Graphene - Patent Pending
Hi, I’m Melanie. I am fifteen. I’m the fat girl in class. I have no friends, unless you count Fluffy the hamster in his cage my friend. Right now we’re in English class, with my boring teacher Mr. White, or Whitey, as we like to call him. He’s annoying, always clearing his throat like there’s a big gob of something in it. It’s disgusting. It’s hard being overweight. No boys like me, no girls like me and even my own parents don’t like me.
(Well, they have to, they are stuck with me.)
Sometimes I wonder what the other “me” is doing. The other me is not like “me” at all, she’s gorgeous, she’s dangerous and every man wants her. She’s Kennedy Williams and I am me, Melanie Bennet. We may be worlds apart, yet I feel her in me.
My day is always the same. I wake up to Mr. Snuggles, my cat, who jumps up on me in bed. Then I go downstairs for breakfast. My Dad is there on his laptop and my Mom is getting ready for work. She barely notices me, gives me a kiss on the cheek and runs off to her boring nine to five routine job. My Dad drives me to school and then the fun really begins. I have to avoid eye contact with Ben Armstrong, the cutest boy in class. I have a big crush on him and I am sure he knows it. Then I have homeroom where we go over the homework we were supposed to do. I always do my homework. I would feel bad if I missed an assignment, you know, like I was shirking off. Call me a nerd. I guess because I am one. I am just a big, fat nerd.
I hate gym class. I hate to change into my gym uniform in front of everyone. Why did God make so many skinny girls? Couldn’t more of them be fat like me? Why do I have to get naked in front of a bunch of anorexic waifs? I have to hide in the corner to undress in front of them. Then there’s my retarded gym teacher Ms Adams, I think she’s a lesbian. Ms Adams will make us run the track for ten laps, do sixty pushups and play dodge ball. She loves sweat. I hate gym more than anything. I know I am out of shape. The only class I really like is English, because that’s when I have time to think and to dream. That’s when “she” comes out. Kennedy Williams…
Iceland. On Location. Photo shoot 6:am
“God dammit! It’s freezing out here! Where’s my thermos? Whose idea was it to put me in a bikini in the middle of a snowstorm in Iceland? Sports Illustrated? Fuck them!”
The photographer is freezing to death, skinny wimp. I can see his snot frozen at the tip of his nose, his cheeks are white and I am a shivering mess. The makeup girl touches up my blush. My eyes are tearing up, it’s so cold. This is insane. I am making a lot of money to do this, that’s the only part that appeals to me. Being jerked off to worldwide does not warrant this torture.
“You got it Kennedy…Beautiful…Just a little more to the left, yeah, that’s nice.” How’d you like a punch in the nose? That would be nice too.
The shoot wraps and I am back inside the trailer on my cell to my boyfriend in New York. My boyfriend Mark is a football player and he’s a big baby. It’s amazing he can throw a ball without whining.
“No, I will not be home for your birthday, we’ll have to celebrate when I get back.” I sighed. God, he was so annoying!
“I’m feeling neglected Kennedy. It’s always that damn career of yours that comes first. You’re always off in some damn country, doing this and that…When will I come first?”
“Bingo. You hit the jackpot. Let’s see. I’m twenty-one, one of the hottest models in the world, I’ve got Vogue, Vanity Fair and Marie Claire breathing down my back and you feel neglected. I think you just answered your own question. You will never come first with me. Does that answer your question Mark?”
“You are a bitch Kennedy. A real ice queen.” I could hear his tears.
I lay back on my white mink coat and sipped my hot chocolate. Maybe it was better this way. It was foolish to lead him on any longer. My career was my life now and nothing would get in the way. Men were a revolving door and I was Macy’s.
I looked out the window of the RV. A tall man was getting out of a Hummer. It was Sven Vanderslopen, the client. He was coming to check out the goods, the meat. I was just that, fresh meat and these clients were hot for the kill.
“My pleasure to meet you in person Miss Kennedy”. He kissed my hand. His lips were cool and soft and he left a touch of saliva on my hand.
“The pleasure is mine Mr.Vanderslopen.”
