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Nov. 16th, 2016 04:26 pm
smackenzie: (faye)
[personal profile] smackenzie
And so time passed. Sadie dutifully rode the subway to Brooklyn and back every day, hanging from a strap or accepting a seat like every other commuter. She hemmed pants and altered suit jackets and took in dresses and added panels so pregnant girls wouldn't have to buy new clothes. She sketched her own outfits and designed decorative patterns for fabric she didn't have, and she slowly collected ribbons and beads and buttons and hook-and-eye closures and zippers and bolts of fabric bought at cost. She found someone to teach her how to bead - through Mr Roskoff's cousin Irene, of all people - and managed to sell some of her dress patterns to customers at Mr Tartikoff's shop. She baked bread and cakes and made chicken soup and kneidlach like her grandmother had taught her, and when Carroll brought her and Gigi seven pounds of apples she cored them, cut them into pieces, and baked them down into applesauce.

The High Holy Days came and went, and she called home but her parents refused to talk to her. She still saw Rose and Ida, if infrequently, and she spent some time with her mother's cousin Lily who lived in Crown Heights. She occasionally let Mrs Tartikoff feed her (Mrs Tartikoff brought her husband a hot lunch every day at noon, and she must have missed mothering her own children, because she turned her attention to Sadie). She bought a Singer sewing machine on the installment plan, much to Gigi's delight, and had the delivery men install it in the parlor because there was more space there than in her room. She still occasionally covered the dining room table with paper patterns and bolts of fabric, but Gigi would drape them around herself and model for Sadie, and Sadie really enjoyed having a live model rather than just a dressmaker's dummy.

Julia Chase succeeded in putting together her theater collective. Gigi seemed to be enjoying the greater chance for collaboration, and it put less pressure on the playwrights. Roman's work was exceptionally conceptual, more idea than anything else - if he hadn't been part of the collective, and if Julia Chase hadn't been wealthy and determined to put on any play that interested her, whether it made money or not, a lot of his work would be unproduceable - he liked writing and directing but in many ways was more suited to acting - and Alistair, for all his attachment to modern poetry, had started writing very good realist plays about the working class, the poor artistic class, and anyone who lived on the fringes of what was considered acceptable society. Sadie was just glad there was a chance she'd be able to see something at Gigi's theater that actually made sense to her.

And she learned some things about herself. She'd been trying to train herself out of her provincialism and prudery, so as to better fit in with her bohemian friends, and when she didn't even bat an eye at someone's new living situation or new configuration of relationship or new artistic style, she knew she'd succeeded. She still hadn't come to understand (or like) most modern theater, but she liked modern dance, a lot of modern art, and of course modern music. She also didn't understand most modern poetry, much to Alistair and Roman's combined dismay, but if someone read it out loud, and she concentrated on the sound of their voice and the general images and impressions she got from the poem, she could enjoy it. She and Victor went ice skating when it got to be cold enough. She learned how to smoke. She let Carroll convince her to pose for him, twice - once dressed as a faintly ridiculous Orientalist fantasy, and once stark naked, so starkly lit that her skin looked like marble against the black drapes he used as a backdrop.

She slept with him after he developed the second set of photos, and when she told Gigi, Gigi kissed her on the cheek and welcomed her to the sisterhood of artistic models.

Sadie had also learned that she liked sex, although she didn't need it as much as she sometimes thought Gigi did. But aside from the one time with Carroll, she had no interest in anyone other than Alistair. She told Gigi about the first time (and the second), because she thought Gigi should know and because she wanted some advice and reassurance. Was it always like that? Would she be able to come? Did Gigi's lovers get her to climax? Gigi was full of helpful information, although a lot of it boiled down do "He needs to know what to do", but she had a couple of suggestions for things Sadie could say to Alistair, and a couple of things she could try, if she wanted to teach him how to get her off.

Sadie also knew she'd become more fully bohemian, and less the naive girl from a little town upstate, when Alistair wanted to move them into different sexual positions, and not only did she not protest or complain or balk, she agreed willingly and even asked Gigi if there was something else they could try.

She felt thoroughly modern - she made her own money, she drank, she smoked, she danced until the wee hours, and she was sleeping with a skinny goyische boy she had no intention of marrying.

