Plum

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14.

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She stared at her friend’s text on her phone. She was not a friend but rather a classmate who was forcing her friendship on Plum.

Jessica: Hey! Plummy bear! I am going to this really cool club tonight and I was thinking if you could come along! We will have so much fun! I will drop you home by 2 or 3 in the night.

Plum’s eyes widened when she read the time. She was about to text her back when Arsenio San walked out of the dressing room. He looked ready for his travel tonight. Her mood immediately became morose.

“Baby, I can’t take you there, I will be on site and would barely return to the hotel. You have to stay alone sweetheart,” he reasoned with her.

Plum’s eyes watered but she nodded; she had to be strong enough to stay without him. He had work and he had to look after those commitments as well. Tomorrow he too would understand her commitments when she would travel for her work.

She was thankful that Hector was accompanying Arsenio.

“That’s my girl,” he said and kissed her forehead, “I will be back as soon as possible.”

She nodded and kissed his cheek; she climbed down from the bed and accompanied him to his car. The least she could do was accompany him to the car.

“You don’t have to worry about the media and those pictures. My PR team has released a statement taking care of everything,” he said and climbed his car. Hector was already sitting inside; he nodded at her and turned away.

Hector had been very cordial to say the least, since the last night. She saw the car drive away and her mood dimmed to say the least. She walked inside and towards their office. She had to take her mind off from the emptiness and also the fear that she had to sleep in this creaking and whining house through the night.

She walked inside her office and picked her sketches. She was designing her pieces for her new winter collection. She saw a few invitations on her table and frowned. She opened them and her eyes widened in delight. These were invitations from different fashion houses who had invited her to their shows during the various fashion weeks. She was so lucky! She had never witnessed a live fashion show.

Her friend Jessica on the other hand was called to all fashion shows, she had a successful fashion blog, was a top social media influencer and all of this had already paved a career for her. She had bagged an internship with Maison Valentino this year and had done a summer internship with Bottega last summer. Her career was all set and she was well deserving of it. Jessica came from nothing but had used her hard work and talent and social skills to perform and compete in life. She even had column in the Vogue magazine. At such a young age, coming from extreme poverty she had already made a name for herself and lived debt free and in the upper west side of Manhattan. Jessica was an inspiration and it wouldn’t be surprising if she saw House of Jessica soon while she, Plum, struggled to say a few words.

Plum gulped back the humiliation and her incompetency and focussed on her design. Jessica was genuine and on more than one occasion she had critiqued Plum’s collection, despite Plum’s refusal. Plum new Jessica wanted to be her friend but she didn’t. She was too jealous of the girl to be her friend.

Jessica: Hey! So what say? Will you be coming? I will pick and drop you.

Plum gulped, she could see her failed career in front of her eyes, and maybe she could learn a thing or two from Jessica. And maybe if she went then she would spend slightly less time at the house alone.

Plum: Thank you Ms Jessica. I will definitely come with you. My address: 879, Fifth avenue. (A/N: I totally made that address up. I know there is a fifth avenue but not sure if that particular house no. exists.)

Jessica: Sweet! I will be there at ten!

Plum gulped, ten was so late!

She got back to her work.

***

She stared at her reflection in the mirror. She was wearing a short sequin dress and some simple blush pink pumps. She had straightened her hair and painted her lips a loud and vivacious red. She had done some smoky eye makeup and she looked a couple of years mature than her twenty. Jessica had said that since they weren’t twenty one yet, they had to act a bit older. Jessica also had connections inside who would let her.

Plum stared at her watch and gulped, it was ten fifteen and she was not here. Plum picked her purse and hung it over her shoulder after wearing her overcoat. She took the elevator and walked in the foyer. A few minutes later the bell rang and Plum quickly opened the door. It was freezing cold tonight.

What day was it?

Jessica stood at her door; she was so tall and had a model figure. She smiled at Plum and Plum returned the gesture.

“Let’s go! This New Year’s Party is going to be a rager!” Jessica squealed.

Plum’s eyes widened, it was thirty first of December already! She felt sadder, she wanted to spend her New Year’s with Arsenio San but he was busy with his work. She shook her head and followed Jessica in her car.