“Please, call me Sven. I have admired your work a great deal. I would like that we get together this evening for some traditional Icelandic beverages.” His eyes were pleading with me in a desperate, sad way. I breathed my answer.
“Of course Sven.”
His eyes bore into my soul and onto my still scantily clad body. I’d seen the likes of piranhas like Vanderslopen before. He was no different, just wanted to show off his latest acquisition at the old rum shack, make the locals drool with desire. He was a rich man, he could afford to buy perfection, if only for a photo shoot and a drink afterwards. Married, no doubt with a pregnant wife at home and rug rats. Married men were the worst. Always wanting to “score” with the models to stoke their egos.
“Melanie? Did you hear the question?”
No, I had not heard the question. What was the question? I hadn’t the foggiest. I heard a snicker from behind me, it was Annette. She was the snarkiest girl in school, always ready to feast on the misfortunes of others.
“The question was, Melanie, did you read the first two chapters of “The Pearl” by John Steinbeck?”
The “Icelandic” beverages party turned out to be a throwback to the sixties. As I walked in the hazy, smoke filled room, several girls were dressed in long floral dresses, all smoking weed. Some men in business suits sat at a bar drinking beer and there was an Indian sitar player in the corner, bearded and covered in denim overalls. He too, was smoking weed. The overall effect was surreal and very smokey.
Vanderslopen spoke. “Would you like some wine Kennedy?”
“Yes. I would”.
He disappeared to the bar and I was quickly engaged by a curious local man, very handsome but stoned out of his mind. He had blonde hair and green eyes and a shaggy beard.
“Herman. Herman Hellgian. Sorry, my English is not so good.”
“You are very beautiful Kennedy, but you know that of course.”
“Thank you. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”
“Would you like a little smoke?”
He handed me a joint. I took it and smoked it. I felt the heat of the weed in my chest and lightness rushing to my head. I started to laugh. Out of the corner of my eye I saw Vanderslopen staring at us. I grabbed Herman by the hair and kissed him madly.
He surprised me by kissing me back. I was high, so fucking high out of my mind and the music was so good. I was floating, light as a feather, floating up to the ceiling. I was made out of glass and was wearing butterfly shoes and my dress was made of lovely soft bird feathers and I was warm. So warm. So high….So…..
Vanderslopen appeared with the wine. He eyed me coldly, his eyes an icey, stabbing, chilling blue.
“For you.” He said to me and handed me the wine.
“Get lost.” he said to Herman. Herman made an obscene gesture and got lost. Vanderslopen put his arm around me while carefully slipping his wedding ring off his finger.
“So, here we are. Do you like our little party?”
“Yeah, it’s cool. I am a little hungry now. I’m stoned.”
“Yes, of course….Come here, we have some traditional food here that you might enjoy…..”
We stood at the table. There were some platters of food, most of which I wouldn’t dare try. It looked disgusting.
“Ah, that’s one of our dishes that is a delicacy to be sure. It is Hakari or shark as you Americans would say.”
“Shark? I’ve never tried shark before. It sounds gross.”
“It’s a bit complicated this dish…You try a piece, like this and then you wash it down with some Brennivin, a local whiskey.”
“I’ll pass.” I didn’t want to wash anything down that was foul tasting with whiskey or any other beverage for that matter. I just wanted a big ice cream sundae with hot fudge on it. Not likely in this infirmory.
“I didn’t know that you models ate much.”
“We eat. Sometimes. Sometimes we don’t.”
“Care for a hot dog? It’s made from lamb. It’s very good.”
I looked at the hot dogs, they looked normal enough.
Much better than that shark shit he was trying to pawn off on me. Vanderslopen stayed close to me and every chance he could he would rub his shoulder into my breast. The high was coming down and I was getting so tired. I just felt like crashing on the couch, away from everyone.
“Do you feel sleepy?” he asked me.
“Yes, I am. I am so tired. I would love just to sleep now.”
“Why, of course my dear. Come. I will take you back to your room.” It suddenly dawned on me that Vanderslopen had brought me the wine. He could have slipped some drug in it. But just as I realized this I think I passed out.