She could never tell her parents, or her aunts, or her grandmother, or even her mother's cousin in Brooklyn. They could know about her job and her friends and her plans for her own shop, but they could never know about Alistair or Carroll or the nights that ran so late they became morning, or the fact that one night, Gigi brought someone home and woke her up, and Sadie was aroused enough by their noise that she threw on her dressing gown, climbed the stairs to the top floor, and woke Alistair up.

How much things have changed, she thought one late night in the middle of December - six months ago she was fresh off the train in Grand Central Station, with a room at a residential hotel and her secretarial qualifications in her hand, she'd been kissed once by a boy she wasn't interested in, she'd been dancing but had never stayed up that late, and her immediate plans extended as far as finding an office job. And now here she was, her skirt and slip pushed up around her waist, straddling the skinny playwright who lived upstairs, riding his cock while he moaned and encouraged her with his hands on her hips. They were both a little drunk, and she knew if she bent down to kiss him her mouth would taste like bootleg gin and cigarettes.

And the last time they had sex, two weeks ago, he'd bent her over his desk, pushed up her dress, and fucked her from behind.

She felt like a new person, and she loved the woman she'd become. She'd become the person she wanted to be, the person she thought New York would transform her into. She liked to think she even looked different - not just because she'd learned how to apply her lipstick as red and perfect as any It Girl, or because she had her hair cut by someone who knew what he was doing, or because she was making her own clothes in much more fashion-forward styles, but because she hoped someone could see it in her face, how proud she was of what she'd accomplished so far, how pleased with herself she was.

She even discovered herself very slowly making a friend in Brooklyn, a nice Jewish boy who sometimes came to Mr Tartikoff's shop to get his suits altered, or to pick them up for his brothers. His name was Leo, he told her, and he taught elementary school in Flatbush, and how did she come to be working for Mr Tartikoff? They had very short conversations, but he was very nice (and unmarried, she noticed, thinking as she did so that Rose would be so proud of her) and polite and funny, and something about him reminded him of boys from home in a way that made her a little homesick.

"If you miss home," Gigi suggested, when Sadie mentioned it, "go visit."

"They don't want to see me," Sadie said. She fingered a length of pink satin and tried to imagine a beaded hem.

"How do you know?"

"My parents won't talk to me when I call home. I've talked to my sister every time, and my brother once or twice, but no one else. My mother writes me once a month, if that, just to tell me how the grocery store is doing and what my cousins are up to. They still don't approve of me being here, living with you, or that I came all this way just to work for in another tailor's shop. They think I should be living with Rose and Ida, or in the residential hotel, or with a husband."

"You're not going to tell them about Alistair, are you."

"Oh my god, no. They'd come get me and drag me home. They don't even know I've taken up smoking, and my Aunt Minnie smokes like a chimney so you'd think they'd be used to it." She shook her head. "They know about my work and I tell them about your plays and the theater collective, but there's so much of my life that would shock them, I can't share it."

Gigi shrugged. "I tell my mother everything. But you know I do it because she's so easily appalled." She grinned. "Forget I said anything. There's a new jazz combo at Lucy's. We'll gather some friends and go tonight. It will make you feel better."

It did. Sadie was careful not to drink too much - difficult, when etiquette demanded that one always have a full drink in hand, and that one's friends were partly responsible for making sure that one did - and careful not to stay out too late, because she had to be in Flatbush in the morning and she had to be ready to work. But she danced with Victor and Gigi and Roman's friend Beatrice, and by the time she got home she felt much better. She did love her friends, even the ones she didn't know very well yet.

Marianna and Addy sent around invitations for a surprisingly straightforward and traditional Christmas dinner in Marianna's studio, and for New Year's Eve Gigi wanted to throw a party.

"A black-and-white party," she explained to Sadie. "Everyone wears black and white - no colors, no gray - and all the food will be black and white as well."

"So we'll be having rice and potatoes?" Sadie said, grinning. "Angel food cake. White liquor."

"I can get some bubbly. What can we have that's black?"

