Fandom: The Devil Wears Prada
Characters: Cassidy, Andy, Miranda
Summary: Cassidy is burdened by a heavy secret, and she’s afraid to talk to her mother about it. She decides to confide in Andy, because she knows her to be trustworthy – unaware of the fact that other people have secrets, too, and the question is: who is going to be the first one to break the silence?
Word count: 2 582
Notes: This is written for a prompt given by pure_ecstasy6. I’m sorry it took me so long to write, and I hope you’ll like it.
I was sitting in the stairs, waiting for my mother and Andy to finally come out of the dining room.
And there they were. My mother laughed out loud at something Andy had said, and I liked to hear that. She was always so wrapped up in work that she didn’t have time to laugh like that very often, or so it seemed. Maybe she just didn’t find that much to laugh about.
Sometimes, thinking about my mother that way made me sad, but not any more. Andy was a good friend to her, and I was grateful to her for that.
“Hey, Andy…” I said, just as she took a step closer to mom, as if to hug her goodbye.
Both of them looked like they were about to jump out of their skin at the sound of my voice.
“Cassidy! What are you doing up? Don’t you have school tomorrow?”
There was no smile on mom’s face anymore.
“Yes”, I nodded, “but I wanted to talk to Andy about something.”
Andy was about to answer, but my mother cut her off.
“Surely that can wait.”
She had that tone of voice that meant ‘that’s all; end of discussion; I don’t want to hear another word’, but I thought that she was totally overreacting. It wasn’t even that late, and I really needed to talk to Andy, so I spoke up to her and insisted that it couldn’t wait.
Andy looked at her as if she was trying to speak to her with her eyes.
“I don’t mind, I can stay and talk to her if that’s okay with you.”
“Fine”, mom said, “Cassidy, if you want to fall asleep in school tomorrow, that’s up to you.”
I knew that it would probably have been better to call Andy at work, but I figured it wouldn’t have made much difference in the long run. If my mother found out I had been seeing Andy on my own, she would probably ask me a lot more questions.
I took Andy upstairs to my room. She was probably surprised and curious, because this wasn’t exactly my normal behaviour, but she didn’t say anything before the door was closed behind us.
“So, I guess this isn’t about a science project, huh?”
It was the first time she was in my room, and she looked around as she sat down on the chair in front of my desk. She turned and faced me with a hint of a smile, looking curious and kind.
“No”, I said, sitting on my bed, “haven’t you noticed that I’m doing my own homework now?”
When Andy disappeared after that apparently disastrous trip to Paris a couple of years ago – we never dared to ask mom exactly what happened – I stopped asking anyone for help. I mean, as the daughters of Miranda Priestly, we could ask the assistants to do anything, but it became clear to both Caroline and me that no one else was quite like Andy. They were just another ‘Emily’, and as easy as it was to make fun of them, it wasn’t fun anymore.
“I’m sorry we were so mean to you when we were younger”, I said.
I remembered the first time we met Andy, when we had made her walk in on mom and Stephen having a fight. We almost expected her to die and disappear after that, but she seemed to be different from the others, and she kept coming back.
I truly was sorry, but Andy looked surprised.
“It’s okay”, she said, “I mean, you were terrible, but you were just kids, and even kids need to take their frustration out on someone. You kind of reminded me of Jane and Michael Banks.”
I laughed, and remembered the movie about the children with a mother too busy with the suffragette movement to notice them, and an even more distant father who worked in a bank, and they caused every nanny who set foot in their house to have a nervous breakdown and leave screaming. Had we really been like that, Caroline and me?
“In that case I suppose you’re Mary Poppins”, I said.
“Yeah, well, I did manage to get you that Harry Potter book, didn’t I? What was that if not some kind of magic?”
I nodded. She didn’t burst out into song and make people fly and animals talk – at least not as far as I knew – but we realized later that just like Mary Poppins, she had changed the atmosphere in our home. Of course, we didn’t see that at once. When she disappeared from our life, mom had to deal with that ugly divorce from Stephen, and we thought that it was only natural that she was quiet, moody and even more wrapped up in work than ever. It wasn’t until about a year ago or something, when Andy showed up again, that I realized that just as Caroline and I had learned to like her, so had our mother.