I woke up the next morning naked and tucked under the sheets. My clothes were laid neatly on the chair. I had a headache. What the hell time was it? Vanderslopen was gone, but he had left me a gift by the bed. I opened up the box. It was a silver necklace with a horse pendant. I was confused and wondered how I got undressed last night.
I remembered the party but the details were fuzzy. I wondered if he had raped me. The sad thing was I didn’t know. I called my agent in New York.
“Michael Victor please. It’s Kennedy.”
I got transferred to Michael. It was 6am in New York.
“This better be good.” He said, yawning.
“Hi Michael. It’s Kennedy.” I was frantic.
“How’s Iceland? By the way, do you know what fucking time it is here?”
“I think I got fucked. By the client.”
“You think he fucked you?”
“I am not sure.”
“Get it together girl. I did not send you all the way to fucking Iceland to fuck around.”
“I don’t know what to do.” I was a mess.
“I’ll handle it. Just get on the next plane back to La Guardia and we’ll talk in person, alright? How did the shoot go?”
“It was fucking freezing. But I think they got some great shots, my naked ass was out there in minus 40 degrees with a bunch of polar bears.”
“Excellent. I can’t believe you let Vandserslop fuck you.”
“Fuck you Michael. Thanks for caring.”
Today my mother is taking me shopping to buy a dress for the school dance. She thinks she is doing me a big favor, looking for the elusive dress that won’t make me look like a beached whale.
I love my mother. She is a ditz, so wrapped up in her job and her marriage that she barley notices me. I’ll bet if I were prettier she would notice me, right now she looks at me as an obligation. A sort of “what happened to you?” thing that happened to her. How could a petite 106 pound woman have raised a two hundred pound daughter?
Back to the dance dilemma. I really like Ben and I know he will be there. I would love, love, love to dance with him. But I know he will never ask me. I’ve watched him from afar. He is so cute!
Maybe if I pick the right dress he will ask me to dance.
So we go to Macy’s. The place has a teen department so we start there. There are a bunch of dresses on sale so we pick through the. Black lace numbers, satin and spandex numbers, they all look small and ridiculous and tight.
I can see my mother is starting to lose patience with me as I slip one more “Pink Ice” dress on.
“I really like this one Mom.” It’s a black mini with a silver mesh top.
“It’s too tight.”
“No, its really comfortable. I can breathe in it, see?”
“Are you sure that’s the one honey?” She says, checking her cell phone.
“Yes. Mom, I am sure. And look, it’s on sale, forty percent off!”
She gives in wearily. I am happy I have the right dress for seduction going on. How will I seduce Ben? I have a plan….I will kidnap him and take him to a secluded place where I will take care of him, sort of like the movie “Misery”. Wait, they didn’t exactly fall in love now did they? Better think of another plan….I will tell him my rich uncle died and left me his estate. That might work in the beginning but then what do I do for dough? This is tough. There’s no way he is going to ask me to the dance. I guess I will just have to admire him from afar…Lets face it. I am a loser. There’s only one guy that remotely likes me at school and he is a total, and I mean total nerd, science geekazoid Paul Parks.
I sit beside Paul in science class. I hate science. He loves it and is the total brown noser, does all his projects and is currently working on several patents of his own. I have yet to develop a patent. I know he likes me because I am nice to him and laugh at all his cornball jokes. He’s like the Clark Kent yet to be superman. He’s cute in his own nerdy, square way. This week we are studying some matter called graphene in science. I have no idea what it is.
The dance is this Friday night. I have my dress, I have my shoes, now all I need is a date. Do I get asked by Ben or by Paul? I have to make one of them ask me…It won’t happen out of the blue that’s for sure.
Paris, Milan, New York. Finally I am back in New York after an exhausting six weeks of runway shows. I am back in my apartment again, it’s small and crowded, with clothes everywhere and bottles of wine and candles. I love to light candles at night, its so mystical and puts my head in a good place. I can zone out and watch the light flicker as I get stoned.
