Isabel Allende

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Joanie sat backstage, alone. All around her the hustle and bustle of show preparations were in full-swing. Stylists with clothing piled over their arms were racing around, orders were being shouted. It was total chaos. But in Joanie’s private corner in the stage-left wing, she was able to find a moment’s solace. Carlyle and Ruth had insisted on it. Jake had said nothing.
            Oh, why did Peter have to do that? Joanie thought. She let her head fall into her hands, careful not to smudge her make-up but not really caring if she did. It had been one of the most embarrassing moments of her life – the unbearable silence that followed her reading that damn card out loud. Why did I have to broadcast it to the world? she had cried to Ruth and Carlyle after everyone else had left to find their seats. It was awful. She ran over the sequence of events in her head once again, the look on Jake’s face when she finished reading. He had turned a bright shade of crimson, tried to produce a natural smile as he said, “Wow, you sure do have some secret admirer.” But he knew, and so did she. Joanie had taken his arm to steer him away from the crowd then, to grab a moment and try to explain, but he had quietly pulled away.
            “Listen, Joan,” he said. “We’ll talk about it later. Let’s just get through this night, okay?”
            She had nodded, in agreement and in defeat. She could feel the coolness coming from Jake, the hurt. It was at that moment Ruth came by to try to help smooth things over, but she only made matters worse.
            “Hey Jo Jo, we should get you backstage. You’ve got a show to do.” Jake had looked at Joanie with pain-filled eyes.
“I guess Jo Jo is the nickname your closest friends…your loved ones call you. Who knew?” He was sullen and broken. Joanie felt sick.
“Well, break a leg,” he had said, eyes diverted, then gave her a little kiss on the forehead and walked away.
“Joanie? Joanie, there you are.” Joanie arose from her trance and looked up to see her friend, Ruth, standing before her with a brave, supportive smile on her face.
“C’mon girl, you can do this. I know you can. Hey, things have been worse, right? Just remember, Jake adores you. He’s just hurt right now, and can’t express it. You can explain everything afterward, but he’s right. You’ve gotta get through this evening.” Joanie took a deep breath.
“You’re right, Ruthie. Of course you’re right. Since when have I let a man run my life or ruin it?”
“Since forever, but never mind. It’s never too late to change.” She gave Joanie a hug. “Now get out there and watch those girls strut your stuff.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Other than it being extremely hectic, the week passed uneventfully. Joanie, of course, was more organized than she realized. The white stitching on the navy pantsuit looked classy, and the beadwork on the emerald evening dress, chic. All her other designs; the black, zip-up Lycra pantsuit, the brown and taupe striped bomber jacket with matching stretch mini-skirt, the black sequin bolero over a flaming red strapless silk midi, were in the final stages of completion before the pre-rehearsal fitting later that afternoon. And of course the body-hugging, toffee-toned cocktail dress with layered chiffon overlay in lavender, the event favorite, was being fussed-over by Allan, Joanie’s personal design assistant, who recently came on-board to help Sara and Brandy out. All her favorite models, those who Joanie had used many times in the past, were at the ready. Hair and make-up were lined up.
Joanie took a gulp of coffee and set the mug down beside her laptop, careful to place it on a stable surface. She didn’t need a spill and computer meltdown now.
“Wow, Jo Jo, this is the first time in weeks I’ve seen you stationary, and drinking your coffee while it’s still hot.” Ruth plopped herself down in the chair beside her friend. Joanie laughed.
“And it’s the first time I’ve seen you laugh out-loud in ages too. Good lord, what’s next?”
“C’mon Ruthie, give me a break. You’d be just the same way if you were in my shoes.”
“No. I’d be worse. So, what’s the deal for tomorrow? Is Mr. Perfect bringing you down here with his driver? You know, you’re not allowed to be here until show-time. Bad luck, or something.”
“His name is Jake, and yes, he’s bringing me. We probably won’t show up till just after seven. I want to wait until the place fills up a little.”
“Good idea. Be a little mysterious.”

