so far. Dani was not to send even a single email out. She didn’t trust Dani with that much responsibility yet. Dani would star the important emails and Mars would read them all the way here in New York. She only paid Dani $1000 a month but Dani seemed overjoyed about it. Mars took an Advil after she was done writing. She had to go to Paris for a week for the fashion show. It was imperative that she went especially since Valentino had agreed to pay for everything. Her hair was growing longer but the people of Valentino told her to change nothing about her look until she arrived in Paris. They were responsible for that. She would leave on a private plane in one week. She had to miss three hours of school today in order to meet with the people over at Valentino. They were preparing all the clothes she would wear publically for that week. 
“What are you thinking about?” Jenna asked her sitting down at the kitchen table. 
“Everything,” she said back. “Stephen hates me.” Jenna sympathetically petted Mars’s shoulder. 
“It’ll be okay. Stephen will get his silly girl and you can move on with your life. Why did you choose Bobby?” Bobby was old news yet he kept popping up in every conversation that she had. 
“He was normal and I wanted to be normal too.” 
“Mars, you’re brilliant. Why would you settle for normality? You are Rissa Hass after all, aren’t you?” 
“Jenna, that’s the thing. I’m an imposter. I’m not Rissa Hass.”
“Tons of authors have pen names,” Jenna said scouring the room for Daisy. 
“Blogging and writing novels are two different things. People feel like they know Rissa Hass because they read some tidbits about her life that are remotely true. They don’t read Rissa Says because she’s a good writer or her humor or anything like that. They read about her because they want to be her, not me.”  
“Mars, you are Rissa and it’s time to acknowledge that.” She mulled over that sentence in her brain. It repeated over and over and yet she still didn’t have any clue to what it meant. Her phone rang and provided just the right distraction. She answered it and heard Skylar’s chirpy voice. Mars had been friends with Skylar ever since the whole Bobby thing. They went to the same school and Mars was relatively happy with their friendship. She knew that Skylar wanted fame and popularity but it didn’t stop them from being friends. She also knew that Skylar was not one to be trusted with her secrets, especially about being Rissa Hass. Skylar wanted to meet in front of the ice cream shop. Mars really didn’t have anything better to do and pulled over an unfashionable green pea coat. She always made sure that she never wore anything fashionable. She was still under interrogation for wearing the gold boots. Skylar was there sporting almost a copycat hair style. 
“I heard you’re going to the Paris fashion show.” They ordered ice cream, mint chocolate chip for Mars and strawberry for Skylar, and sat down at one of the tables outside. 
“What me?” The alibi was that she was visiting a sick relative in Albany. When had that rumor started? “I don’t even like fashion.” 
“Just making sure, geez,” Skylar said with that arrogant tone she often addressed Mars in. Skylar truly believed that Mars was a charity case and it didn’t bug Mars all that much. She did anything to ruin her reputation at school. That way no one could even think about linking her and Rissa together. “I would give anything to be there.” 
“It probably won’t even be that great,” Mars said wishing she hadn’t come to see Skylar after all. 
“Is that pea coat from Hermes?” Didn’t she know that Hermes was not a place that sold pea coats? Mars was annoyed at how everyone thought they could just use brand names to boost their intelligence. Instead of telling her off, Mars feigned ignorance. “It’s really pretty. I want one too.” Mars stared down at her own pea coat. She sighed. Skylar really was that unfashionable after all. 
“Hermes? Like Greek mythology?” Mars abruptly responded when she saw that Skylar was still waiting for a response. 
“You’re so fashionable, Mars. I’m jealous,” Skylar said in her patronizing tone. There was still a small hint of truth to that statement. Mars stood up from their table to get a napkin. From the corner of her eye, Skylar was trying on the baggy jacket that Mars so hated. It looked terrible on her and Skylar looked peeved. 
Cassandra Hastings was sitting amongst other wives of doctors. She was uncomfortable but didn’t let it show. They were sitting in a dreadful room. The walls were painted a sickly cotton candy pink. Her expensive shoes always chaffed on the vinyl flooring.  The plastic chairs always squeaked and the ladies stared at her as if she had gained give pounds. She hadn’t, of course. Most of them were just the wives of her husband’s friends. In the short time that they had moved here, Marcus had already found a job. He didn’t like this job because of its relatively low pay but beggars couldn’t be choosers. He was always mentioning how much he missed his job in Sacramento. Marcus had also found a new group of influential friends that complemented his influential job. He suggested that she join them and maybe someone could help her find a job. Cassandra didn’t like hanging around them all that often but she did just to please Marcus. They made her feel so young and that she didn’t know anything at all. She didn’t bring that up with Marcus. Marcus had been getting increasingly angry with her. The job search was harder than she had expected. She was too proud to ask any of the ladies at this club. There hadn’t ever been a position in the first place but no one had to know that. Cassandra smoothed the wrinkles on her pencil skirt. She crossed her ankles and folded her hands into her lap. She smiled up at the rest of the doctor wives. They had given up their careers and were the housewives of the upper class. She longed for a child but knew that Marcus was done with children after Danielle. 