Paris was great. I did a show for a new designer Vivienne La Mont, her clothes were fabulous, very flowing and sheer. Then in Milan I did a show for Francois Gentile, an arrogant prick with bad ass designs. I am sure he is misogynistic; his clothes were torture to wear and very hard, hard lines. Seven inch stilettos and wired bras. I didn’t like him or his damn clothes. These obsessed designers can all go to hell in a Gucci handbag as far as I am concerned.
Tonight all I plan on doing is having a long hot bath and drinking some wine and going to bed. It will be heaven. I hear something…Wait…My bag is vibrating. It’s my phone.
Why is my cell ringing? Who wants me now? Damn.
“Kennedy, you’re back baby.”
It’s Mark, my ex boyfriend football player the suck. The man who always puts himself first.
“Hi Mark…How are you?”
“I’m fine baby, and I’m sorry.”
“It’s ok. I dumped you, remember?”
“It’s not about who dumped who, it’s about having a good time and I want to come pick you up and take you out.”
“No, Mark, really….I…..”
“Fuck that shit baby. We are going out tonight and that’s it. I’ll be there in an hour.”
Christ! My plans for being alone were ruined. Another night of partying in a big city, the city that never sleeps. I jumped in the shower and washed my hair. The hot water felt so good, so relaxing. I imagined sleep. But sleep was just a five-letter word to me now….
We ended up at Vito’s, a little Italian restaurant in the Village. Mark was well known there, so all the waiters were kissing his ass and asking him where he found such a beautiful date. I wondered how many other beautiful dates he had taken there.
“So? How was your shows?” he asked, looking around the room to see how many other men were ogling me. His hands were sweaty on mine.
“Great…It was very exciting.” I said.
“So I was thinking…maybe one day you’d like to give this “career” up and be a housewife in New Jersey at my mansion.”
“Is that what you think I should be? After…it’s all over?”
“Yeah, you know, have a few kids, a dog, you know, all that stuff…”
“Is this a proposal?”
“Uh, sort of.” He sat back, looking pleased with himself.
“Well, that’s interesting…I don’t know if I can give you an answer right now.”
The answer was no. I was sure of it. I was not ready to give up being the “it” girl yet. But I knew that in a few years or even as little as a few months my reign might be over. But did I want to be a football player’s wife and have a bunch of kids with him?
No…. Somehow I had imagined more for myself. Like maybe marrying a vineyard owner and businessman and having a winery in Napa or in Italy. We would grow our own grapes and live off the land. I imagined a more salty man, a rugged man, a real man’s man that would make me his wife one day, if all this were to go away…I wanted someone really romantic and mysterious, not this overgrown crybaby.
Mark was quiet and I could tell he was hurt by my silence.
“I understand if you need time baby…” he pouted into his beer.
Time. What was time? Time took away beauty and youth and mellowed you out and made you accepting of the world. Time gave you wrinkles and sagging breasts and stretch marks. All I did now was fight against the world, running from one place to the next, from one situation to the next one. I lived in a vortex and I loved it. I was in motion. I was “it”.
Twelve O’clock. Lunchtime. I waited outside the cafeteria for any sighting of Ben. He usually had lunch at the table near the windows. I’d stalked him many times before. There he was!! He looked great today, all cute and fuzzy in his new black hoodie and jeans. He stood in line and I jumped in behind him. We passed by the food line and he took several items on his tray. One hamburger, one serving of fries, one cole slaw and one milk.
I tried to think of something to say.
“So you like cole slaw?” was all that managed to escape from my big mouth.
He turned around, looking quite surprised that I could speak.
“Yeah. It’s good Melanie.”
Melanie….He knew my name!!! I was floored. I returned the favor.
“See you around Ben.”
Well, it wasn’t exactly an invite to the dance. But he knew my name! I wondered what else he knew about me? Just then Paul came over with a tray of food. He was smiling as he shoved one fry into his crooked mouth.
“Care to join me for lunch?” he said
“Sure.” What did I have to lose?
We sat near the windows a few aisles away from Ben. I could see him reading a book, engrossed in his food. The moment had passed. For one fleeting moment he had know my name and we had shared an exchange. Now all hopes were smashed as I sat with Paul the brain head.
“So what’s Sendecky going on about in science class?” I asked
“Oh, you mean the graphene?” he said
“Yeah, what’s that all about?”
