When I awake I’m a scrunchy mess in the beanbag and Leanne keeps telling me the time like a broken clock. I check my watch which says 08.35. Ugh my head. SHIT 08.35. I quickly jump to my feet but my eight-inch stilettos suggest otherwise throwing me face first back into the beanbag.
“Shit Leanne why didn’t you wake me?”
“I thought you hooked up.”
I fling off my heels and run upstairs to the main bathroom where I slip on one of the guy’s soaking wet towels.
“Kelly are you okay?” Leanne shouts up the stairs.
“Ugh,” I say pulling myself up off the floor in full view of the mirror, “FML.”
My eyes are so bloodshot that I look like I have pink eye.
“Leanne could you get my glasses for me doll?”
I do my best to mask my tragic road kill face but there’s only so much magic even concealer can weave.
“Any luck hun?” I plead while liberally applying makeup through passionate fits of blinking.
“Not yet.”
I brush my teeth desperately trying to remove the toxic taste of Red Bull from my tongue watching myself through old movie projector eyes as I move in fast uneven bursts while Leanne pleads with the cameraman not to let me drive.
“I’ll be fine Cowgirl.”
After a super quick change of clothes I fly down the stairs missing the last three completely as I stumble to a halt. Leanne quickly picks me up and looks at the cameraman as if to say I told you so.
“Oh so you found them?”
“Found what?”
And she slides the glasses down over my eyes with a laugh.
“Okay Bri lets rock n’ roll.”

After a super quick change of clothes I fly down the stairs missing the last three completely as I stumble to a halt. Leanne quickly picks me up and looks at the cameraman as if to say I told you so.
“Oh so you found them?”
“Found what?”
And she slides the glasses down over my eyes with a laugh.
“Okay Bri lets rock n’ roll.”

I beep my horn but nothing moves and Brian says something odd about the highway being full of broken heroes before laughing at his own private joke.
“Oh my god what are all these people doing up at this ridiculous hour?”
I know Brian’s about to say something smart so I tell him to shut up. Slowly we begin to inch forward, the sun mocking high above.
“You have a good night last night?” Brian says.
“Not that I remember. I think there might have been a cute guy. You probably know better.”
He tells me that he wasn’t working last night (Dillon was) which really confuses me as I could have sworn we did a shot last night. Even with the glasses my eyes are very itchy and I can feel the post-Red bull slump beginning to kick in – I badly need a coffee. Maybe a brownie too.
BEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEPPPPP…and I’m momentarily terrified until I realize it’s the red Cadillac tailing in my rearview mirror.
“Holy fuck Kelly you nearly got us both killed.”
“What? He’s the one flipping me off.”
“Because you drifted into his lane without even looking. You only missed his front bumper by inches!”
I do my best to focus on the road but my bottom lip begins to quiver and before I know it I’m crying for no apparent reason.
It’s only in the coffee house that I notice for the first time what I’m wearing. My first day in fashion college and I’m dressed in a shitty brown poncho, invisible blue dress, and short black ankle boots. I look like a
floating head and will in all likelihood be made stand in front of the class as an example of what not to wear. The thoughts of people throwing fruit at me take over my mind causing my stomach to cartwheel.
Outside the shop a homeless man with a funny sign asks for some money and I give him the couple of dollars leftover from the coffees. When I return to the Escalade I can’t help but laugh as it’s so far up on the sidewalk it looks like it’s trying to have sex with it. Inside Brian moans about how we should have been on location twenty minutes ago.
The rest of the drive is carried out in auto-pilot mode as I zigzag in and out of half-finished thoughts – what time did we get home at? Did Tori hook up?Why is my butt so itchy? By the time I arrive at campus we’re forty minutes late. After locating the reception area I’m met by a pissed off receptionist who tells me to hurry through and that Diane has been expecting me.
I knock on the door and slowly pop my head around to discover Diane behind her desk.
“You must be Kelly?” She says and I take this as my cue to enter.
“Hi it’s so great to finally meet you Diane,” I say making my way towards her desk, “sorry I’m late.”
“Sure not to worry.” Diane says behind an icy smile before shaking my hand, “Please have a seat.”
I have a look around the office which is minimally furnished and has nothing on the walls except for a few strategically placed framed magazine front covers. Diane herself is working from a tiny laptop and the whole thing seems makeshift.
“I’m assuming Kris spoke to you this morning?” Brian says.
“He did. Are we on yet?”
“No just give me a couple more minutes.”
The two continue to talk over me about production stuff I know nothing about. I’m not sure what to make of Diane as she looks like a middle-aged housewife and not the vibrant Vanessa Williams I expected. Maybe it’s the masculine grey waistcoat and beige halter neck top causing her to look so pale but I don’t think so. Even her highlights seem a faded blonde amongst her natural cropped brown hair do. Poor thing looks like she could do with a good watering.
“So what made you want to get into fashion Kelly?” Diane says.
I’ve loved clothes ever since like forever. When I was a little girl I had a Barbie stencil kit and used to love designing all her outfits.”
“Okay we’re good to go.” Brian says.
Instantly Diane’s whole facial dynamic changes and she starts yelling at me about the importance of timekeeping.
“But I already apologized.” I say confused as to why she’s chosen to bring it up now.
“I don’t want to hear it. House or no house you’re in a privileged position here at the elite academy and I’m not going to stand for any of your crap. You understand me?
And I really don’t yet nod in acceptance.
“Fashion styling is a profession which requires passion, and a deep and working knowledge of fashion as well as a canny sense of trends of the moment. Your first module will cover the importance of accessorizing and layering techniques before moving onto basic color theory, fabric and body shapes.
“What nobody said anything to be me about college?” I say genuinely panicked and for once Diane seems more confused than me.
“Kelly could you please stick closer to the script.”
“What script?”
“Kris sent everyone scripts the other day.”
“Well script or no script there’s no way I’m going back to college. This is exactly the type of thing I came into the house to avoid.”
Diane attempts something which I can only assume is meant as a smile and tells me the whole thing is industry standard, and that when Lauren and Whitney interned at Teen Vogue they had the exact same setup.
I’m about to tell them that college is for people without dreams and protest further when Bri cuts across me.
“Diane’s right Kelly. You don’t actually have to attend college at all – we just film the scenes there to make it seem like you do.”
Diane begins to laugh before saying, “You don’t think Lauren got people sandwiches or organized events do you?
“You really had me worried there,” I say genuinely relieved, “because that would be tragic.”

Next chapter.

Previous chapter.

From the beginning.

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