Noelle found out through her twitter account that Lombardi’s was selling whole pizzas for a nickel. I so had to sign up for twitter! Well, needless to say, Leo, Noelle and I decided to have our lunch break at Lombardi’s where we couldn’t get off the topic of work. Especially me.
The huge market for feminism and power for women has increased publisher’s appetites for strong female writers, confident voices. An insight into the world of gender equality sounded like a drag to some, but not when it was marketed well, not when it involved everyone, not when it transcended time. I was flipping through manuscripts and realised that if I wanted to seek out a strong female voice, I needed to really seek. It. Out.
“Why don’t you try posting notifications somewhere,” Noelle said, taking in a mouthful of her Hawaiian.
“The thing is though,” I said after taking a bite and wiping the corner of my mouth with the back of my hand, “I’m not sure this publishing company is even up for sticking their neck out to find someone. They’re too busy for that. They always want people to come to them.”
“So you need not just anyone,” Leo said. “You need someone already well known.”
“You need Maya Angelou,” Noelle said.
“Yeah,” I trailed off.
This was going to be a tough decision, and David was counting on me to initiate the wave of strong female voices in literature. The task was daunting but I was up for it; by all accounts, I was up for it. It had occurred to me then, that if I could just get Emma Watson, or Mrs. Flawless-Carter herself, Beyonce, then I’d be in the safe zone.
“Good luck with that,” Leo said, he and Noelle chuckling.
I rolled my eyes and smiled. “Thanks.”
I didn’t even bother putting the brakes on when everything was going astray. In an attempt to let go of the past, move on, and accept the fact that a current long-time relationship was changing for the worst, I hopped on the first flight back to California to meet up with my besties.
Oh? Did you forget? It’s Janet’s art show! I’ve been excited for this moment my whole entire life. One of the most satisfying things in life is watching as you see the people you love and are closest to successfully achieving the greatest in their lives. I was like a proud mother, hopping off to the side, rubbing away a single tear that reflected the light, like a character in one of those Japanese animations like Spirited Away. But let’s not get carried away.
“Before we leave,” Janet said, “I just want to say something.” Stanley was waiting in the car, and each and every one of us was dressed in upscale black tie garments. “Thank you, all of you, for taking time out of your busy days and nights to drive, or walk or fly—” she squeezed my hand and we laughed “—out to come and see my first show. I’m so excited to share it with my best girls; my Californian Soulmates. I love you guys.”
“Ah, shit,” Jodie said, waving at her eyes, “let’s get the fuck out of here before I spring a leak. I love you too, Janet.”
We murmured our love back and forth, all the while hugging Janet in a group hug. My hair got caught on Chloe’s bracelet and for the next ten minutes we were laughing hysterically, as I rubbed the back of my head at the sharp pain once she snapped her arm back.
We all looked and felt like different people. Chloe scored a job in marketing for a high-powered high-profile company in L.A.; Janet was a freelance designer by day, artiste by night; and Jodie was living the ultimate dream of exercising, competing and meeting hot and fit people every day while looking hot and fit as a result of her career. Each fantasy was being lived out, and I was just so happy that I had been there for the in-the-making process of it all; even though I skipped to the end.
Janet had a very street style to her paintings. It was rural, urban and industrial at times; the people she drew shone through the paintings, almost more 3D than the people themselves. There were differing generations of differing races, painting in what appeared to be in the same neighbourhood. The exhibition was titled ‘Brothers and Sisters’, and it was an insight of how place brought us together.
“We often choose to live where we live, and place tends to be overlooked in artwork, perhaps not by the artist but the viewer,” Janet said during her speech. “I wanted to showcase that, even if a white person lives in a typically black neighbourhood, or a black person lives in a typically white neighbourhood, it all comes down to that sometimes unconscious decision, that we don’t even seem to recognise, to feel at home in the same neighbourhood even though we’re not of the same race. I thank you all for coming and please enjoy.”
The crowd sifted out and the music erupted. Jodie pointed at a painting. “You painted Iggy Azalea?”
Janet giggled. “That was just for fun. But it definitely makes you think, huh?”
We all nodded. The surrealism of it all was a hell of an eye-opener. I knew Janet was talented, but ever since I hadn’t seen her draw in a while, her skills had been sharpened to perfection. As I looked on from the distance as Janet spoke to the gallery owner, watching her grin from ear to ear with utter joy, I knew Janet was on her way to becoming one of the greatest artists I’ve ever had the pleasure of knowing. My best friend ladies and gentlemen!