“Well, in 2010 The Nobel committee awarded the prize in physics to a group of researchers whose newly discovered material could potentially change the world.”
“And that was graphene?”
“See, science class has not totally eluded you dear girl.”
“So what is it anyway?”
“Graphene is an atomically thin sheet of carbon that is two dimensional in nature. It takes over 100 times as much pressure to break a string of graphene as it would the same thickness of steel. It is also permeable to water and heat.”
“I still don’t get what this means to me.”
“It could change your world if you think about it. I’m working on a new patent that will involve graphene.”
“You would be. One day Parks, you are going to be very rich.”
“Perhaps…Mind if we change the subject?”
“What are you doing Friday night?”
The bells went off in my head. He was asking me to the dance. If I went with brain head Paul Parks then Ben would be out.
“Friday night…Friday night…I think I am free.” I was stalling for time against the inevitable. I looked over at Ben, he was staring at another girl.
“Well, I was thinking maybe we could go to the dance together. If you aren’t doing anything.”
He looked over at me, his long bands spilling over into his eyes. His face was full of freckles and his mouth was slightly crooked but his lips were full and soft. I hated to say no, even if he was a geeky zoid zombie.
“Yes, I would like it!” I smiled.
“It’s a date then. I will pick you up at seven. My Dad is driving us. I don’t drive yet. I turn sixteen next month.”
Ben got up and dumped his lunch into the garbage can. I felt sad at the loss of opportunity but excited that I had been asked out. Someone had noticed me!Boy! Were my parents ever going to be surprised when Paul showed up at our house to take me to the dance!
I had to practically claw my way out of Mark’s Porsche to get away from him. He wanted to come upstairs to my apartment. I was not into it.
“Thanks Mark. Was really great seeing you again.”
“Are you serious? You’re not inviting me up? Come on baby, it’s been too long….” His face was contorting into weird contortions..
“No, I’m tired and I have an early day tomorrow. I got a photo shoot midtown.”
“Yeah, alright sweets. Goodnight. Give Daddy one big kiss.”
I gave him a kiss on the lips, a fleeting kiss. I didn’t know how much more rejection he could take. I guess he just wanted a pretty trophy wife to complete his status as a player. It wasn’t going to be me.
I opened the door to the apartment and turned on the little lamp on the table. I loved this place. It had all my pictures from my trips around the world, friends, and family. I loved New York.
I wondered what would become of my life when this was over, what would I do? I hadn’t really given the future much thought. I was so caught up in the moment, in the fast, crazy lifestyle I had.
My head must have just touched the pillow and I fell asleep. It was a deep, relaxing sleep. Then a car siren went off outside the window and I woke up, remembering I had not washed my face yet and done a cucumber treatment.
I opened the refrigerator and got a glass of chardonnay. I sipped some and turned on the TV. There was a show about Andy Warhol on, his days in New York. I wished that I had known him; he seemed like such a cool artist. I cut some cucumbers and put them under my eyes and lay back on the sofa for ten minutes, then I rinsed off my face and moisturized it and went back to bed. Goodnight New York.
The next morning I rushed out the door to the gig. I flagged down a cab and headed over to the studios on east 54th Street. The building was an old limestone brownstone, with ornate fences and a massive gate in front. They buzzed me through the gate and I entered into the foyer, where Camille the co-ordinator was waiting.
“Oh, thank God you’re here. The client is so damn nervous. I am just a wreck.”
My hair was in a ponytail, I had not a stitch of makeup on and I felt anything but the high paid model I was supposed to be.
“Come on, let me get you to wardrobe and makeup.”
She let me into a white walled room with wooden floors. I sat my bag down on a counter and stared in the mirror. The make up man came in and stared to work his magic on my face. Foundation, mascara, lip-gloss, eyeliner. My face took on a new life and I just sat there, letting them “do” me.
Camilla came in. “Alright, we’re ready to shoot. Are you ready?”
I walked into the studio. There was a large white sike on the floor and up the walls. The client was there, scrutinizing every move. I tuned out everything and gave my attention to the photographer.
