Prague was magnificent…Outrageous architecture and old, lovely streets made of cobblestones. We were due to have the photo shoot in front of an old church. I was dressed up as a vampire bride and my bridegroom was an equally attractive bloodsucker in a vintage tuxedo.
“Kennedy, we need you over here for some close ups.”
I had a pounding headache for some reason. It started on the flight. I was reading my on flight magazine when it started, then the pressure got to me and the air vent was blowing on my face. I hoped that I wasn’t catching a cold. Colds were death to models, who needed a red nosed Rudolph on the cover of Vanity Fair?
There was a party after the shoot. It was at the hotel in one of the suites. When I got there things were already in full swing, cocaine was on the table, red wine bottles were cracked open and the general atmosphere was laid back and unpretentious.
There were some Czech models there, young girls, not more than sixteen, laying around the sofas, posed and open to prey. The prey was there, clients and crew. Nobody dared touch me. I was off limits.
I poured a glass of red. It had been a long day and the headache was still pounding.
“You make a great bride.” It was the groom vampire.
“I vant to suck your blood.”
“Go ahead, make my day.”
I liked him. He was cool, American obviously by his accent.
“You based in Los Angeles?”
“New York is where I call home.”
“Yeah, I dig NYC, but I get more acting jobs in Los Angeles.”
“Oh, you’re an actor also?”
“I try. Been in a few small films.”
“Great! I’ve never acted so far in my career.”
“You should try it, you’re fucking awesome girl!”
“Thanks. I’ve been thinking what to do with myself if I ever retire.”
“You might be retired at twenty-five.”
“Oh for sure. Totally. I’ll be ready for the retirement home by then.”
“Hence the acting. You can act until you’re sixty. Look at Meryl Streep.”
“If I could act like Meryl Streep I’d be really lucky.”
“She’s excellent, loved her in Bridges.”
“Yes, Bridges of Madison County….What a great film.”
Just then a young, beautiful girl put her arms around him.
“This is Petra, my tour guide.”
“See you again.”
Kennedy slunk down on a sofa and drank some more wine. One of the models was doing heroin. I watched and winced. It was common in the industry. Many of the models didn’t want to gain weight and they wanted to be out of it. Heroin gave them the best of both worlds. Escapism. I wasn’t into that shit.
Music pounded. Paul held my hand and led me onto the dance floor. It was a sea of young bodies, moving to the beat. Paul danced like a nerd too. But then again, so did I. We were two nerds dancing together. No one cared.
I looked around the dance floor for Ben. He was not there. Some nervous parents huddled together, cradling cold diet sodas in a corner. Paul’s’ Dad split fast. Smart man. I looked around, all the “cool” girls were there with their dates, dressed to the nines in fragile stilettos and mini dresses, hair perfect and their lip gloss sparkling in the reflection of the spinning disco ball.
One of the girls snickered when we danced by. It was Annette from English class.
“Nice dress Melanie, you look swell Mel.”
“Thanks.” I muttered. It wasn’t easy not having any good girlfriends at school. I didn’t want any fights tonight, especially not the kind of catty fights that silly schoolgirls are prone to.
The music ended and we took a break to get some fruity punch.
“Great dance.” He said
“Thanks for being my date.”
“Oh, you’re welcome. I’m glad you asked me.”
“I took my chances.” He smiled at me
“So, what patents do you already have?” I asked
“I’ve got a design for an Endoscopic Bite Block System and a Spray Chamber Valve System.
“Wow. Cool. I don’t think I could ever come up with anything to patent.”
“You could do it Mel.”
“Thanks for believing in me.”
“We could work on something together.”
“You mean…Outside of science class?”
“Yeah, sure. It would be cool.”
“Come on, let’s dance.”
The band was playing retro eighties music, “My Sharona” and “Take a Walk on the Wild Side.”
The band then took a break and the disco ball was spinning again and a DJ came on.
“Girls and guys of Lakeside High, its time to grab your partner and get close, real, real close…You know what I’m talking about. Cause I got some Led Zeppelin for ya’s.”
He played, “Stairway to Heaven”. Paul grabbed me and steered me unto the dance floor. He put his arms around me. I sucked in my chest. He was pressing hard against me. “And she’s buying a stairway to heaven….”
He tilted up my face and kissed me. Wow. I couldn’t believe what was happening. He was kissing me harder and harder, and somehow his tongue came into my mouth. It was rough and soft at the same time. I pulled away.