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


           It had been two weeks since Joanie had returned from Charleston. According to her mother, Joanie’s father was back at home and doing fine. She hadn’t heard a word from her brother Kevin or from Peter however, she had waited almost ten years to really talk to both of them, so she couldn’t be too expectant.
            Meanwhile, Jake was showering her with attention. Fresh flowers were sent to her office every other day. Ruth was delighted, since Joanie could only fit so many vases on her desk at one time. Jake, or sometimes his driver, picked Joanie up after work each evening. Knowing how important it was for a perfectionist like Joanie to get her work completed swiftly and to the highest level of quality possible, Jake gave her a lot of space to work freely in his apartment, which was where they now spent most of their time. While she fussed over dress designs and detailed sketches, Jake cooked them meal after delicious meal; seafood pasta with tomato, bocconcini and fresh basil salad, braised pork chops with caramelized onions simmered in vodka, accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus with toasted almonds, or sautéed scallops wrapped in bacon, set atop endive tossed in a light olive oil and lemon dressing. They would eat late dinners so Joanie could finish her work before having a glass of wine, which, once she indulged in, set her into such a relaxed state that no work could be accomplished afterward. But Jake was patient and understanding. He knew that once she called it a night, she was all his.    

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


Thanks to what Joanie considered a stroke of luck, Peter was called away on business that afternoon. He left without saying goodbye. Whether he really did have out-of-town business, Joanie didn’t know, or care. She was just glad he was out of the picture, and for the moment, out of her life, freeing her up to spend quality time with her dad and the rest of the family.
            Kevin was waiting in the hospital room when Joanie arrived. He looked older and thinner than she remembered him, and had dark circles under his eyes. At first glance, Joanie barely recognized him, but as soon as he saw her, his face lit-up and the old Kevin that she remembered so well, appeared.
            “Hello doll. How’s my favorite sister?” He leapt up from his chair and grabbed her in a full embrace. His smell was as familiar as ever.
            “You mean your only sister! I’m good, Kevin. And how are you? God, how long has it been now, five years?”
            “Six, but who’s counting, right?” Kevin chimed in, and they laughed.
            “I guess it’s really been about ten when you think about it,” he continued.  “Besides the two times I was passing through New York, I’ve always been MIA when you’ve come home, and that hasn’t been very often now, has it little sis?”
            Joanie blushed, ashamed that she’d been so remiss all these years, feeling like she’d let her family down, all because of some silly drama that took place years ago. But it was more than that, she realized, thinking back. It was because of Peter. It had been all along. She shuddered, the recent incident still too fresh in her mind.
            Kevin, Joanie and their mother spent the day together with Walt in his room on Ward C. He was livelier, Joanie felt, joking and laughing almost like he was back to his old self. But by evening he grew tired.
            “Well, Dad, we’re going to go out for dinner, and leave you and Mom to some alone time. We’ll be back in the morning.”
Kevin leaned over the bed and gave his father a kiss on the forehead. Joanie started to tear-up. It was such a touching sight for her to see her brother and father, who she hadn’t see together for a long time, share this moment. But she wiped her eyes, not wanting to reveal her emotion to her Father. Clearing her throat, she said.
“I’ve only got a few days here, Dad, but if you keep improving at the rate you are, you’ll get home before I do,” said Joanie encouragingly.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011


Joanie’s phone rang six times before she answered.
“Hello, is that you, Joanie?” The voice on the other end of the receiver asked.
“Yeah,” Joanie replied groggily. It was six o’clock in the morning.
“Sorry to call so early. Hope I didn’t wake you. It’s just I hadn’t heard from you. I was worried.”
Joanie was quiet, trying to get her head around who might be calling her so early, unable to identify the voice on the other end. Then it dawned on her.
“Jake? Jake, is that you?”
“Yeah, it’s me alright. Am I a complete idiot for waking you up like this?”
“Oh, no…no, not at all. It’s…it’s good to hear your voice.”
“Good to hear yours too.” There was a long pause before Jake spoke again.
“You know, I’ve been thinking a lot about you, remembering the first and, as it turns out, the only time we were together, the day I saw you off at the airport.”
“I suppose you mean that kiss.” She blurted unintentionally, as heat rose to her cheeks.
“Well, that and the great afternoon we spent together, before your bad news that is. But it’s true, that kiss has left me wanting more, I can’t deny it.”




Thank you, GB, King of collaboration!


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