Saturday, December 02, 2006

Why Can't We Be Friends?

Blog, meet the beginning of very-rough-draft-needs-lots-of-work Writing Sample. Writing Sample, meet neglected blog. Now, can't we all just get along?

The books told Avalon to dress a position or two up. The books were wrong.

Though she was not on the marbled floor of the storefront, but somewhere deep into the in-house media and marketing department, the cream tones so integral to the brand had continued. Yet there was a marked difference between the rich paint and suede of the ground level and here, on the fourteenth. The walls bent bruised, scarred from deliverymen’s oversized packages. The carpet, dyed dark to disguise the amount of filth it contained, bubbled up at corners. Stacked cardboard boxes carved a labyrinthine path for the employees.

Avalon perched at the edge of the beige banquette, always a beige banquette it seemed, on the farthest side and watched workers enter. One thing envisioned and in glaring reality, another seen. No separates, coifs shiny as mink pelts, slim bracelets, peep-toe sandals. No power as tall postures, silver-haired bosses sashaying past well-stocked supply cabinets, swinging distressed leather briefs, settling in at new computers emitting a saturated glow.

Instead, grumbling employees, each arriving more rumpled than the last. They were hunched. Their eyes were rabbit-pink. They sipped from enormous cups and did not concern themselves with combing their hair.

Avalon wondered for a moment if she was in the wrong place. Surely this was not the Fortune 500 company of Mitchell’s, with its shimmering Fifth Avenue flagship. The oasis for the rich with its famed window displays. Where a gorgeous woman, by design or by dollar, could tip-toe in on crocodile stilettos led by a teacup pup with its nails painted orange—and as she swished past the revolving doors she’d giggle to herself that orange was the new pink—and she’d scoop potions, plumpers, glosses, laquers, vials of glimmer, creams as thick as butter, and small powdered squares of fuscia and turquoise before tossing her golden locks by the elevator to take her to the next floor, and the next.

She could see, as the reception area was a strange communal room that bore two florescent hallways, that even the interior offices did not look so nice as she had hoped. She walked the reception counter and waited her turn. A woman smiled, not warmly.

“I’m sorry, this is so embarrassing, but I don’t know who I’m supposed to see.” She resisted the urge to pick at her nails. “I think maybe we talked downstairs? From the lobby phone?”

“Hmmm. Are you Babylon?” The woman’s lipstick bled out from the edges of her mouth.

“Avalon. Avalon Shaner.”

“Wooo. I was going to say…” the woman laughed and then frowned. “Still strange though.”

Avalon stretched a smile thin.

“You’re here to see Pam right?”

“Yes!” She skipped a little. “That’s right. Pam. In HR.”

“Just a few minutes.”

She retreated to the couch. She did not do as usual (that would be to kick off her shoes and tuck her legs underneath her) and instead stared at her heels, the right one in particular, where a wide scuff had carved itself into the toe. She licked her finger and tried unsuccessfully to buff it out. It must have happened at the subway escalator when a middle schooler’s skateboard came crashing down on her feet. Or perhaps outside it was inside Grand Central; all hurried, panicked, green and confusing. Where businessmen swirled through throngs of gaped-mouthed tourists and clusters of students.

All her years of Christmases in the city, frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity’s, skating at Roc center under the glow of lit angel trumpets, her mother’s crisp Saks bags and the calfskin gloves that gripped them, her stepfather’s tweed hat dusted with frost, and her joy at every age, particularly when she was younger and had red patent-leather shoes, seemed very far away. A Connecticut girl’s impression of New York in a swaying winter, under the protection of boughs and a rabbit-lined hood couldn’t be further from August’s job search, swollen toes, bundles of papers and no clue how, or if, Broadway differed from West Broadway, East from West 12th, and Sixth Avenue from Avenue of the Americas.

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