“Mel? Are you alright?” he asked
“Yeah, its just…nothing.”
I had never been kissed before. I felt as though everyone was watching me. We danced some more. He let up a little. I could feel him growing hard against me. It was all happening too fast! He sure was aggressive for a nerd!
The music played and we sat down. I looked over at him. He looked deep in thought even while he was having a good time. He was a genius, no doubt. Did this mean he wanted me to be his girlfriend? I would have to think about it. What about Ben?
Just then Ben walked by and stopped in front of us. He was so gorgeous. I could see his lips were moving but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. Paul pushed me to get up.
“He wants to have a dance with you Mel.” Paul said
“Really? Me? Is that ok?”
“Sure. I’ll take a break.”
Ben grabbed my arm and led me to the dance floor. He was smooth and did some disco moves on me, twirling and twisting me around. It was totally a different experience than dancing with Paul. I looked over at Paul. He was pretending to be cool, but I could tell he was getting a bit jealous.
I was dancing with Ben. It was a dream come true.
“I like your dress” he said.
It was like being the dancing queen in an Abba song. The dance ended and Ben returned me to Paul. Paul immediately put his arm around me in a possessive fashion.
The dance was over and we were standing around waiting for Paul’s’ Dad to show up and drive us home. It was a slightly chilly night and there were a million stars out tonight. Paul had a faraway look in his eyes as he gazed at the stars.
“Lets talk about a patent over the weekend. I mean, if it’s cool to call you and stuff.”
“Of course, we’ll talk.”
I had no idea in my head of any patent. I didn’t really know what he was talking about, but I did know that I had been kissed and it wasn’t half bad, even by a nerd.
I was backstage at the new exit collection in New York. My hair was being teased by a stylist and sparkly powder was being applied to my face. It was a huge night for fashion; all of the press would be there to photograph the spring collection.
I walked out on the catwalk, my head held high, my legs moving fluidly. I felt confident, even though I was wrecked inside. I had finally dumped Mark over the phone and he had argued with me, but I knew it was over, why prolong the fucking agony any longer. I was not ready to be a suburban housewife yet.
The photographers were out in droves, capturing every detail, every square inch of my body and my face. It felt like I was naked, like their lenses could see through my soul. I knew that I was beautiful on the outside, but inside I was a tormented, twisted, tortured woman. Where was the love of my life? I hadn’t let him in. I was too tough, too guarded, too mistrusting, too cynical and too wrapped up in my own world. I guess maybe I was a bad person. I don’t know.
I knew that soon I’d have to let someone in, but then that meant opening myself up to hurt and that was something I was afraid of. I’d become so tough and crusty at twenty-one. But if the right man came along….Could I just let go and relax for once in my life?
I imagined leisurely mornings of breakfast in bed in some quaint little bed and breakfast in Italy or Spain…Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Then all of a sudden I was jolted back to reality, back on the catwalk under scrutinizing eyes. Eyes that wanted to be me, eyes that wanted to undress me…It wasn’t about the clothes, it was about sex. Sex was powerful and being a beautiful woman you learned that sex was also a weapon and a bargaining tool. But I didn’t want to bargain any longer. I just wanted to be loved.
The headlights in the driveway waited until I turned the key in the door. It was midnight and my folks were up waiting for me. Damn!
“Hi Mom, hi Dad.”
“Princess how was the dance?”
“That’s it? Just great?”
“Paul was a great dancer.” I lied. He was a nerd and I knew it. But I liked him and he had been a total gentleman in the car and held my hand all the way home.
“Well, goodnight.” I didn’t feel like being questioned by my parents tonight, the night of my first kiss. I wanted to continue to feel all grown up , not four years old all the time.
“Goodnight Mel -Mel.”
I turned the light on in my room. It was my sanctuary, my little world. I jumped on the computer and went on Facebook. There were some pics posted from the party already. I searched for one of Paul and me. I found one of Ben and me! Oh God, I looked terrible!
I took off my shoes, because my feet hurt and put my dress on the chair. Tonight I had been kissed and life was going to be different now, I could tell.
Paul called me the next morning.
“I think we did alright at the dance”
“I would say so.”
“I hope that you didn’t mind the kiss. That might have been a bit fast.”
“No, I don’t mind it, but it was my first kiss.”
“Hmnnn. I would like a second try.”
