Art Project – 18 More like Business

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Art Project – 18
More like Business



By Jessica C



Andrew’s problems with attention-deficit caught up with him…
Designing a prom gown instead of a suit,
Turned Andrew’s problem into an opportunity…
Andrew is set on being himself or Andrea as s/he chooses…




=^_^=~


Grams Hollister calls my name, Andrea, your other grandparents are here. Please go and help your Grandmother and Grandfather Stephens; they just drove up. They always bring more food than needed. I give Grandmother Stephens a hug and she feels the need to touch my hair and comment: “You must be spending more time as Andrea. I hear from neighbors that your clothes have become very popular. People expect me to know when they’re wearing your clothes.” She gives me a casserole to carry in. She carries in a cranberry relish.

Cousin Sharon comes from behind us to hold the door. “Hi, Mrs. Stephens.” To me she says, “It’s good to see you’re Andrea today.” Sharon and I are to peel the potatoes like usual. It is the first time we’re doing this both as girls.

Sharon says, “I am really surprised JC and X-Press don’t have you out working Black Friday. So can you go shopping with me early? Do you need to help your friend at her store tomorrow after you shop with me?”

Her two brothers Brent and Mason are, both older than Leah and have graduated from college. Neither one is close to Heather; they are now upset about me seeing myself sometimes as Andrea. Nor do they go for the idea of Andrew designing women’s clothing. They may be in time for dinner, but unless they’re interested in a football game. They won’t stay long.

Uncle Nate Hollister still has a limp from the accident three years ago. His wife had since divorced him, remarried and moved away.


=^_^=~


We were in the end of the meal when I received two calls that I had put off answering. The desserts are served. This time it is my Mom’s phone that rings and she answers it, as she walks away from the table. She’s back, yet still on the phone. “Andrea, its Mr. Tompkins calling. He insists you need to be at the Capitol Mall after you help Carrie open her store. He said if you got there before noon to the Mall, you could be to the game by its starting time.”

I moan to Mom. She says, “Tompkins says, you will also need to be doing promotions before Christmas and after the turn of New Year’s Day.” I quickly get on the phone to talk him to change his mind.

That is not what happens. He does say, “If your sisters get you to the mall and then go to the game. We will have a limousine ride for you to the game. We ask you start as Andrew in your hometown, but show up at the Mall as Andrea. JC already told us how good of a change artist you can be.”

Two weeks before Christmas, you are going to be honored in New York City to be our Young Designer of the Year. They will have three young women modeling clothes for the holidays, winter and spring. We want to show off three of your hot looks for this spring as well as the current pieces we’re promoting.”


=^_^=~


Sharon was close by, “That’s a bummer they’re insisting you work on Black-Friday, knowing you have a game. I thought you’re your own boss. It looks like your new contract isn’t so hot?”

“It’s a great contract, but it doesn’t save me from being held responsible. As good as sales have been, tomorrow and up to Christmas is all new to me. It wouldn’t surprise me to be within a mile of the game yet miss it.”

Sharon Hollister says, “Will you want a helper, I’d be willing to go?”

I say, “Sharon I’m going to start out as Andrew and have to change while I’m on the way to the Capitol Mall. I don’t think you’ll want to be with me for that.”

She says, “Silly, I’ve seen you as Andrew and now as Andrea. I hate to tell you but it’s not a big deal for me. I like shopping but I can do that most anytime.”

Mom is now with us, “Honey, I’m sorry to hear what they’re asking but I’ll be with you. We’ll do our best to get you to the game.” She asks, “Sharon, did I hear you’d be willing to help her? If you’d be willing and not too embarrassed Andrea could use your help. She tends to over extend herself and me too.”

Sharon cheers over the opportunity to go. I say, “Sharon, I am not fun to work for. You’d need to dress nicely including makeup, a skirt or dress and your whole look. You’d need another change of nice clothes. I might also be seeing you change. Now how uncomfortable will that be?”

It is eight in the evening and I’m with the other girls, redoing nails. Sharon and I have two outfits for tomorrow. I have a new skater dress with leggings for Sharon. She looks very good in skirts but usually doesn’t wear them except for today for Grandma’s pictures. The blue skater dress with the dominantly silver pattern of the legging’s will draw a lot of attention. Our 4:30 wakeup time won’t be fun.