"Charred steak? Oh, devil's food cake. Other than that, I don't know. Can I invite Rose and Ida? I'm not sure they'll come, but I'd like to extend an invitation."

"Of course. Bring your new friend from the tailor's shop too." Gigi waggled her eyebrows and Sadie rolled her eyes. She didn't know Leo well enough to know how - or if - he might like a party with Greenwich Village bohemians. He seemed fairly conventional. Besides, what would she do about Alistair? She'd slept with Carroll because she knew Alistair wouldn't mind - she was pretty sure he'd slept with Carroll too - they were all part of the same crowd, and one of the things she'd learned was that they believed in a certain amount of sharing. Not just ideas and living spaces and food and potential contacts and commissions, but lovers as well. But Leo wasn't one of them. Leo was from Brooklyn.

But it was an idea. If she saw him again, she could at least ask what he was doing for New Year's.

The tailor's shop was closed all day New Year's Eve, but the day before, Leo came in to pick up a jacket and beat Sadie to the punch by asking if she had any festive plans.

"My roommate and I are hosting a party," she said. "Would you like to come? It's a black-and-white party, so you won't be able to wear that." She grinned and gestured to the suit jacket he'd had altered, which was brown. "I promised to make her a party outfit."

Gigi had in fact asked Sadie to make her a suit, like a man's suit but cut for a woman's shape. The shirt had been easy, although Sadie had always had a hard time setting the French cuffs, but the jacket was proving to be a problem, partly because Gigi kept having ideas about how she wanted it to fit. It was going to be black, with white piping and decorative white buttons, and the trousers were black with a white pinstripe. Gigi had black pumps and a white hat. Sadie had stuck herself with pins so many times she was considering just leaving them in her fingers.

She was also in the middle of making herself a sleeveless dress of black chiffon with a skirt that would flare when she spun, with tiny white silk roses on the front of one of the straps. She didn't have time to add beads or sparkly appliques or even anything to make a decorative pattern, but she was going to create interest by the way it draped and by the uneven hem, she was going to wear a white camisole under it, and Beatrice had gone with her to buy new shoes and new black stockings. Gigi would loan her some jewelry, and she would be festive enough.

"Black and white, you say," Leo said thoughtfully. "Where is it?"

"Barrow Street. Greenwich Village."

She wasn't sure, but she thought she saw a flicker of surprise cross his face. "You come in from the Village?"

"Every morning."


"I worked for a tailor back home whose cousin is a dressmaker out here. She sent me to Mr Tartikoff. I love working for him. I don't like the commute, but so many people do it, how can I complain?"

"You can always complain." He grinned. "You should hear my sister-in-law. All the time, she's complaining. My brother is having a dinner party for New Year's. I was going to invite you." He looked and sounded genuinely disappointed.

"Next year," Sadie said brightly. "You can take me somewhere in the new year. Or you can come to see me."

Was this flirting? This might be flirting. Something else she'd learned about herself - the ability to flirt.

Gigi was disappointed that Leo already had plans, but pleased that he seemed interested in Sadie even after learning where she lived.

"But Alistair - " Sadie started to say, but Gigi cut her off.

"Alistair is kind and fun and talented and I know he's learning how to please you, but no man is forever, Sadie. No man here."

Sadie wanted to protest, but she hadn't been thinking about Alistair in those terms. She liked him, and she certainly liked having sex with him, but she hadn't thought she'd be with him forever. For one thing, when she bothered to think about the man she'd probably marry, he was always Jewish. She'd very deliberately tried to shuck off a lot of the way she'd been raised, but she couldn't let go of that part of her upbringing. And while Alistair was lovely in a lot of ways, and there was a lot she liked about him, this one thing made him temporary.

Sadie hadn't thought of Leo as marriage material either, but she didn't know him that well. But now she did know that he was interested in her, or at least he thought he was enough to want to invite her to his New Year's Eve celebration.

The Winter Theater, Julia Chase's theater where Gigi performed and where the new artistic collective was based, had an evening performance on New Year's Eve, which frustrated the cast and crew, but they'd sold a lot of tickets and Julia invited them all to her house afterwards for her New Year's party. Gigi of course had other plans.