Men, was it true they only had sex on their brain?
“So about the patent….”
“Your patent, the one we are going to invent.”
“Paul, I am not a genius like you.”
“Anyone can think of an idea.”
“Graphene. It’s thin, it’s light, it has conductivity..”
“Can it be a computer?”
“A bendable computer or images?”
I looked over at my party dress and thought that I would probably never wear it again. Then I thought, what if I could scan it, change the color and pattern on it just by the touch of a button? If the fibers of the dress were made out of graphene, the whole dress would become sort of a bendable computer with the power to show any image on it. It would change the way fashion was done forever.
“I think I have an idea.”
“Okay, draft it up and we’ll meet in science Monday.”
I spent the rest of Sunday working on my idea. It stared to come to me out of nowhere. Maybe the idea was influenced by “her.” She was inside me after all.
Futuristic clothes. Clothes that were made from fibers so thin, clothing that could be scanned and programmed by the touch of a button, instead of having ten sweaters in different colors you would just have one that could become any color. If you wanted a butterfly on your dress or a logo or a flower you just added it.
I designed a scanner remote and a line of simplistic clothing. I took my notebook and jammed it into my backpack.
The Ferrari whizzed down the mountainside dangerously swerving around jagged corners. I look over at the very handsome driver, Antonello. He is the owner of a vineyard in Italy.
I met him at a fashion show.
“Beautiful Ragettza, I want to show you my grapes.”
I was ready. Here I was, being whisked away by a seductive stranger in a strange land. Life changed quickly for me. But this time something told me that Life might just slow down a bit, maybe I could relax here, be away from everything for a while.
We arrive at Villa Rustica, a large compound made from pink clay bricks. Cypress trees are everywhere and we follow a path to the front door.
“Come in beauty.”
The interior was a rustic as the exterior with wooden beams and travertine floors and velvet sofas.
“Sit down please…Let me get you some wine…You will love it.”
I studied a bronze sculpture. He came back, carrying two glasses of homemade wine.
“Cheers, as you say in America.”
The wine was excellent. He leaned over and gave me a slow kiss. His lips were soft and warm. I felt as though I was home. And maybe I was…..
I walked down the hallway to science class. Ben passed me in the hallway but did not say hi, he just stared ahead. I didn’t care, I was excited about my idea, my new invention.
Paul was sitting at his desk, reading notes. There was a sub today, so we were allowed to talk amongst ourselves during class.
“Lay it on me.” Paul said. He closed his eyes and leaned back.
“Chameleon Clothing is smart clothing made from graphene fibers. It’s the latest technology to bring your closet up to speed. With a wide spectrum of interchangeable colors and patterns your wardrobe size is unlimited. Change colors, add logos, add patterns and textures to one garment. The garment is made from graphene fibers which allow change to happen.” I looked up at him from reading my notes. His smile got wide, real wide.
“Do you like it?”
“I think it has a lot of potential. The smart clothing industry is in its early stages. I believe that Nike has some patents brewing, some running shoes with sensors and such.”
“I was thinking a bit more high fashion, you know Calvin Klein, Gucci, Channel, Hermes.”
“I love it. I’ll design the color scanner for you, the software that changes everything.”
“Oh Paul! You are such a genius!”
“Maybe I’ll get a kiss later.”
“ I’ll get my dad to talk to the patent attorney right away, we have to act fast and protect this idea.”
“Alright….I don’t have any money.”
“We’re partners right? You came up with the idea, my old man has got the cash to nurture it.”
“I am so excited!”
“Lets get this thing documented….”
Mark was right. I was now twenty-five and my modeling career had come to an end. I fell in love with Antonello and I am pregnant, living with him on his farm in Italy. Every day I go to the barn and talk to chickens, make pasta and grow grapes. I am happy though, so fullfilled. I can hardly remember my modelling heydays. I am just glad that I had made it out alive and am in a good mental state.
Chameleon was patented and in four years grew to be one of the hottest newcomer “inventions” to the fashion world. Designers went nuts with technology and the average consumer became designers on their own, with the help of Pauls’ smart scanner app.
Paul and I were a couple now and soon we’d be heading off to college. I still think he’s a nerd. By the way, I dropped about fifty pounds of baby fat and now I’ve become a bit more like “Kennedy”. I’m no supermodel though, just a nerdy young woman on the way to building her fortune in this crazy tech world we live in.