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Trying to Outrun the Moonshine
And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the will of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow thou shalt eat of it all the days of the life.
“But Mom! I can’t go to Tianam! Not now! Joe is having someone pick me up for an interview in Charlotte!” I ran after her down her the hallway.
“I don’t care. And by the way, no more fashion shows, no commercials, no shoots, no nothing. For the entire summer.”
There was a moment of absolute silence as we stared at each other. “What did you say?” I asked.
She turned on her heel and started walking again. “You heard me. Now go get dressed. One hour!”
I chased after her again. “Mom!” I begged, almost shrieked. “You don’t understand! This is Hans Bleint! And after that is Juanita June! I can’t pass that up!” I grabbed her arm. “Please!”
“You’ll thank me later. Now don’t argue with me.” she patted my hand before prying my fingers off her sleeve.
“Thank you? Why would I thank you for ruining my life?” I stomped my foot.
She shrugged and offered me a half-smile. “I have a feeling, you know? Now go pray. Fifty-five minutes!”
My life is slowly spiralling out of my control. I banged around my room, tossing my clothes on the bed. Flora appeared silently, helping me pack. My clothes were either conservative and unattractive or conventional and not very pretty. I had liked them that way; I had picked them out. I only needed to dress fancy for modelling jobs and parties and stuff. But now they felt embarrassingly plain going to the capital of Dan Cae. I shoved them in. My sister owed me a shopping trip. No, scratch that. My mom owed me a shopping trip.
No modeling for the summer? As in, the entire summer? My own mother would do this to me. Her and her stupid feelings. What did she think she was, psychic or something? One thing was for sure, I wouldn’t be the one to tell Joe that my life was cancelled for the summer. I pictured mom trying to explain this to charismatic Joe. Perfect. We’ll see who’s smiling then.
“She’s waiting in the car,” Mom said as I came down the stairs, wearing my darkest sunglasses that really bugged her. Dad was grinning like a kangaroo. I couldn’t believe he was actually in on this. Maybe it was because Monica was his little Princess. Anything involving the little ray of sunshine was enough to make him smile.
She held up a finger. “Whatever it is, no. this is nonnegotiable. You’re going to Tianam, and you’re not coming back until I say you can.”
“You are kicking me out of my own house? this is what its come to? This is so unfair!” I needed this job, not for money, obviously, but it kept my mind off…other things. “Dad, do something!”
Dad half-smiled at me, as mom had. “Sorry, hon. You need to find your balance. For the last couple years, you’ve been so completely focused on modeling that we hardly see you anymore.”
So why on earth are you sending me away? This was Mr. There’ll Be Plenty Of Time To Go To The Beach? After one long look at him, and mom, I stormed out the door.
The jet pilot, drove us to the hangar, helped us in. Zac was lounging in the back beside Monica. I settled in for a long flight to Tianam.
The big jet started up with a roar. I pounded on my iPod touch, IMing my fellow model Christina in Monte Carlo.
Silent Nite: OMG I cant believe this I have Bn Xild 2 TIANAML
Cookie Monstr: OMG what?!!
Silent Nite: like that’s totally what I said. No gigs for the summer
Cookie Monstr: that sucks but what about jo?
Silent Nite: I no mom had better talk 2 him I won’t do it!
Cookie Monstr: totally. g2g TTYL
We didn’t get to Tianam before late afternoon. From the pristine but snobby looking rosebushes down to the even snobbier looking palm trees, it was pretty swanky. Until I caught sight of Monica’s house.
It wasn’t a bad-looking house. It had personality, I had to admit. It was strategic placing to put in next to the newer, nicer homes. My father bought it for her on the happy day that she finally moved out of our house. His taste was questionable, but from the conversations I had overheard when Monica talked to her friends, she adored the place. But what was I doing here? I was a rising star; Monica didn’t even have a doorman.
Morgan said goodbye and sped back down the road toward our hangar. Monica’s chauffeur, Evela waved at me. I dumped all my stuff into the front hall. Monica’s house was bigger than it looked on the outside. I looked around at the interior front entrance. The entire house was furnished with wooden decor. The kitchen was the only room with painted walls, which were yellow. There were wooden statues of exotic objects placed in a seemingly random order everywhere. Monica was standing at the top of a wooden staircase, looking at me. Zac was at her feet.
“I put your stuff in your room,” she said. She spread her arms wide. “So what do you think?”
“You up for a tour?”
She bit her lip. “Okay. Your room’s the one at the top of the stairs. Supper’s in two hours.”
I stalked up the stairs.
The bed was okay. The headboard was thick enough to put books on. Next to it was a wooden bookshelf filled with more books, and there was a sofa, a desk, and a balcony with French doors. The walls were painted medium plum with white trim to match the bedspread. I went out to the balcony instead of collapsing on the bed.
Cars zoomed back and forth below me. The sun was casting a strange shadow that made the street seem golden. The disgusting smell of fast food and gasoline tinted the sticky, putrid air.
I didn’t go down for supper, and Monica didn’t come up to get me. Suddenly, Lady Gaga’s Alejandro blasted from my pocket. Joe.
“Hanuara.” His voice was even, in that calm-before-the-storm way. but why was he mad at me? It wasn’t like I had done anything but try to keep up with the schedule he had created for me.