“You were probably a good assistant at Runway”, I said, “but I think it’s better for everyone that you’re a successful reporter and mom’s friend instead.”
“Thank you, Cassidy… but is this really what you wanted to talk to me about?”
No. Of course not. It was just that I was beginning to get cold feet. Should I really tell her? What if she went straight to mom and told her about it? What if she wasn’t so understanding and open-minded as I imagined her to be based on her articles and my general knowledge of her?
But I knew I had to talk to someone, and that’s why I had decided not to call her and arrange a meeting, but talk to her at home where I couldn’t escape once I had started it. And I had started it. My heart was racing fast and I was beginning to sweat. My legs would have trembled if I had been standing.
I swallowed hard.
“Some people hit me in school today.”
“What?!” Andy stared at me. “Cassidy, that’s terrible. What for? Why didn’t you tell Miranda? Nobody’s got the right to beat you up and get away with it, not for anything in the world.”
“No!” I cried, “don’t say anything to her! I don’t want her to know, and if you tell her, I’ll say that it’s a lie and that I only wanted to talk to you about a boy.”
“Sch”, she said, “take it easy… I promise I won’t say anything to anyone behind your back. Tell me what happened.”
She looked at me with her big eyes; worried, honest. I wanted to trust her, but could I?
Andy came over to the bed and sat down beside me.
“Hey”, she said quietly, “I promise I won’t overreact. Talk to me, Cassidy. What did they do to you?”
“There is this girl”, I started hesitatingly, “and she hates me…”
Andy nodded silently, and I continued, I tried to stop my voice from trembling.
“I mean, she had never liked me, but we just avoid each other… but now, because of this, this thing, she feels she’s got a reason to hate me, and today, she and a friend of hers saw me coming. They started whispering, and then she called her boyfriend over, and I couldn’t turn around because I had to go that way… I wasn’t even scared, not then, just annoyed…”
Telling Andy about it was like going through it all again. I could hear their voices, see their faces. I could smell the school; the walls and the lockers and the people and the hair spray and the chewing gums, I could hear the loud whispers.
Andy took my hand, and only then did I realize that I was shaking.
“Oh Cassidy”, she whispered, “school can be like hell sometimes… Has this happened a lot?”
I shook my head.
“No, not like this. This was the first time… When I came closer, they started talking to me. They… said things to me, and they started pushing me… I talked back of course; I don’t take shit from people just like that, I’ve never been bullied…”
“Bad things can happen to really strong people too, you know”, Andy said. “And you’re right, you shouldn’t take shit from people. It’s good that you’re telling me this.”
Her voice was comforting. I started to trust my decision to tell her.
“They pushed me”, I said, “the boyfriend and his friend, and I was on the floor. People were coming and I was expecting them to stop, but they didn’t. The other kids who came just passed me by, but a couple of them stayed, and ‘joined the fun’, so to speak. They started kicking me. The boys. They kicked me, I’ve got big bruises on my hips and legs and my arms, and the girls just laughed. A few more girls were looking, I don’t know how many they were, and it really hurt, and I was scared, and then I screamed.”
“But Cassidy”, Andy said, “where were the teachers? The grownups in school…”
“The grownups”, I interrupted, “never see anything. It’s not always their fault; the kids that do these things, they have a sixth sense or something, they always stop before someone sees them.”
“Yeah”, Andy murmured, “that’s school… But why didn’t you tell anyone later?”
“I told you, I don’t want mom to find out. And you promised not to say anything, remember?”
She nodded and sighed.
“Yes, but… but why don’t you want her to find out? It’s not your fault that you were assaulted, Cassidy! I mean, even if you did something to provoke them, they’ve got no right to beat you up. That’s why we have laws in this country, Cassidy, people can’t just do whatever they want just because they’re pissed about something…”
“I know!” I felt tears coming to my eyes. I knew Andy was right, but it wasn’t about that.