Jessica began driving.

“I am so glad you decided to come! I really needed a friend!” Jessica said.

Plum frowned; she was not Jessica’s friend. And why would she call her? Didn’t she have an army of friends? Her squad, they would kill for this opportunity.

“I know what you must be thinking! I actually don’t have any true friends! They are just behind what I have built for myself! You on the other hand have been very genuine and down to Earth,” Jessica said as she drove.

Plum turned to her.

“When I first joined Parsons, I had nothing, I was working as a waitress in a seedy bar and didn’t have any money on me. I remember it was someday in the first week of our classes and you had let me borrow your tools when I didn’t have the money to buy my own, no one has ever done that for me,” Jessica said, “and you even bought me a complete set of tools.”

Plum blushed, she had done that, she didn’t know what to do but Jessica didn’t have anything on her except a very broken sewing machine and sparse tools. She didn’t even have a proper sketch pad. Plum had spent an entire evening buying a variety of tools for her; she had even insisted her uncle to give Jessica a job at one of the higher end restaurants. She didn’t know why she did that. Maybe because she didn’t want paucity of money to stand in the way of her dreams, so that she could focus on her dreams and live a privileged life.

But Plum didn’t like being reminded of it, Jessica shouldn’t owe her a friendship just because she had helped her. Plum believed in helping, she never believed in competing. And she was happy she helped Jessica, because the girl had talent and had used all the available resources effectively.

“Here we are,” Jessica said and parked at the back end of the club. She turned to Plum and laughed at her quizzical expression.

“You don’t want to be in an hour long line, do you?” Jessica said. Plum shook her head and stepped out of the car. She removed her coat and placed it in the car and walked to Jessica.

“Sexy dress Gummy Plummy bear, didn’t know you had it in you!” Jessica winked.

Plum giggled and walked inside.

Her mouth dropped in awe, neon lights were everywhere and loud music was playing. Plum clasped her hands and grinned. The energy was palpable and everyone was dancing to the music. Jessica pulled her to the bar and grinned at her.

“Do you have a choice or should I order?” Jessica screamed over the music.

Plum shrugged and Jessica turned to the bar tender.

“We will have a Sea Breeze and an Agent Orange,” Jessica yelled.

A while later they were sitting in the VIP area with their drinks in hand. Plum knew there was vodka in the drink but she loved it with the cranberry and grapefruit juice. She shuffled closer to Jessica when a few men leered at her, one even winked at her.

“Don’t look at them,” Jessica said to her. Plum nodded; she took a nice sip of her refreshing drink. Why had Arsenio San given her bitter wine drinks when he could’ve have given her this fruity cocktail? She shook her head; Arsenio San had a mind of his own.

“So I heard about the marriage. I didn’t know you were dating someone,” Jessica wriggled her eyebrows.

Plum blushed and lightly punched Jessica’s shoulder. Jessica grinned and shook her head.

“What are you doing this winter?” Jessica asked.

Plum shook her head.

Jessica bit her lip.

“You know I have been thinking something… Why don’t we design our next collection together?” Jessica asked, “you know like establish House of Plum and Jessica?”

Plum’s eyes widened and she stared at Jessica.

“Take your time but not a lot, we have an entire month of holiday and we can brainstorm quite some stuff,” Jessica said.

Plum nodded.

“Text me when you have an answer,” Jessica said.

***

“Bye,” Jessica whispered and hurtled away.

Plum entered the house and hiccupped, she had a Sea Breeze, My Fair Lady and a Havana Cooler, they were such fun drinks! And they danced so much and the New Year’s countdown was crazy, since they didn’t have anyone to kiss, Jessica had kissed her on the cheek and Plum had just blushed. She had felt a bit loosened up after the drinks and had danced like a crazy animal. She felt so free, she hiccupped again and walked inside.

She stopped in her tracks when she realised she had forgot her coat in Jessica’s car. She sighed and shook her head. She started to walk to the elevator when she saw the lights of the living room switched on. Plum frowned and wobbled to the living room.

What she saw made the colour drain from her face.

A very angry Arsenio San was staring at her. His eyes were wide and his lips in a straight line.

Plum hiccupped.

***

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