“I thought driving you to and from here was part of the deal. Not helping you set up the place.” I complained as I set down one of the boxes with the equipment.
By the time we had arrived, the stylists were already at the place where the shoot was being held, but there was no sign of Maren’s boss/mentor, Matthew. Normally, he would already be there about an hour or so before us, depending on his work schedule, but apparently Maren got a text from him saying that he was arriving a bit late and asked her to set up the place whilst he was on his way. That, unfortunately meant that I was forced to help her.
“Okay first off,” she said looking at me. “all you’re doing is just unloading the boxes while I set up the equipment until Matt comes. Last thing we both need is you breaking something like last time.”
“At least I replaced it.” I pouted.
“Second, you’re helping either way because there ain’t no way I’m doing all the work by myself when there’s an extra pair of hands at my disposal,” she told me. “you can always gawk at Jungkook’s abs later, you thirsty ho.”
I felt my cheeks flush with embarrassment. “It’s for sketch references!” I exclaimed defensively.
“Your browsing history says otherwise, Honey Bee. Not to forget all the Jungkook pictures in your gallery and the Jungkook fanfiction in your Wattpad library.”
Not to self: make sure to install an app lock or change my passcode if Maren ever decides to snoop through my phone and violate my privacy. “How long ’til he gets here?” I asked.
“Hey! Sorry I’m late.”
We turned our gaze to the dark haired man who had just made his entrance into the scene. “Hey, Matt,” Maren greeted him with a smile. “you’re not really late though, since we got here about thirty minutes ago. I brought my friend Beverley, if that’s okay with you.”
He turned his attention to me and said, “Hey.”
I responded with a curt nod and a small smile, acknowledging his greeting. “Is everyone ready for the shoot?” he turned his attention back to Maren. “Everyone is all set. Just need to finish off setting the equipment and wait for the makeup artist who was supposed to be here hours ago.” Maren rolled her eyes. “How Claire deals with such incompetent people is far beyond me, I can tell you that much.”
“Which makeup artist was assigned for this shoot?”
“Who do we know for being an entitled airhead and makes every Karen look like saints and comes to every shoot she’s assigned to whenever she feels like it?”
“Fucking Donna!” She confirmed. “Good thing we have a sub in case that bitch decides to bail. But I swear to gawd! If that Instagram ho decides to show up and throws a hissy fit about having a sub cover for her, I am not holding back on the insults. And she better not test me to clap her ass to the next century.”
Matthew gave me a look that said, ‘Who pissed in her tea?’ to which I responded with a sigh and said, “Bad day at school.”
“Anyway, mind telling me what got you late for work, boss?” she asked
In an instant, his expression faltered for a moment before quickly replacing it with a fake but yet forced smile on his face. “It’s nothing. Just work and other projects.” He assured her, though he sounded very dismissively and was avoiding the question.
“You sure, home boy?” Maren persisted. “I can just take over the shoot and tell Claire that you’re sick or something.”
Matthew responded with a ragged chuckle. “While I do appreciate the gesture, I can’t let you go through the shoot unsupervised knowing damn well that you’ll stir up trouble and chaos with the staff here.” He ruffled her hair.
“Hey!” she retaliated slapping his hand away and glared at him.
“Also, I need this job. I can’t afford to let my personal issues hold me back.”
Maren shot me a look. I raised my hands and said, “Don’t look at me. This is an A and B conversation and I’m C-ing my way out. Thank you very much.”
She sighed and turned her gaze back to her mentor. “Alright,” she relented. “let’s get this shit started before that Instagram ho shows up and ruins my mood. Oh! You’re free to thirst over Jungkook as you please, Bee.”
“Go fuck yourself, Maren.” I replied, flipping her off.
“Love you too, Honey Bee.” She blew me a kiss.
Maren sure as hell wasn’t kidding about not holding back on her insults.
Apparently, Donna had arrived about an hour into the shoot, and she wasn’t exactly pleased with the sub covering for her during her absence.
“You people should have had the decency to wait for me at least.” She yelled.
“Oh! I’m sorry. Your search for ‘give a fuck’ returned no results. Did you mean ‘Don’t give a fuck’.” Maren countered giving her sweetest sarcastic smile.
“Watch how you speak to me, bitch.” She sneered at her.
“Look, Donna,” Matthew sighed, clearly as annoyed and fed up with her as Maren. “You know that we work with a schedule. It’s your responsibility to notify us that you’re running late.”
“Which you didn’t, by the way.” Maren added.
“I already told you that I had a very important meeting that I couldn’t miss when I got here.”
“Sure. You taking selfies with your boyfriend in bed and posting them on Instagram seemed ‘very important’.” Maren air quoted as she rolled her eyes.
