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Authors: Mitchell Kriegman

Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Love & Romance

Being Audrey Hepburn

BOOK: Being Audrey Hepburn
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Being
Audrey
Hepburn

This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this novel are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.

 

THOMAS DUNNE BOOKS.

An imprint of St. Martin’s Press.

BEING AUDREY HEPBURN.
Copyright © 2014 by Mitchell Kriegman. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. For information, address St. Martin’s Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10010.

www.thomasdunnebooks.com

www.stmartins.com

Designed by Anna Gorovoy

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
(TK)
ISBN 978-1-250-00146-7 (hardcover) ISBN 978-1-250-01349-1 (e-book) St. Martin’s Griffin books may be purchased for educational, business, or promotional use. For information on bulk purchases, please contact Macmillan Corporate and Premium Sales Department at 1-800-221-7945, extension 5442, or write [email protected].

First Edition: September 2014

10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

 

DEDICATED TO VERONICA GENG

 

I want to still be me when I wake up one fine morning and have breakfast at Tiffany’s.
—HOLLY GOLIGHTLY

Being
Audrey
Hepburn

1

It all started with that little black dress.

Yeah, I mean
the
little black dress—the wickedly fabulous, classic, fashion perfection Givenchy that Audrey Hepburn wore to brilliance in the opening scene of
Breakfast at Tiffany’s.

Right in front of me was the dress dreams were made of.

“Let me try it on, please, please, please,” I begged Jess.

“No way,” she said. “I’ll get fired.”

Jess was already the special projects assistant at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, otherwise known as the Met. It was kind of a glorified grunt and gofer position but a real foot in the door at the museum, and like me she was only nineteen. That was just one of her jobs. Jess attended fashion-design school all day, worked the Met at night, and waited tables with me at “the Hole” on weekends.

Determined to design her own line of clothing before she turned twenty-five, she’d always known what she wanted to do—like the way she “came out” in tenth grade and never looked back. Considering she was an absolute genius with fabric, scissors, and a sewing machine and the most responsible, goal-oriented person on the planet, let alone anywhere near where we live in South End Montclair, New Jersey, I had no doubt she’d pull it off.

“You won’t get fired,” I pleaded and gave her my saddest, most pathetic, BFF,
puh-leese let me try on the most spectacular dress in existence
face.

“Nobody’s here but you and me. It’s the least you can do for dragging me out on a sweaty Friday night in July to sort a bunch of broken pottery fragments from the ancient Nile while all the Park Avenue princesses and baby moguls whoop it up downstairs.” We could hear the party from the main galleries below: popping corks and clinking champagne glasses, the opulent uppity classes murmuring obscene nothings to one another in their preppy Manhattan tones at another over-the-top celebutante gala.

Jess was the only person in the world besides my Nan who had any idea of what a big deal that dress was to me.
Breakfast at Tiffany’s
wasn’t just my favorite movie ever, it was my jam, my mantra, my addiction, the one thing that got me through all the crap at home.

Unless you live in a cave, I know you’ve seen it. I don’t know if anything more perfect has ever existed on film. The pearls! The tiara! That
dress
! Really, what would you give to live for one day in a world where it would be perfectly normal to wear a little tiny tiara without looking like a runner-up in the Miss Hackensack pageant?

To think that this scrawny girl who came from nothing could become a fabulous socialite with mobsters and writers and photographers and millionaires falling all over themselves for her. New York City in 1961 was cooler and more wonderful than it is today, so full of possibilities. All the men Holly knew turned out to be rats, of course. Or super-rats. Audrey was so right. There are so many super-rats out there.

“Please,” I whined. “You know how much I love that movie.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Jess. “That’s why I’m letting you
see
the dress.”

I gently lifted the dress out of its archival wrapping and held it up. I knew for a fact that Audrey Hepburn and I were almost exactly the same size, 34-20-35, although she always appeared elegant and gamine, where I tended to be more, well … scrawny and boyish. My boobs were smaller—I could maybe hit 32-20-33 if I held my breath and thought Katy Perry.

The black satin was rougher than I expected. It had a hip-length slit on the left side and was accompanied by a pair of elbow-length gloves in a tinted plastic bag pinned to the satin padded hanger inside the box.

Unbelievable.

This was the
mystery
dress that every body swore existed, but almost nobody had ever seen or touched, Givenchy’s hand-stitched original design. I wondered if the delicate smell of the fabric was something from the preservation, though I secretly hoped it was a tiny bit of leftover Audrey Hepburn perfume.

“You’re such a stalker,” Jess whispered. “Be supercareful. That’s like a million-dollar dress.”

“Actually, 923,187 dollars. The highest auction price ever received for a dress made for a film at the time. And this one might be worth even more.” I sighed and held the dream dress up to my body.

She took a deep breath and looked me in the eye.

“Okay,” she said. “Try it on. But just for a minute.”

2

If you’d told me that, while I caressed the rough satin of Audrey’s famous black dress, my life was about to change in a million unimaginable ways, I wouldn’t have believed it. Not because I didn’t believe that Audrey’s dress was magical. Or that I didn’t believe in magic. I did, desperately.

In fact, I saw magic around me all the time—in the lives of the famous people I ogled in movies and magazines and online. But magic was for those people, not me. I just couldn’t imagine how magic could even find me sitting in the gray Jersey suburbs where I’d lived my whole life.