“How are you, Joe?” I was trying to keep my composure.
“How do you think I am, Hanuara? I’ve been trying to reach you for the past couple hours.”
“I’m sorry, Joe, I couldn’t stop her! She’s crazy; I didn’t even get any say—”
But he cut me off. “I don’t want to hear any excuses. I just phoned to tell you that I am not happy, not at all, and that as soon as you think you can I want you to talk to your mother. Maybe you can convince her to let you do just one show.”
“And which one would that be?”
He paused, for suspense. “Iris.”
At first I wasn’t sure I heard him right. “JOE! NO WAY YOU DIDN’T!”
“Hanuara, calm down!” Joe laughed, himself again. “It’s at the end of the summer, August twenty-fourth, and only if you can talk to your mother.”
“Oh, my gosh, that’s awesome! I love you, Joe!”
My phone snapped shut and I did a twirl. Iris was a summer wear and accessory franchise that exported all over the world. Lady Kate had modeled for them. Ursula Lansfield, Megan Christensen, Harriet Weatherson. They had all left their imprints on the Iris runway. This was bigger than Hans Bleint. It was bigger than Juanita June. It wasn’t just big, it was huge. I didn’t know anyone bigger. If you got in with Iris once, you are set for the rest of your career, and when you retire, you could buy a space agency. You could buy NASA and leave them all with million-dollar pensions. You could do whatever you wanted.
You leave everyone else eating your dust.
There was no way mom could say no to this. No way at all. And even if she did, Dad would pull through for me. There was no way this wasn’t going to happen. I hadn’t even remembered to ask Joe which of his third cousins were connecting to this one. Frankly, I didn’t care. I was going to be an Iris model!!!
But just I had to go home first. I wondered how I was going to do it. should I play it all sweet and pretend like I actually found my balance? Or go totally brat star until Monica begged that I go home? I thought the former would take too much time, since I was supposed to stay for the entire summer and I would probably just get an I-told-you-so, and the latter just seemed more fun. When Monica went to her room, I crept downstairs and opened the refrigerator door. there was left over pizza, milk, and a whole watermelon. Weirdo. I took the entire plate up to my room.
The night was warm and the stars were invisible due to the smog. The beeping horns, sirens, and club and bar music floated up to me. I would never sleep with all that noise. Everything about this place screamed Big City. If I concentrated, I thought I could smell the ocean, past the pollution and fast food.
I longed for my golden countryside, with running streams and rolling hills. I never thought that place could ever be my home, but it was. And I was exiled from it.
Oh, well. If I couldn’t have my running streams, at least I could still swim in Monica’s pool. That was almost as good. I padded downstairs and onto the back deck. The pool was attached. The smog covered moon shining on the water was the only light. I swam lazily toward its reflection, remembering a night similar to this one, many years ago.
“Come on, Monica! We’ll catch it if you go faster!” Adam bounced up and down at the boat railing. I was seven and he had just turned nine, and Monica was fifteen. She had just gotten her boating license so she took us out on the river in the tiniest boat we had to celebrate. The moon was a milky bright disc, rippled to a smudge by the running water. At mine and Adam’s urging, she was driving toward it at top speed. The faster she went, the faster it went. It always stayed in the same position: just out of reach.
Monica was laughing as she drew the boat to a stop, like she knew something we didn’t. “We’re not going to catch it that way, guys. Can’t you see that the closer we think we are, the further it really is?” She looked at us with her lopsided grin. Eyes wide, we both nodded. It was impossible. “But…” she scratched her chin. “Does someone want to go out in the tube and get me a bottle of river water?” she looked from face to face.
“River water?” Adam scrunched his nose. “How is drinking river water going to help us touch the moon?”
Monica smiled wisely. “I didn’t say I wanted to drink it. but you just volunteered yourself, Adam.”
Monica gave Adam her water bottle and told him to fill it to the top. I wanted a job, too, so she assigned me to hold the rope that was attached to the inner tube. Adam got the water and we hauled him back up.
“Give me the bottle, Adam. Now hold out your hands, like this.” She showed him how to cup his hands so that when she poured water into them, it wouldn’t run out. Adam and I looked at our sister expectantly, waiting for whatever she was going to show us. “Now, look.”
We peered into the water in Adam’s hands. Shining brightly was the moon. “Oh, wow, Monica!” we crooned.
“Give me some moonshine too, Monica! Please oh please!” I tugged on her pant leg.
“Hold still. There we go. can you see it, now?” I squealed with delight.
“This is what God must feel like, right Monica?” Adam asked. “God can hold the real moon in his hands without dropping it.”
Monica ruffled our hair. “You’re right, Adam. He can hold the entire universe in his hands without dropping it.”
Smile around the pain. With shaking fingers, I scooped water into my hands, and I was seven again. but my bed beckoned me to abandon my stretches for warm comfort. I curled into a ball and stared out the balcony window. It started to rain. Could nothing ever be normal? The sky opened up and it really started to pour. My eyelids fluttered, but I caught a movement at the window. It was gone before I could make it out. I guess it hadn’t really been there. The rain kept falling, and the thunder rolled on.
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