“My daughter drives me crazy sometimes,” Petunia, the lady with curly red hair, started to say. She grinned a little too much and her nose was too pointy for Cassandra’s liking. Petunia had a face lift every now and then and her lips had been injected with collagen to make them seem rounder and fuller. Cassandra could still see the old age beneath all the work done. Her only friend in this large group of maybe fifteen women was Lindy. Lindy was like her in almost every aspect. They had become fast friends. Lindy had married a man fifteen years older when she had been the receptionist for that hospital. He was already married with two kids but that didn’t matter to Lindy, or Cassandra for that matter. 
“You have to be able to assert yourself, Petunia,” Lindy started to say. Cassandra sighed. That was the one difference between her and Lindy. Lindy had control over her life. Her husband loved her and never questioned any of her actions or spending. His children listened to her even if they didn’t like her. The other women resented Lindy for her parenting advice. Here was a twenty seven year old woman chastising a fifty-year-old mother. Lindy never wanted kids. “Cassandra has that issue too. Her stepdaughter Danielle is just awful.” Cassandra hadn’t wanted to draw any attention to her. 
“Absolutely,” Cassandra chimed in when all the women turned to look at her. “Danielle has never accepted me as her mother and she never listens to anything that I say. She betrayed my trust when she ran off to New York.” That part wasn’t exactly true but Cassandra couldn’t care less. “Now she’s got some job behind my back and she’s making good money. I don’t know what she does and she won’t tell me. How can I care for her if she won’t even tell me what’s going on. She’s going to Paris with some boyfriend of hers and I am so frustrated. I know that she’s going to ruin her life.” The other ladies looked at her with terrible pity. Lindy smiled at her. She had done it. She was a part of the club.
“I’ve heard about this girl,” some other lady chimed in. “Dani, right? She attends my daughter Catherine’s school. Catherine is always asking me why she can’t be like Dani. You must do something, Cassandra. You have to show your authority. Did you ladies know that Danielle is running off to New York every weekend? That boyfriend is someone you need to get rid of!” 
“Is she . . . selling herself? I’ve heard of some very misled and confused girls thinking that the only way to the top is by,” Petunia’s screechy voice reduced to a small whisper, “sleeping their way up. That boyfriend has to go. He’s probably forty years old with too much money on his hands.” Lindy flashed another smile towards Cassandra. 
“Oh God, I don’t know,” Cassandra said. She wondered where all of this was coming from. Noah was a nice boy, too nice for Dani’s own good. “Please don’t mention any of this to Marcus. He’d be so angry with her and that’s not the way to solve the problem. I’ve tried.” The ladies all nodded in a sympathetic manner. 
“You did wonderful,” Lindy said in proud maternal voice. “You need to crush Dani down to show her that you have the power. Why are you letting her stomp all over you?”
“What can I do though?” 
“Do what I did,” Lindy said with a smile. “Intervene in her life.” Cassandra wondered if that was the way to go. 
“What about Paris? As long as Dani funds all of this herself, I can’t do anything. Dani is smart, Lindy. Marcus is becoming wary of me too. He asks where I am at all times and looks at my checking account in full detail.” 
“What does Dani do for work? Do you know?”
“She’s some assistant for that blog Rissa Says. You don’t read it right?” Cassandra had peeked at it once or twice and was hooked. She didn’t let that on though. What would the ladies at this club say if they knew she was reading it? 
“No, but my stepdaughters do. Dani obviously has some very powerful friends. A girl like her can’t get a job like that unless you know everyone important.” Cassandra nodded her head. Dani was becoming untouchable. “You need to act fast.” Cassandra sighed and wanted to know what the next step was. She went home and relieved that she was here alone. Cassandra squeezed her eyes shut as if that would turn off her morality. She ran up the stairs in a heartbeat and opened the room to Dani’s room. Dani had threatened to get a doorknob that locked but she hadn’t implemented anything. Cassandra stared at her own hunched posture and nervousness. She was Dani’s mother there was no reason for her to be sneaking around. Any mother had full access to their children’s behavior. Lindy would smile. Cassandra opened the door after a moment’s hesitation. The room was clean, compared to Lucas’s, and void of personalization. There were no photos anywhere except one small frame of her and Noah tucked behind snow globes and candles. The bed was made and her clothes were folded into drawers. Cassandra wondered what she had been hoping to find. She walked over the sturdy wooden desk and pulled the first drawer marked “private.” Lindy had said that there was nothing private between mother and daughter. There were a couple pencils and a dead highlighter. What was so private about this at all? Cassandra pushed the junk around to find a folded picture of Dani and Noah. They were holding hands and Cassandra wondered who had taken it. Cassandra reached further into the abyss to find a folded plane ticket. She found Dani’s passport neatly tucked in the drawer as well. A wicked smile painted itself onto Cassandra’s face. She took it and scattered the pencils.


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