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Nov. 6th, 2016 02:05 pm
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
"I work for mine too! I act and introduce people who can help each other. You'll see," she told Sadie. "In a month you'll be making clothes for people. I promise."

Sadie decided to take her at her word. Gigi was very convinced of the power of her own will, and if she said Sadie would be making a living designing her own clothes for sale in a month, then by god she would be.

After work she shared Victor's dress-shopping advice and opinions with Rose and Ida, and by the end of the evening they'd had a quick dinner, seen a John Barrymore picture, and most importantly, had acquired a pretty pink dress so Rose could make a good impression on the law partner she was after. She'd borrow a shawl from Frances and a pair of silver-gray shoes from her sister, and she already had white gloves and a white hat and an appropriately decorative beaded purse, into which she could fit her compact, her room key, and a dollar in case she needed it.

The dress was a little more expensive than Rose had planned for, but Ida and Sadie both told her a good first impression was important, the dress could be worn for many other occasions, and this was New York and clothes were going to be more expensive than they had been at home.

She was unbearable Thursday morning and even worse Thursday at lunch, when she and Ida and Sadie met at the Automat for sandwiches and coffee.

“He's acting as if nothing is going on,” she complained, smearing ketchup on her roast beef. “As if he's not taking me out in seven hours.”

“Do you want him to tell the entire firm that he's dating the secretary?” Ida asked.


“Wait until tomorrow morning and see how he treats you then. His whole attitude will be different. He'll be friendlier.”

“He's already friendly.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Rose,” Sadie said, “he has work to do. He can't be hanging over your desk all day making eyes at you.”

“That's mean,” Rose pouted. “I don't want him hanging over my desk. I just want to know he's excited to take me out tonight.”

“He is.”

“How do you know?”

“Because if he wasn't, he wouldn't have asked you in the first place. He'll be more excited when he sees you in your new dress.” She bit into her meatloaf sandwich with a definitive chomp.

“It's true,” Ida added. “He'll be bowled over.”

“You think so?” Rose asked.

“Yes,” Sadie and Ida said together. Sadie's insistence was somewhat diminished by the fact that she was still chewing, but Rose thankfully didn't notice.

Rose was a bundle of nerves as they helped her get ready for her date, but by the time Mr Rockland called at the front desk for her, she had calmed down. Ida and Sadie wished her well and then Sadie tld Ida she was meeting a friend and had to go.

“Is this the friend you met for dinner?” Ida asked, raising an eyebrow. “Are we ever going to get to meet this friend?”

“Of course. Her name is Gigi and I met her when I went to the Cotton Club with Frances and Emmy. Rose was sick, you didn't go. I told you that.”

“Well, have fun. Don't be back too late.” Ida still looked dubious, but whether that was because she didn't believe Sadie or because she didn't trust Gigi, Sadie couldn't tell. What was to doubt? Did Ida think she was seeing a man and not telling them? How silly. Sadie wasn't Rose – she wasn't here to catch a husband. She was here to enjoy her youth and start a business and take advantage of living in a big city with more opportunities and more freedom than she'd have at home.

She wrote home frequently, keeping her parents up to date on her life and and reassuring them that she hadn't fallen into disrepute or met any unsuitable people or done anything that would embarrass them or shame her. She'd told them about Gigi, carefully skimming over the specific circumstances of their meeting, and she'd told them about Frances and Emmy and the men she worked for. She told them a little about Rose and Ida, although she knew the twins were keeping in touch with their own family and anything they told their mother, her own mother would find out. The Grabels and the Teitelbaums belonged to the same synagogue and the mothers belonged to the same sisterhood organization, and mothers gossiped about their children at every opportunity.

She wondered if Rose had told her mother and sisters about Mr Rockland, and if she had, what had she said. She imagined that after tonight Rose would have a lot more to say.

Sadie hoped the date went well, for Rose's sake if for no other reason. She also hoped Mr Rockland could figure out that he'd have to do all the chasing and that Rose's interest in him would be pretty subtle. This was the big city and it was a new era and women were more allowed to be aggressive, but Rose was still in some ways an old world girl and she'd been raised to let the man take the initiative.

But Sadie had also been raised that way, and she was sure that if there was a man she was interested in, she'd be able to let him know in more ways than just batting her eyelashes at him. She wasn't sure she was prepared to ask him out, but if she ever met someone, she'd find out.