“Okay, you listen here,” Donna snapped pointing a finger at Maren. “I get paid more than you will ever get paid as an intern. Show some respect.”
“Well at least I show up on time and keep in touch with my superiors on my whereabouts boo.” Maren clapped back. “I could have been at home watching Chris Hemsworth flexing an axe in Avengers Endgame and look drop dead gorgeous doing it, but nope! Here I am dealing with your dumbass because I get paid to do so.
“And you’re over hear asking for respect like it’s free?! Gurl you wildin’.” Maren said. “Respect is a two way thing. Nobody cares about your fabulously high salary, so don’t you be coming at me about - ”
“Maren,” Matthew interrupted her. “I think that enough.” He looked at me. “Mind taking her while I handle things here?”
“Not at all. Babysitting her is kinda what I do.” I shrugged earning a glare from her. I rolled my eyes and grabbed her hand, taking her away.
“That was rather a bit unnecessary, don’t you think?” I said, raising an eyebrow.
Maren rolled her eyes and scoffed. “You thought that heifer was going to insult me and get away with it? You must be out of your damn mind.” She folded her arms to her chest. “Besides, she didn’t provoke me enough to want throw hands and drag her ass. But now that I think about it, the idea seems pretty tempting.”
“I’m kidding. Chill.” She laughed before giving me a mischievous grin. “Or am I?”
She laughed at my reaction as she bumped her shoulder against mine, to which I responded by rolled my eyes and sighed. I really need new friends, I thought to myself.
“Matt has been acting a little off today,” she said, suddenly changing the atmosphere. I glanced at her only to see an unreadable expression on her face.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He’s been acting a bit detached.” She told me.
I pursed my lips together and looked at the ground. Though I wasn’t really paying much attention to him, I did notice how withdrawn and detached he was throughout the whole shoot, as Maren pointed out. I didn’t know Matthew that well, nor did have a conversation that extended beyond greetings, but from what I’ve seen and observed from his interaction with the staff, models and Maren, he was always vibrant and filled with enthusiasm. He always knew how to turn a boring day at work into a bright day at the beach. And judging from his evasiveness when he dismissed Maren’s question earlier, it was a clear indication that something was up.
But what do I know? I didn’t know him well enough to make any kind of judgement towards him.
“It’s probably nothing, Mare,” I shrugged nonchalantly. “I’m sure whatever’s bothering him will come to pass and he’ll tell you eventually when he’s ready.”
Maren responded with a hum, pressing her lips together into a thin line. “Maybe so, but you know how I am when I pick up something wrong, right?” she said. “I can’t exactly brush it off that easily - especially when it’s probably something I feel I can help with.”
“And I keep telling your dumbass to stop getting paranoid over small things. Last thing you need is getting white hair and wrinkles at twenty-three.”
She shoved my shoulder and I laughed in response right when Matthew approached us. “Alrighty then. That wraps everything.” He said, raking his fingers through his dark curly hair.
“How did the talk with the Instagram ho go?” Maren asked.
“A lot better than how you handed it actually.”
“In my defence, she had it coming. I only clap back and throw insults when provoked - which she did, by the way.”
“You could have handled professionally, Maren. That’s all I’m saying.”
“Not my fault she can’t handle the smoke, Matthew.”
Matthew let out an exasperated sigh while rubbing his forehead and put his free hand on his hip. I shook my head feeling sorry for him. It takes an abundant supply of patience to deal with Maren’s stubbornness - and a lot to not hit her with a chair.
“Maren, while I do understand your intolerance towards nonsense from people, if you really want to be a good photographer, you need to learn to have patience and learn how to tolerate people,” he told her with seriousness in his tone. “I can give you a whole list of things you do that piss me off, but I look past all that because I’m patient with you.”
“Okay, I get that but - ”
“No buts,” his tone becomes firmer. “I don’t want to hear anymore excuses or any reasons to defend your behaviour today. Are we clear?”
Maren rolled her eyes and folded her arms to her chest. “Crystal,” she gave him her best sweet but sarcastic smile. “but I can’t promise not to drag a bitch if they test the wrath of God - just so you know.”
He let out an ‘I don’t get paid enough for this’ groan and rubbed his face.
“Hey, Matt,” she stopped him before he left. “you sure you’re okay?”
He gave her a genuine, though exhausted smile, and gave her a pat on the head. “I’m okay, Mari. Don’t worry about it.” He told her. “You should go home and rest.”
Maren continued staring at him dubiously, not buying his response completely. He chuckled before turning to me. “Please take her before she starts interrogating me.”
“Come on.” I grabbed her wrist and dragged her.
“See you in our next mentoring session, Matt!” she called.
“You too!” he called back.