=^_^=~


Dan drops us off at 6:30 am. at Carrie’s shoppe and stays long enough to carry in a display table and one box. The bank’s message board has my picture and information for Carrie’s and the Capitol Mall for Hillside fans.

Before 8:30, Carrie’s Niece Lee comes with an outfit comes to me, “Enough of Andrew, Carrie has too many requests for pictures with Andrea?”

I resist, “I know that Carrie wouldn’t insist on me changing now. It would be awkward.”

Lee says, “You’re right she wouldn’t. I’m asking as she deserves to be able to show you off.”

Lee’s right, the corporation doesn’t care about stores like Carrie’s. I close Carrie’s office door and strip off my clothes like a model. Lee’s there to help with makeup and hair. Working together I change clothes and change my appearance in just over seven minutes. It is one of my green handkerchief skirts with a white blouse and a red print vest. The white blouse could have been heaver to hide my bra and small breasts, but it’s not intentionally.

Girls from ten to women in their forties ask for my opinion and want to take a selfie with me. I see Ms Jensen and her two young pre-teens. They’ve stood at a distance for over an hour. I know they’d like a picture with me, but they’re not well off for some reason. I have Mom select outfits for each. When she has them; I break from what I’m doing. The girls and their mom are turning away when I reach them.

“Amy and Ardis, I need your help?” Both turn as they know my voice; we’re friends. Ardis is very happy; Amy the older one is ready to cry. They are more than nice to me. It is an effort to find out that their mom, Bev Jensen was laid off work.

“I need you girls to model these for me for pictures, please.” They’re nice enough to cooperate. I look to my Mom, “Bev, I need help with a job for my instate accounts.”

It has been my mom’s responsibility and will change her income some. Mom says nothing about herself, except telling Bev, “Monday can you come by our home around nine and I’ll share your responsibilities, if you want the job?”

The girls are back showing off their outfits over white tights. I have each one on a table with me one at a time. We show off the outfits, and then I produce a holiday poncho and a traditional poncho for the other girl. They each start out with one of them and then is switched. “This is a great way to stay warm between stores or to the car, and yet take with you.”

I hadn’t thought of connecting the ponchos with shopping before and the holiday ponchos are from JC’s line. With that presentation I’m near the end of my time there. The girls have since learned their Mom has a good job. Now they get to learn they’re keeping their outfits.

I had not known, nor had my mother, but Bev was laid-off last summer.


=^_^=~


I’m glad the back windows are darker; they allow me to change with a sense of privacy. “Nice,” says Heather, “I’m glad, you were already wearing your panties, Andrew. All I need do now is get to be with you as Andrew designing dresses.”

I have a cute half-slip that acts like a two layer petticoat. The cherry pink skirt works with or without the girly suspenders over my white blouse. The green collar works with the suspenders to accent the outfit. I am heavier than usual with the makeup as the sale lights tend to bleach out my face.

Mom has a mix of Christmas songs, and popular music playing. Heather has taken a turn in helping to use a curling brush to frame my face with brushed up curls. Looking into a mirror I am impressed. Mom hands back to Heather a silver necklace with matching earrings. I have thirty minutes to polish, buff and dry my fingernails. Wow, how far I’ve come. The boy Andrew of fifth grade smiles from within. Last Thanksgiving he was not out.

I remember a Thanksgiving at Grams, when I got into the makeup she kept for my sisters and cousins to play with. Hurt playing outside with my older and bigger cousins Brent and Mason, I was allowed to lay down on Grandma’s bed. I loved the smell of her perfume. I saw Heather and my sisters and other girl cousins leaving Grams big walk in closet.

Mom found me there almost an hour later. My attempt at making up my face that day was only beautiful to me. Today, I speak up, “Mom, am I as pretty as six years ago?” I see Mom’s eyes in the rearview mirror.

She says, “That young person was dreaming; you’re eyes seem fully alert. I do however see the resemblance.”