These thoughts took her back to the Village and to Gigi's apartment building, which was a bit of a walk. Gigi lived on the first floor, but the first floor was four steps up from the street, so she could open the windows and lean out without risk of being at eye level with anyone walking on the sidewalk. There was also a basement apartment, with stairs leading down behind an iron railing.

There were surprisingly three people standing on the stoop – two women and a man. The man was in his shirtsleeves and one of the women was wearing a painting smock, and the second woman was of course Gigi.

“Sadie!” she cried, jumping down the steps, grabbing Sadie's hands, and pulling her up the stoop. “This is Alistair and Addy. Alistair is a playwright – he wrote the play I'm in. Addy's a painter.” She turned to the couple. “This is Sadie. She's going to live with me when Pamela moves out.”

“And not a minute too soon,” Alistair muttered. He held out his hand and when Sadie took it, he brought her hand up to his lips. Addy snickered. “A pleasure to make your acquaintence, Miss Sadie.” He had a clipped way of speaking, sounding almost English. Sadie wondered where he was really from.

“It's nice to meet you,” Addy said. “You're not an actress too, are you?”

“Oh, no,” Sadie said. “Not since Sunday School.” She'd played Esther in the Purim play when she was fourteen, and halfway through the performance she'd forgotten her lines. The boy playing Mordechai had to hiss them in her direction, loud enough for the entire auditorium to hear, and while half the audience dissolved into laughter when Mordechai repeated her lines for her in a more normal tone of voice, Sadie's mother shrank in her chair and Sadie herself tried to fall through the floor.

She had a good singing voice, and she'd had solos in her high school choir, but she wasn't in a hurry to get on a stage again and act.

“Sadie's a dressmaker,” Gigi said. “I'm going to help her open a shop.”

“Really,” Addy said. “I've been experimenting with painting fabrics. Maybe we can collaborate.”

“I'd like that,” Sadie told her.

“Pamela's an actress, that's why I asked. She's always on stage.” Addy's tone made it clear that this wasn't her favorite aspect of Pamela's personality.

“Why is she moving out?”

“She met someone,” Gigi said. “She's moving in with him and his girlfriend. I predict it will end in tears, but things with Pamela usually do.”

“She's moving in with someone who already has a girlfriend?” Sadie asked. Of course that would end in tears – he was already with someone else. No man asked a woman to move in with him unless he was making a commitment to her, and if he had already committed to someone else, what was the new woman going to do? Was he moving Pamela in as his mistress?

“It happens.” Alistair shrugged. “This is why I live alone.”

“He has a tiny flat,” Gigi clarified for Sadie. “He has to live alone.” But she was grinning at Alistair to show she meant no offense.

“It's true.” He shrugged again. “I need peace and quiet to work.”

“Which is why you always see him at the coffeehouse in Sheridan Square.” She winked but Alistair only shrugged again.

“People-watching is good for the work. So is coffee. I should get back to it, in fact. I expect I'll be seeing a lot of you now,” he said to Sadie. “Gigi is a lovely girl. You'll like living with her.” He kissed her hand again and went inside the building.

“Be careful of him,” Addy told Sadie, “or you'll end up in one of his plays. I hear he's starting to write short stories now. Poetry is probably next.”

“No doubt,” Gigi said, and then she turned to Sadie. “Should we go in? Pamela tidied up so you can see her room.”

The apartment was small but brightly painted, with a parlor overlooking the street, a small bathroom that nevertheless managed to fit a tub in with the sink and toilet, a kitchen with a new-looking white enamel stove, two bedrooms (the smaller one was clearly Pamela's), a dining room, and a door out to a tiny back deck with stairs down to the garden.

“Technically the garden belongs to the building,” Gigi said, “but in practical terms the only people who really use it are myself and the couple who lives in the basement. They have a little girl and a tiny dog who like to play back here. The tiny dog is named Oscar, so if you ever hear anyone yell 'Oscar! Shut your mouth!' they're talking to the dog. He can be very yappy.”

They went down the back stairs and sat in the white-painted wrought iron chairs on the grass.

“What do you think?” Gigi asked. “The stove is new. I own the place, so we can't be kicked out if the landlord decides to raise the rent. Alistair lives on the top floor in a garret, like every self-respecting bohemian writer should, but Addy is only visiting. Her partner is on the third floor, in an apartment that's mostly studio and only partly living quarters, so Addy comes here to paint. There are three of them in the collective – Addy, her partner Marianna, and a crazy girl called Iris, who works entirely in pastels. Her work is very bright and futurist and she is a terrifying driver. Do not ever let her drive you anywhere.”