“I know that it was not my fault, and I didn’t do anything to them, it’s just that… they did it because I’m gay.”
There. I said it. And as I said it, I realized that it was the first time: I had never said ‘I’m gay before.’ I had thought about it, and I knew that it was true, but I had never actually said it out loud. Not even to Caroline. She knew, of course, but we didn’t always need so many words when we talked about things.
And now Andy knew, too.
She looked like she didn’t know if she could believe me or not. She had a funny look on her face, as if it all suddenly became too much for her to handle, and that made me scared.
“It’s true”, I said, “and no matter what anybody say or does I’m not ashamed of it.”
“Of course not!”, Andy suddenly regained her speaking ability. “You should never be ashamed of it, and you know what, that makes what those kids did to you even worse. It’s homophobia, it was a hate crime…”
Oh, I had made her really upset. Her face was all flushed, she got tears of anger in her eyes and she squeezed my hand so hard it hurt, and I had to pull my hand away.
“We need to do something about this”, she said.
“No, we can’t do anything about it.”
“Why, are you afraid it will make it worse?”
“No”, I said, “I’ll avoid them from now on and make sure I stay close to my friends until they get over it.”
“But”, Andy shook her head in disbelief, “what if it happens again?”
“Look, if it does, we’ll deal with it then, okay? I just wanted to tell someone about it, Andy. Someone who isn’t my mother.”
Andy shook her head again and ran her fingers through her hair in a frustrated gesture, and she almost looked like she was going to laugh.
“So you like girls, huh? That doesn’t have to be a problem, does it? I don’t understand why you don’t want Miranda to know you’re gay.”
“But you know what she’s like!”
I stared at Andy and begged her silently that she had to understand. I knew that if I told mom that I’m gay and she didn’t like it, she would just act like I had never said it. She would ignore it, and that would be like ignoring me, like I didn’t exist at all. I knew that mom was so used to having things her way that she would think she could just order me not to be gay. ‘My daughter is not a lesbian. That’s all.’ I knew what she looked like when she was disappointed in someone or angry. Yes, I was her child and not an assistant, but… no, I did not want to have her looking at me like that.
“True”, Andy said carefully, “I know what she’s like, but Cassidy, she’s not what you think, she’s – I mean… She won’t disown you or anything, I swear.”
Andy bit her lip and looked troubled. I didn’t believe her.
“You can’t swear”, I said. “You can’t know how she will react when she finds out.”
“No”, I said, “you can’t. And that’s why I’m going to wait. I’m not coming out of the closet, it’s enough that half the school knows. I’ll tell mom when I have a girlfriend; then it will be an indisputable fact and she’ll have to deal with it. I don’t want her to know yet.”
“But if you don’t have a girlfriend, how can they know that you’re gay?”
Andy looked relieved when she could talk about something else than my mother.
“Because we have been writing poems in English class”, I started to explain, “and this is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately – how I feel, I mean – so I wanted to write about it… Because our teacher said that we didn’t have to read our poems to the class if we didn’t want to. So nobody should now, except her but she doesn’t really count because she’s a really nice person and I don’t mind if she knows…”
“You’re not saying that your teacher betrayed your trust and told people?”
Andy looked shocked and I shook my head.
“No, no. But for some reason, someone stole her briefcase from the teachers’ room, and my name was on that rather obvious poem…”
“Oh… oh, my God. I can’t believe people… why would they do something like that?”
I shrugged my shoulders. I had no idea who did it and I didn’t care; it was done and I was outed, without having spoken one single word.
“What about your friends, then?”
“No problem; they’re okay with it. At least I think so. I haven’t really talked much about it yet. I’ve felt like… like it was my own secret, too new to share with anyone. But now they all think… I don’t know what they think, but… I think they are okay with it. It’s not my friends I’m worried about.”
No, my friends were not a problem. And I realized that now that I had talked to Andy, I felt much better and didn’t worry so much anymore about anything. I made her swear one more time that she was not going to tell anyone, and with that, she said goodnight and left me.
ETA: Part two: http://amles80.livejournal.com/18673.html