We’re driving into the city and we’re to a drive-up window without a long line. Chicken sandwiches will have to do along with diet drinks. Two department stores and three specialty shops are carrying my clothing line. I see why Mom has me wearing this outfit. I thought I had chosen it. The promo-pictures do not have the suspenders. Walking in carrying my drink, I am already being recognized.

Jennifer Lach and Sarah James are the first faces I recognize, and Jenn’s already texting someone else. Mom gets a call from Heidi and Leah; we’re to start at Macy’s. They want me at a table; while I prefer to move around.

One girl says out-loud, “I heard Andrew was the one who was there at Hillside this morning. I was hoping to see him.”

I replied, “Macy’s and X-Press wanted me here as Andrea.” She is more than happy with a selfie of us. Mom’s taking pictures, while many girls prefer a selfie on their smart phones and tablets. Many friends are surprised the Carrie is comparable to Macy’s in carrying my line.

I do get to check on JC’s line and text back to her office my findings. There are items that were shipped missing from both our lines. My items that are displayed have had more of the inventory reloaded. I have not seen the volume of sales that one manager is telling me about. Several shoppers are surprised to find, ‘I’m a normal girl.’

I stand in the middle of five beautiful college students for more pictures. Heather is writing names and e-addresses to send pictures too. It is at X-Press Limited that the welcome has the imprint of the corporate family. It’s a very warm reception, I am there for a half hour, before circulating around to the other department store and shops carrying my line of clothing. I am back here again at 2:00 p.m. for the remainder of my time.

The crowd has started thinning out, but I’m attracting shoppers who were out earlier and back to see me. There are few that have not bought an item or two more. I sign the hems of many skirts and numerous dresses. It could become a problem for items brought back or exchanged. It is 3:10 when X-Press thanks me for coming.


=^_^=~


Leah left word which gate I should be entering by. The Limo ride is nice, but we’ll need to pick up Mom’s SUV after the game. We are down by four points by the time we arrive near half-time.

I get a text from Jenn, Terra’s with her and they are wanting me down near the cheerleaders. A drive by Hillside stalls at the ten yard line and the field-goal attempt fails, ending the half. Mia and Kayla Scott, Matt’s sister are soon over to me giving me hugs while chiding me for being so late. “Andrea, where have you been? You don’t have our school colors on!”

Mrs. Scott is soon with us, “Andrea, you look very cute. Someone said you were at the Mall to promote Christmas sales. It is nice that you are here now.”

Sharon, a cheerleader is next to her with one of my skater dresses in school colors. I ask, “Do you really want me to change into that?” She smiles, “And be with us along the sidelines, yes!” She takes me by the hand and I’m soon following her to a changing room. My only privacy is her turning her back. It is not much of a change though she suggests a pair of matching tights and a panty like the cheerleaders are wearing. She puts a thick lip-gloss on me and smiles. I receive a barrette of streamers in school colors. Luckily, I had changed into a pair of Sketchers on my way to the field.

I am among some fans allowed to welcome the team back on the field along with the cheerleaders. I find myself jumping and doing high kicks as the team comes running in. A number of the players acknowledge me being there. I think Matt saw me just as he went running by to the bench, but Matt is wearing a different number on his jersey.

Hillside it to receive the kick off in the second half. The kick-off is made to the opposite side of the field from where the look alike is with Matt’s number. The kick is a bit shorter and Matt had back up to catch it. It is Matt’s speed that caught the other team by surprise. Matt was able to return the ball to the opponent’s side of the field. It took some eight plays before they were able to score a touchdown. With a 20-17 lead, both teams settle in to play tough the rest of the third quarter and into the fourth quarter. Hillside lost a fumble and their adversary was able to tie the score.

I can’t believe how, now as a girl, I am much more into the game. During a change of possession the cheerleaders take turns doing cartwheels and summersaults. I am encouraged to take a turn. I know I can do a cartwheel, but as Andrea I have not done one in public. Sharon gets behind me and pushes me out. I take to running ten steps and spring into the cartwheel. Fortunately I land on my feet and jump up clapping my hands.