“I won't. Do you drive?”

“I do! I'm a very good driver. I sold my car, though. I'd wrecked it twice and my father was tired of paying mechanics to fix it.” Sadie's bafflement must have shown on her face, because Gigi clarified “I'm a very good driver when I haven't been drinking. Unfortunately I like to drive when I'm off my face. Don't ever let Alistair drive you anywhere either, because he can't drive. He'll borrow his brother's car – his brother lives in the Bronx – and drive people around in it to scare them. You'll think he has a very subdued personality from meeting him today, but let me assure you, he has a provocative streak. You'll see it in his work. Oh, my play opens in a week – three one-act plays, Alistair's is the last one – I'l get you a ticket for opening night. Come as Victor's date. He'll need someone to rant at when the show is over.” She grinned.

“Is it that bad?”

“Oh, no, it's very good. But they're very avant-garde plays, and Alistair is currently completely obsessed with outsider experiences and surreal metaphors. Victor likes his theater to be more straightforward. You'll find the costumes very interesting. They're very structured.”

“Do you need a wardrobe mistress? For future productions, I mean.”

“We might. I can ask. Do you think you want to make costumes?”

“I don't know. Right now I want to do everything.” It was why she came to New York in the first place, and to a lesser extent it was why she was here right now, sitting in Gigi's back garden behind her flat in Greenwich Village, sitting in the flickering light of a string of electric bulbs.

Gigi beamed. “That's why I love you, Sadie. Your desires are huge.”

“They're not – well, maybe they are. If my French was better and I had the money, I would have gone to Paris instead of coming here. I don't think my parents would have let me – they don't know anyone in Paris but my mother has a cousin in Brooklyn – but I would have gone anyway.”

“You want everything and you're not afraid of it,” Gigi went on. “You're a modern girl. And you're beautiful and sweet and everything is new to you. You're not cynical. I love Alistair but he can be cynical, and I love Victor but he can be too. Oh, how did your friend's shopping trip go? Didn't I tell you Victor's advice was good?”

“It was! We found a dress at Macy's. It was a little more than Rose wanted to spend, but her sister and I convinced her that it was worth it. I saw her off before I came over. She was all nerves right up until her date called for her, and then she was calm and self-possessed. I hope it went well.”

“I'm sure it did. I'm glad we could help.”

“You've been amazing. I can't wait to move in. Rose and Ida are going to give me grief, and my parents will probably be scandalized, but - “

“It's your life,” Gigi interrupted.

“Yes.” Sadie smiled at her understanding. “It is very much my life, and this is what I want to do with it.”

“There's no lease, because I own the place. Next weekend, Saturday morning, bring your things over. I want to clean a little after Pamela leaves, and I expect she'll throw a good-bye party, even though she's only moving over to Sixth Avenue, and we'll all need some time to recover from that. But Saturday night I'll have a little get-together, a little dinner party, just to welcome you to the neighborhood. Bring your friends. I can take two more. How does that sound?”

“It sounds perfect.” Sadie stood. She should get back to the residential hotel. It wasn't late enough for her to have to worry about making curfew, but she needed to tell Ida, and Rose if she was back yet, what her plans were. They'd need some time to adjust before she moved downtown and out of their immediate sphere.

Gigi showed her out. They met Addy coming down the stairs, now without her smock and with another girl.

“This is Marianna,” Addy said, introducing the other girl, who was dressed in red and had black hair in an unfashionable braid coiled around her head. “We paint together. We're going to get something to drink. Do you want to come? We need a break.”

“I have to go,” Sadie said, “but thank you. I'm moving in next Saturday. I'll see you then.”

“We'll come down and say hi,” Marianna said.

Marianna and Addy went down the front stairs and down the street. Gigi kissed Sadie on both cheeks and said “Come out with me Saturday night. I'll come get you at your residential hotel at nine and we'll go for a late dinner and then dancing. You should start to get to know your new neighborhood. There are some wonderful jazz clubs around here. Oh, we'll go to the Pepper Pot! Since you've eaten there you should now see their dance floors. I'll bring Victor, you can bring your friends. Ida and Rose, right? It will be fun.”

words: 2793
total words: 11,872
note: gigi's apartment is vaguely based on this place, with the assumption that the unit goes all the way through to the back.


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