Five hours before caressing Audrey’s precious Givenchy, I stood at ground zero of my totally unmagical life: the greasy South End diner where I waitressed, the Finer Diner, appropriately nicknamed the Hole. I was wearing “eau de short-order grill,” the smelly, sweaty perfume of a diner waitress, along with a greasy pink apron. I had just dropped two mugs of coffee and a plate of fried pickles. The zombie shift at the diner was enough to kill you, and I had just finished a double. It wasn’t like I had anything else to do.

Making my way home on 21s, one of New Jersey’s finest state highways, I thought I might fall into a coma. I turned off at the 4th Avenue exit, struggling to keep my eyes opened, and drove down Bloomfield Avenue to my house, thankful there were no cars outside.

“Hey, sis, you look like shit,” Ryan said, startling me as I stumbled through the front door. For a thirteen-year-old, he already had a sewer mouth. But considering the way Mom talked, what could you expect? He gave me a crooked grin and twirled that nasty braided mullet of his. As usual, Ryan was playing World of Warcrack, as Mom called it. The most addictive computer game ever created, where kids with no lives have names like Worgen and are always leveling up.

“Thanks a lot, Ry. Where’s Mom?” I asked.

“She went with Courtney to pick up her car. It got towed.”

“Again?” I contemplated whether to flee and crash at Jess’s house.

“How long ago?”

Car doors slamming and the rusty screech of the screen door gave me the answer—it was too late.

“You don’t know crap!” Mom yelled as she barreled through the door. “You can’t go through life without a plan.” She lit up a cig and headed for the kitchen. She wore her usual pale blue scrubs from the hospital.

“I have a plan! It’s just not
your
plan!” screamed Courtney, stomping just a few steps behind, tramping around in her furry boots wearing shredded Daisy Dukes. Her deep-scoop tank was so tight that her breasts looked like they’d pop out any second.

Ryan gazed up at me with that glazed look and went back to slaying warlocks and werewolves. A death stare from Courtney made it clear that, unless I wanted to become the equivalent of roadkill, I had better get out of there. Getting in the middle of a blowout was the last thing I wanted to do anyway. In this situation, either Mom or Courtney could train their sights on me, so I made a beeline for my bedroom.

“Where do you think you’re going?” Mom shouted. I froze. Between alcohol and cigs, her voice sounded like she had swallowed a shot glass.

“I just got off work and I smell like bacon,” I said as softly as possible. “I have to take a shower.” She turned to the cabinet and grabbed her coffee mug and went to the fridge for some ice cubes. I slinked away.

The walls in our house were so flimsy that even in my bedroom I could hear Courtney clomping across the linoleum floor and Mom rattling the ice cubes in her cup of Gordon’s.

It didn’t take much to get Mom going at Court. Toenail clippings left on the bathroom floor? A 2:30
A.M.
hookup in the driveway? The fact that my older sister was flunking out of junior college because she hadn’t attended a class? Or just another bad day of work at the hospital for Mom—all of the above could trigger Argumageddon. I did, however, know how it would end. The same way it always ended.

You would have thought Mom would have been happy she wasn’t drunk driving. I guess it didn’t help that Courtney had left her car by the side of the road in a stupor for the second time this month. The three-hundred-dollar towing fee had to hurt.

“A plan is something with a future. Responsibility. Not getting shitfaced, smoking weed with your idiot friends, and leaving your car by the side of the road,” Mom spit out downstairs. “I can’t keep saving your ass all your fucking life.”

“Nobody wants you to!” Courtney screamed.

Mom was wrong about Courtney. She
did
have a plan. Her goal was to relieve the world of all its alcohol, one Jell-O shot at a time, in Jersey City’s vast array of lowlife nightclubs, while fantasizing she would get picked next season as a finalist on
American Idol
or
The Voice
. Courtney believed she should get her own reality show—hey, everybody has that same dream, right? Once, she made up a whole new family and seriously tried to get a slot on
Mob Wives.
There just aren’t enough of those reality shows around for all of us real people to become famous.

Sometimes, it seemed like Courtney was trying to outdo Mom. See, I knew from Nan, my grandmother, that back in her day, Mom was the same as Courtney, only more so. Before MTV discovered New Jersey, Mom was drinking and cruising the seventy-five exits of the Garden State Parkway from Whippany to Seaside Heights. She practically invented shooting beers. She was like the original JWoww, before rehab became a college alternative.

The door slammed, and the vibrations echoed throughout our tiny house. The walls might as well be hospital partitions. That slam was definitely the kitchen door. I listened for the sound of Courtney’s junker starting.

Nothing. Shit. That meant get ready for round 2.

Really, in this situation, the best thing to do was to lock myself in the closet. I just needed to stay out of the line of fire; otherwise, I’d be collateral damage.

I was the middle child. Staying out of the way was my specialty. In fact, I was so out of the way, I was nowhere, but that was better than being somewhere in the middle of what was going on at home.

“You’re just mad because you’re old and you’re always going to be alone and nobody cares about you!” Courtney yelled. I guessed Court had come back inside.

There was a pause for crying until Mom finally said something that was hard to hear because it was muffled in tissues. “You have no right to talk to me that way…” And another pause. “This is my house.”

“Nobody cares!” screamed Courtney. The door slammed again, and I waited.

Inside my closet, the sounds downstairs were considerably more muffled. You probably thought I was kidding about the closet.

My closet was my haven, my panic room, my refuge. Mom usually came home from work at 4
P.M.
and got her drink on until she passed out on the couch. Once in a while, she’d get super tipsy and silly—singing old Springsteen songs. That was fun. We’d play along until she fell asleep at the kitchen table. But most of the time, she’d get all weepy, and then start hurling ashtrays. She was always angry.

BOOK: Being Audrey Hepburn
12.79Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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