Hillside is moving the ball to our side of the field. We are close to the sideline, when Johnny Atwood catches the ball and is knocked out of bounds. He runs into me and I go down holding onto him. Johnny gives me a kiss, asks if I’m okay and begins lifting me up and wiping me off. Officials say he needs to get back on the field.

I do hurt, but I’ll be okay. The crowd applauds and I look up to the big screen. It shows Johnny kissing me and heading back onto the field. I still have one camera in my face, a reporter asks my name.

I’m glad as the game is back underway. It is Johnny, not Matt, who scores the go ahead touchdown. We greet them coming off the field after the extra point. I receive several hugs with groping hands embracing me. It is similar with most of the cheerleaders.

Ms. Miller asks if I’m okay, “I guess you are accepted as one of the girls.” I say, “A fashion runway is not that much different, except these guys have added weight and muscle.” Trying to make a comeback Lockard gambles and an interception costs them more points.

The final score does not tell how close and hard fought the game really was. Union won their game earlier and Union-Hillside will compete for the championship next week.

Matt is required to travel back with the team, I travel with his Mom and sisters to greet him there. While Matt is excited about their win and being in the championship game; he is upset with his own play. He expects me to swoon over him and act like a girlfriend, but I’m not. I am not willing to do what I think he wants.

We go to where many players are gathering with others from the school. Johnny Atwood comes over and plants a huge kiss one me. I liked the attention but feel more like a trophy than a friend. It hits me, Hillside is my hometown, but Hillside is no longer my school like it is for the others.


=^_^=~


I blend in with the other fans; I check my smart phone for sales reports. Everything is preliminary but it looks fantastic to me. JC calls, “It looks very good, keep a good record this will be your baseline for future sales and years.”

X-Press indicates I need not worry, “You are not close to JC’s record years, so don’t get a swelled head. The two of you together are setting records for the company. There will be a gather in NYC Dec. 14, you need to be there.”

Gone are the niceties of asking if I can be there. JC says, “The honeymoon is over; in this world six months makes you a veteran of the business. They’ve moved from that to depending on you to get and do better. Don’t worry, when the cameras are on you will continue to be their young darling.”

I sleep in Saturday morning until 8:00 a.m., but then do get down to Carrie’s store as its small business Saturday. Leah and Mom are over to Plainfield and Corrinville for similar promotions. Leah is known to be part of my team here. Heidi is on a learning curve; she’ll take the new experience back with her in a new sense of confidence.

It is five o’clock when I go with Terra back to her place. I wanted to go home, freshen up and change. Terra says, “No, then you’ll want to go out and we won’t have time to ourselves.” We cuddle in front of a TV and I’m in Terra’s arms. With a blanket to give a little added privacy from others in and out of the TV room.

Terra slips a hand under by outfit to unhook my bra. While she cuddles me, I maneuver to pull my bra off and out. I am leaning back against Terra, in danger of falling asleep in her arms. She whispers in my ear. It’s all sweetness as she encourages me to unwind. Her hands glide over my back and the tension of the day are melting away.

I nuzzle near one of her breasts; it is the soft warmth that attracts me as I drift to sleep in her arms. It is 11:30 when she asks if I’m going home or staying. She hands me my phone which is buzzing. The texts asks, where I am and if I’m coming home.

I text back to Mom, “Sorry, I fell asleep in Terra’s arms.” I ask Terra, if it is alright to stay the night. I text back, “I’m staying at Terra’s. I should be home, mid-morning.” We nuzzle together under a pile of blankets. I was already out of most of my clothes.

Once in her bed I wake up enough to watch her get ready for bed. We took a half hour to enjoy the company of the other.


=^_^=~


Mom and Dan are with me after classes on Monday and we go over to the Flowery Saddle Pub; we brought with us a new bar chair for me. An Officer Rachel was sent over to warn me that I was not to abuse my owner status to be drinking while I’m underage.

I ask Rachel if our customers are ever singled out by law enforcement. When she avoids answering, I simply say. “It needs to be a two way street. I will observe the drinking age and I serve notice that I expect law enforcement to respect our customers, not to seek them out for harassment.”

Rachel asks, “Is that supposed to be a veiled threat?”

“It is merely a statement that our clientele have rights and we advocate for them to be observed…”


Story to be continued…



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