Omnia I

Leo, a fire sign. The sun, my ruling planet. Gold, my color of choice. A warrior. I am entity wrapped around in the eternal flames of passion. I mustn’t yield and wait for my dreams to find me. I must chase them. I lit that fire.

The water that washed me away did not defeat me. I was successful. From those damp and darkened ashes that remained a single ember was still burning. Without hesitation that ember will soon rise. As it emerges from its cage like a phoenix from the ashes the whole world will turn away, for their eyes cannot handle such a light.

I retrieved the correct files. My contract was signed and my internship was secure. I had what I needed. The data entry office was temporarily closed due to the water damage I had caused. The video footage for the entire building had “glitched out,” according to the police, and it had been ruled a false alarm. I was in the clear and I didn’t have to attend that stupid job anymore. I wasn’t going to go back. I gave Jessica my two weeks notice via email and I assumed the office wouldn’t reopen since it’s been closed for an entire week.

All I had to do was keep my head down so I didn’t arouse any suspicion. The only regret I had was that I couldn’t rub it in Alicia’s face right away. Maybe by then things would change and we would be friends again. Maybe I would no longer be angry about the whole situation. Maybe these thoughts of rubbing it in her face wouldn’t enter my mind anymore. Underneath I knew I was still feeling the pain of losing a friendship, but I had to push the thoughts down. I knew I’d see her at the August White Party. I was going with Kirsten and Dylan so I assumed that they jettisoned Alicia.

“Massie, you have a package!” my mother shouted.

“Coming!” I grabbed my robe and headed down the stairs. It must be my amazon order.

“Here,” my mom handed me the package as I reached the bottom of the stairs.

“Dinner will be ready in 30,” she said.

“Awesome,” I turned around and whipped back up the stairs. Setting my package down on my desk I realized how light it was. I sat down in my chair, examining the package. The return address was my address which was a huge red flag. In this moment I was unsure weather or not to open it or bring it to my parents. I grabbed my scissors, carefully undoing the packing tape. Opening the box I held my head away and through squinted eyes I could see it was only a sheet of paper.

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Quarry II

Three data files. The future on my internship at Exude was reliant on retrieving three data files from Jessica’s computer. Between what Evelyn Bellamy has told me and my own detective work, I’ve determined that Exude Inc. is much larger than it appears. It’s really one small piece among many others, not all of which pertain to fashion. This discovery explains why the office building is huge while Exude only occupies a few floors. Evelyn Bellamy must not have access to certain files because she only directs the styling department. I did wonder why she needed files on Jessica’s computer specifically or how she even knew they would be there, but I figured it was better to ask less questions while completely my mission.

The problem with Jessica is that one, she almost never left her desk, and two, her office was right near the entrance meaning someone would definitely see me. The only comfort I had was knowing Evelyn had connections in the security room and was going to make sure any footage capturing me on Jessica’s computer was lost. But despite that, getting these files felt impossible. I was sure somebody would see me. The worst part was the one-week deadline Evelyn gave me. I had to act quickly meaning I have a greater chance of making a sloppy mistake. “Data theft prison time” I googled on my phone.

“What are you up to?” Gen startled me. I jumped.

“Jesus Gen,” I said, “don’t sneak up on me like that.”

“What’s up with you?” Gen asked.

“Besides being stuck in a boring job and not having an outfit for the August White Party?” I replied.

“Is that why you’ve been so distant and jumpy? Also, ugh, I can’t believe you’re going to that stupid theme party” she replied.

I rolled my eyes, “I have a lot on my mind, and it’s my first time being invited. It’s a big deal. Everyone who matters in socialite society will be there.”

“Still lame,” she sat down in her chair and turned back to her computer screen.

As soon as she turned away I immersed myself back into my scheming. I’d already observed that Jessica generally eats lunch at her desk, rarely goes to bathroom, and usually has employees come to her rather than walk over to their desks. In this moment I almost wished she was still trashing Gen’s lunch. If I had figured it out first then I could’ve tipped Gen off and hopped on the computer while they were having a confrontation.

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Quarry I

 It was just five days ago Alicia and I had fallen out. And this time was for real. At least it felt real. I ended up breaking the news to Dylan and Kristen over Skype, but I couldn’t tell Claire yet. She was too happy in Florida. I’m sure the news would reach her somehow but I was bowing out. In a surprising turn of events, Dylan and Kristen pulled through for me. I don’t know if they were mad at Alicia or what, but they were definitely not shy about continuing our friendship. We had our pool get-together, minus Gen who didn’t show, and hung out twice more in the past week. It was like the old times that I so desperately missed but without petty Alpha-Beta tension. We didn’t even talk about what happened when we hung out. It was bliss.

“Ahhh” I pulled my french-manicured fingertips off the keyboard and leaned back into my chair.

“Finished already?” Gen asked.

“Yup,” I replied.

“You’ve been working quickly the last couple days,” Gen said.

“I feel great,” I said.

“Even after all that Alicia bullshit?” she replied.