Sadie stayed home to finish baking, finish the decorations, and make sure everything was ready. The party was set to start at ten, which would give Gigi a half-hour from the time the play got out to the time people were expected to start to arrive, but she reassured Sadie that no one ever showed up on time.

And true to form, no one did. Victor was closest, arriving at about a quarter after ten, bearing white roses and a box of petits-fours. He was wearing all black, even his shirt, with a white bow tie. He kissed Sadie on both cheeks and went straight through to the kitchen, where Gigi was finishing up the champagne punch.

By eleven most people had arrived (Layla had said she might not make it before midnight, but she was going to try) and the party was in full swing. Sadie and Gigi had tried their hardest to keep the food to the theme - they had olives, white rolls, white cheese, deviled eggs with the yolks tinted black, chicken in a cream sauce also tinted black, meatballs rolled in dried seaweed, rice balls stuffed with cheese, white asparagus acquired at great cost from a grocery uptown, oysters, and Saltines. There was a giant punchbowl filled with champagne punch, several extra bottles of champagne (Gigi refused to say where she'd gotten them), a lot of bootleg gin, a lot of bootleg rum, ginger ale, and oddly pale lemonade.

The drinks became the one concession to the theme, because Roman showed up with two bottles of whiskey that he claimed had been smuggled from Canada, and Marianna brought some bottles of red wine. Fully half the people at the party had brought flasks, even though they all should have known that Gigi would have enough to drink.

Sadie had put her sewing machine away, under its cover, so she and Gigi could cover it with a cloth and use it as a table. People played records and tried to dance in the parlor, someone turned on the radio, they spilled down the hall and into the dining room and kitchen and out onto the back porch when it got too warm in the apartment. Carroll volunteered to make more champagne punch when they ran out, and at eleven-thirty Sadie and Gigi put out the desserts - angel food cake, devil's food cake, white meringues, chocolates, and Victor's petits-fours, which were appropriately frosted white and black and were arranged like a checkerboard in the box.

Right before midnight Gigi herded everyone into the parlor, where someone on the radio was counting down the minutes. She grabbed Sadie's hand and squeezed it, and as the announcer cried "Happy New Year!" the parlor erupted in cheers. Gigi threw her arms around Sadie's neck and kissed her on the mouth and told her she loved her, and then they both accosted Victor, and Layla, who had shown up about fifteen minutes earlier, grabbed Sadie in a hug, and then Sadie found herself facing Carroll, who gravely took her hand and shook it before laughing and pulling her close and kissing her. She was breathless with punch and cocktails and food and everyone's affection and so intensely happy she couldn't articulate it. After Addy released her, Alistair wrapped his arms around her, kissed the top of her head, and wished her a happy new year. His shirt smelled like cigarette smoke. She tipped her head back and he kissed her on the lips. It was a good kiss.

They stayed in the apartment for another couple of hours, eating and drinking and still trying to dance. Roman had brought yet another lady friend who now wanted to go outside and walk - it was hot and crowded in the apartment, she'd had too much to drink, she needed air - so they all put on their coats and gloves and hats and streamed outside to dance down the street and yell new year's greetings at any lit windows or open doors that they passed.

They ended up at Julia Chase's house, which had lights blazing from every window, and strolled in like they had every right to be there, even those of the group who had nothing to do with the theater. Julia didn't seem to care, but it was almost an hour before Sadie even saw her. And again, there was food and drink and music and people to talk to, and Sadie danced and downed more punch and spent a good fifteen minutes pressed against the wall in an upstairs hallway, one leg hooked around Alistair's thigh, his hands in her hair and his tongue down her throat.

In the past few months, she'd learned that the more he drank, the less he was interested in sex, but his desire to kiss her never really went away. She was not going to complain.

They stumbled home around sunrise, or at least Sadie assumed they did, because when she finally came to in the afternoon of January first, in her own bed, still wearing her crushed party dress, arms and legs unsurprisingly tangled with Alistair's, she couldn't even remember how she got home. She was both hungover and still tipsy, and the tipsy part of her wanted to kiss Alistair awake for some new year's sex, but the hungover part of her really desperately wanted to go back to sleep. The hungover part won.

words: 3634
total words: 31,723


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