Later that evening, Martin had the bar opened late for us in celebration of Janet. We clinked our glasses together and cheered, “To Janet!”
Janet curled up closer into Stanley, bashfully. “You guys, stop it. To us.”
“No, to you,” I said. “You sold your paintings, that’s cause for celebration.”
“I only sold three.”
“For one-fucking-thousand dollars each?” Jodie said. “Hell yeah!”
“And there might be a fourth painting selling,” Stanley added. “Apparently there’s two buyers interested with same painting so they’re going into a sort of bidding match until one of them backs out. And she’s getting a feature in the LA Times.”
Chloe lifted a brow. “The future Picasso everybody.”
“To Janet,” Jodie lifted her beer.
And we all followed suit. “To Janet!”
After we wound down, Chloe and Jodie decided to tag along on my little trip to see Randy and the club. Janet and Stanley went home, exhausted yet elated from the night. Even excitement can make someone crash. None of us could emphasise how proud of Janet we were; no more than Stanley. They coo-ed and cah-ed into each other for most of the hour we were at Martin’s. It reminded me of how much I missed Daniel. I should have told him to come with me instead of pretending like I didn’t need him to come. And why wouldn’t he have come anyway; he was Stanley’s friend after all. He would have been welcomed with open arms.
The night carried on well, and the three of us were so tired but didn’t want to go home just yet. We didn’t want the night to end because that meant I had to hitch a flight back to New York soon; even though one has absolutely no effect on the other.
“Oh my God,” I said, looking down to hide my face, “it’s Nikki.”
“Crazy bitch?” Chloe asked, scanning the room obviously. “Where?”
“Stop looking,” I hissed.
“Man, we do not want her to come up here and tear this place up. Especially what happened after Derek,” Jodie said.
I shot my gaze up, my brows knitted. “What happened to Derek?”
“How would you know anything happened?” Chloe asked.
Jodie rolled her eyes. “Yeah, no, a girl on the track team came here to replace you after you left. I told her about the job opening and she jumped at the chance. Anyway, she told me that Derek overdosed.”
My heart dropped to my stomach. “He overdosed?”
“On some,” she wondered, “anti-depressant drugs, I think. Ironic, huh?”
“What does that mean?” I asked, a little too concerned.
I shook my head. “No, about Derek. What does it mean with Derek?”
Jodie sighed, shrugging. “As far as I know, he’s in the hospital under intensive care.” She paused. “Yup, who knew behind all that effortless confidence therein lied a man who was damaged and hurting inside.”
“Do you think I should see him?” I asked after some hesitance. I didn’t exactly have a good track record with him or Nikki.
Jodie and Chloe bother caught each other’s glances, and I knew right then they thought it was a bad idea. And just when I was about to make up my mind that I should go and see Derek, out of respect, Nikki noticed me from afar and gave me one of the coldest stares I had ever seen in my life. She said something to her friends, a then they both shifted their attention to me, giving me the same cold stare.
Right then I knew, I’d be doing more damage than good visiting him. At least he was safe now, and he was on his way to a better recovery. All in due time, when the moment was right, I’m sure we’ll bump into each other someday.
***Hi everyone! So, a few things: one, I have uploaded another part of my WattPad story for your viewing pleasure, feel free to check it out. I’ve also noticed that I can view those parts on my phone easily, without needing to sign up, so perhaps you guys can too! Two, I’m currently in the middle of writing a Harlequin romance that I’ve entered a little contest-ish for in the hopes of getting published. Now, I wasn’t going to enter unless I got published one way or the other because I didn’t want my story to go to waste so I realised, if my steamy sexy story doesn’t get picked up by Harlequin, that I’m going to self-publish the book! I say this to all of you now because in the book I’ve written in a couple of readers as characters (mum was the first one to be mentioned!), as an ode to you lovely people! I plan on writing more, and simultaneously editing, but I wanted to know if anyone had a problem with that, or if anyone didn’t want to be featured in the book, to tell me now so I can edit you out; or if you badly so want to be featured in the book then, well, tell me now with the descriptions you know I always ask for whenever I feature readers in my posts on this blog, and I’ll try my best! I need this information pretty soon so I’m giving everyone by the scheduled upload of next post to let me know whether or not they want to be featured in my book (so excited!). Thirdly, there are 6 more followers left before I can upload a BONUS post (even though I uploaded like two before) so be sure to subscribe! Once again, my thanks to all you lovely souls! How did you guys find Janet’s art show? Did you like it? Did you not like it? Thoughts? Keep on keeping! Soul xo***