“Give us a smile Kennedy…Shake your hair…..So sexy….” The camera clicked away.
It was just another day of work to me and I felt great. I felt it happening. I wanted some wine to take the edge off, but that could wait. The client was pleased. The shoot had gone well.
After the shoot the client came over to meet me. Her name was Natalie Halbauer and she owned a luggage company.
“Thanks for doing a great job.” She said
“It was great. I love your product.”
“I’ll make sure you get a set.”
“I could use it. I am constantly traveling.”
It was true. I would be on the road again tomorrow to Prague…
The week came and went and it was Friday night. I was in the bathroom getting ready for my date. I took a shower and shaved my legs with Dad’s new razor. He would be pissed if he noticed it was gone. But I needed smooth and silky legs. I conditioned my hair with Silkience and sprayed on a body spray after my shower to smell extra fresh for my big date.
I thought about Paul. I liked Paul, as a friend. He was too weird to think of as a boyfriend, he was so geeky and nerdy. I thought of Ben, he was such a hunk. He would be at the dance I guessed, maybe with someone else. But who? I wondered. I wondered if he knew that I liked him and if he would be jealous when he saw me with Paul?
I slipped my dress on. It was a bit tight. I sucked in my stomach and put my nylons and shoes on. I wasn’t used to wearing high heels and I was very wobbly. I hoped that I wouldn’t trip and make a fool out of myself.
I could hear my parents downstairs. They were making dinner. I could smell mushrooms on the stove and steaks on the grill. I guessed that they would want me to eat before the dance but I was too nervous to think about food, all I could think about was the dance and what would happen after the dance, would Paul try to make out with me because I was his date?
I pushed the thought out of my mind. That was gross!
“Melanie! Are you coming?” It was my mother.
“No Mom, I’m getting ready!”
“Melanie, you have to eat. Come down now dear.” It was my Dad.
I headed down the stairs in my high shoes. Dad let out a whistle.
I gave him the finger.
“Look at that dress.”
“Do you like it?”
“Yup, very classy. Are you sure you’re allowed to wear that to the dance?”
“Of course Dad, all the girls dress up in dresses like this”
“It’s just…So grown up and short.”
“Sit down, eat your steak.” My mother was always telling me what to do. Why did they treat me like I was four years old?
“I don’t want my stomach to bulge out.”
“It won’t, now eat.”
“So, who exactly is this boy who is taking you to the dance?”
“Paul Parks. He’s a nerd.”
“That’s not a nice thing to say!”
“It’s true. He’s probably a genius. He wasn’t my first choice.”
“But he asked you right? So you were chosen by him?”
“He sits beside me in science.”
“Is he from a good family?” My mother wanted to know.
“I don’t know. His Dad is picking me up and bringing us home. I guess you’ll get to meet his Dad and see for yourselves. I’m sure he’s fine. I think he told me he was an insurance salesman or something. He’s not a mobster.”
“Well then at least if you get into an accident you are covered.”
“Oh Chris, that’s a terrible thought.” My Mom, always worrying.
I ate my steak quickly. I wanted to check my makeup again but the doorbell rang. It was Paul. I still had food in my mouth. I opened the door and he was standing there wearing black pants and a white shirt and a black jacket. He had a bunch of flowers in one hand.
“These are for you.” He handed me the flowers. I laid them on a table. How sweet!
“Thank you! Thanks a lot…..”
My mother looked like she was going to cry. Don’t cry, don’t cry. Don’t get overly emotional now mom, don’t embarrass me in front of my date.
“Dad, Mom, this is Paul Parks.”
He shook hands with both of them.
“And I am Mr Parks.” Pauls’ Dad was there beside him. His Dad was a burly looking man with a beard and glasses.
“Well, kids, we better be going now. Don’t want to miss the first dance.”
“Bye Mom, bye Dad.” I blew them a kiss.
This time it was my turn to shed a tear. I felt as though I had turned a new corner in my life. I got in the car and watched the house disappear as we pulled away. Paul was beside me and looked nervous, more nervous than he ever had in school. He smiled at me with his crooked mouth. I smiled back. He was such a nerd!