“Yeah, everything didn’t fall apart like I thought it would,” I said.

“I think you meant to say like it did last time,” she replied.

“I never told about that,” I said.

“You’ve alluded to it,” she replied smugly.

I licked my lips nervously.

“Fine, yes, it has happened before,” I sighed, “but nothing was as bad as last year.”

“What happened?” she said.

“I messed up, that’s what happened.”

“Mass, don’t mention it if you’re not going to tell the whole story. You know I’m going to ask questions. Deets please.”

“The past school-year my boyfriend tried to cheat on me with Alicia. I caught him kissing her and I thought it was mutual. And I tried to get her expelled.” I revealed.

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Underneath II

July 29th, 2016 – cont. 

Ping!

The doors opened on to the main floor. It was also the reception area to the fashion/styling floor. And that’s when my life changed.

“Alicia,” I said. There she was. My so-called best friend. She was waiting for an elevator with another intern, but that’s not what ticked me off.

“Massie, what are you doing up here?” she replied.

“I don’t know, why are you with two of the clients I tried to book for the August White Party? You know, the ones who were called and told I didn’t work here?”

“Pause,” said the other intern, “these are our clients now and you need to move.”

She shoved passed me and told the clients to come with her onto the elevator. The clients awkwardly walked passed us. Alicia stayed behind.

“Come on Alicia,” the intern demanded. Alicia’s eyes darted between the elevator and me.

“I’m sorry I have to go, talk later, please?” Alicia begged. Before I could reply she rushed into the elevator. I turned around, to catcha guilty-looking Alicia staring at me as the door closed.

“What just happened?” Gen said.

“I don’t know,” I replied.

“You still want to get coffee?” she asked.

“Yeah, let’s get the hell out of here,” I replied.

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Underneath I

July 28th, 2016 – cont. 

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Damn.

We sat at our cubicle for a little over an hour in silence. Gen was outsmarted. I just couldn’t figure out how or why. It would be one thing to steal someone’s lunch and eat it, but to throw it out? That’s personal. It made me wonder if her lunch has been thrown out this entire time. And it’s not even about the lunch, it’s about Gen. Whoever is doing this has a vendetta and they expressing it in a petty but obnoxious way. I thought things were different but I was so naive. It doesn’t matter where I go because people will be people, and people are self-serving, rude, petty, and vindictive. I’ve got to get out of this stupid job. If I have to deal with horrible people I should at least have a job I love.

But what am I supposed to do? It’s hard to get an internship in the fashion world. There’s also no way I could find something this late in summer. Do I have to stick it out in data entry? I’ve already established that’s a bad idea, but leaving would make me look like I’m ungrateful. I wish I knew who got me fired or if there was any way to get my intern position back. Considering the company is scrambling for the August White Party, maybe if they lose an intern at an inconvenient time they’d need me to step in. But even if that could work, I’d have to know who got me fired and I’d need some strong evidence.

“That’s it!” I exclaimed. I swiveled around to face Gen.

“What?” she said.

“We’ve been looking at this the wrong way. For one, there’s no way to know if they’ve thrown out your lunch this whole time,” I said.

“Valid,” she replied, “that did cross my mind.”

“And two, evidence should come before justice. We need proof and I have a solution,” I replied.

Gen rested her head on her hand and leaned towards me, “I’m listening.”

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Adjustment II

July 27th, 2016 – cont. 

Gen slammed the door shut, squinting her eyes at Jessica as she left. It was like she was trying to throw daggers at Jessica with her mind. I stood there awkwardly, thrown in the mix.

“So, stake-out?” I offered, trying to cut the tension.

Gen’s face instantly changed from angry to amused, “oh, we’re going to catch this bitch and I already have a plan. It’s pretty simple. I’m going to have wings tomorrow. I’ll douse my wings in capsaicin hot sauce and then dust it with chili powder,” Gen said.

“What,” I replied, “what is capsaicin?”

“The hottest hot sauce,” she replied, “it’s hotter than ghost peppers. And it’s odorless. They won’t see it coming, er, smell it coming.”

“Don’t you think that a little…extreme?” I replied.

“Mass, lunch-stealers are right up there with car thieves and bank robbers. It’s the most passive-aggressive way to say ‘I don’t respect other people’s property!'”

“What if they puke or like, die?” I replied.

Gen sighed, “they probably won’t get past the first few bites. Besides, I don’t like when people mess with me. What do you do when people step on your toes?”

I shut my mouth. I’m really not one to talk, but then I remembered we are trying to find out who the thief is not set their mouth on fire.

“Wait,” I said, “but how is this going to help you find out who is stealing your lunch?”

“Did we not just have this conversation a minute ago? Get back to work!” Jessica reappeared out of nowhere.

“I’m on my ten-minute, boss,” Gen replied.

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Adjustment I

July 13th, 2016

After a nice warm shower I sat down at my desk, getting ready to update In Vogue. As I was finishing up I got a new message on AIM. Plenty of people have abandoned AIM but I can’t bear to part with my nostalgia. It was Alicia.

HolaGurrl: is it tru? data entry lol

MassieKur: where have u been!?

HolaGurrl: phone died + sooooooo busy sorry

MassieKur: some1 set me up! need u 2 help me find out who

HolaGurrl: how do u know?

MassieKur: some1 literally called my clients and said I didn’t work there

HolaGurrl: oh shit! did u tell EB that?

MassieKur: she knew, fired me anyway 🙂 I love life

HolaGurrl: 😦 ill b lonely now. im on it!

MassieKur: keep me updated – theyre going down!

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Shift II

July 13th, 2016

As I exited Evelyn Bellamy’s office, I looked around for Leesh but she had disappeared. Luckily, as I took my walk of shame the other interns were too busy to gawk at me. Only a few side glances and sly smiles breached my bubble. I wanted to look for Leesh but considering I almost got fired I didn’t want to be seen wasting time. As I stepped into the elevator my mind was immediately whisked away as reality gripped me. I was set up. I lost my intern position. I agreed to work in data entry because I didn’t want to lose all my footing in this company. I was angry, and all that in-the-moment zen bullshit was wearing off. My queen-bee urges were kicking back in. I had to find out who did this, if not to get revenge, I should at least know who is out to get me. That’s reasonable, right? I nodded to myself.

Ding!

This was the floor. There were several gray hallways leading off the different offices. I stopped to look for the data entry office on the map, and it pointed me down an unimpressive hallway with linoleum floors.

heelswalkheelswalkheelswalk

Click click click. 

My heels echoed loudly as I shuffled down the hall. As a women of the upper society, the sound of heels clicking against the floor was something I was accustomed to. But for some reason I felt uncomfortable. It wasn’t particularly quiet as I could hear papers shuffling, phones ringing, and the hum of voices. But it wasn’t the same. The buzz of people hustling around mixed with catty conversations, side-eyes, and noses in the air was gone.

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Shift I

“The phoenix must burn to emerge.”  – Janet Fitch


July 13th, 2016

Bzzt! Bzzt! Bzzt! I unlatched my Chanel boy bag, whipping out my iPhone. An unhealthy level of dread filled my body. Seeing the number on the screen, I knew it was a client I had booked for the August White Party. My fate was sealed.

“Hello,” I said.

“Hi, this is Massie right?” The voice said.

“This is she,” I replied.

“Yes, I’m calling on behalf of Irina Price. Unfortunately, she already has a stylist for the White Party.” the voice replied.

“Thanks for letting me know,” I choked.

“Have a nice day,” the voice replied. I hung up the phone.

I paced in the break room back and forth, clicking my Louboutin heels on the cold, hard floor. I was trying to figure out exactly where my plan had all gone wrong. Somewhere between reaching out through my connections, getting people to let Exude style them for the White Party, and following through, everything went wrong. All of the clients I was trying to pull in either vanished, or backed out on me. Alicia, on the other hand, had drones of clients, and she was doing better than anybody else. I was trying not to be jealous, but the only person I had left was Dylan’s mother, which just wasn’t enough. As soon as I plopped down in a chair, one of Evelyn’s assistant, Vanessa, strolled into the break room.  My ponytail swung as I whipped my head around. I straightened my back, as to not appear lazy but attentive.

“There you are, intern,” she said sternly, “Evelyn needs to speak with you in her office immediately.” I paused for a moment, as I felt a wave of confusion wash over me. What?

“Well?” she said.

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Maturity II

July 8th, 2016

Intense: an understatement when describing Exude’s director, Evelyn Bellamy. She’s like a hundred thousand strings tightly woven together, each only relying on the next to stay in place. When all these strings come together they form a dazzling design, so beautiful nobody can look away. But this comes at a cost, because she can’t do everything by herself. All it takes if for one string to be pulled too tight, or left too lose, and the design will unravel. As an intern, it’s an amazing oppertunity to be one of these strings, but the pressure is insane. On top of this immense pressure, Alicia and I were surprised to find out that not only were we both hired as interns, so were fifteen other girls, and within the first two days, five were booted. I knew the fashion industry was intense, but Exude Inc. had apparently decided it was going to drive out as many aspiring girls, as quickly as possible. I wasn’t exactly sure why Exude chose to run an intern bootcamp, but I didn’t have much time to ponder.

The office was immensely cramped, with interns dashing in and out on coffee runs, dog walks, dry cleaning pickups, organizing files, moving boxes of clutter, carrying garment bags, and tedious data entry. All in the meantime, the hired staff got to sit back and watch as the interns struggled with their jobs. I had my fair share on menial tasks to accomplish, but I kept telling myself it would be worth it. And I definitely didn’t want to feel the full force of Evelyn Bellamy’s ire. On the plus side, because of the amount of work needed to get done, Alicia and I found it better to work with each other, rather than against each other. Pretty soon it was obvious we were outperforming everyone else, and even that wasn’t impressive enough for Evelyn Bellamy.

“Interns!” Evelyn’s assistant bellowed, “Gather…now!”

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