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Life at Putnam University

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"There is no way I'm letting you go on that date. No. Nuh uh, no. It's a bad idea!"

Ugh. Olive knew it had been a mistake telling Logainne her evening plans. During the three semesters they had been roommates, she had proven herself to be uptight and opinionated, which was all very well and good when it had nothing to do with Olive's personal life.

She scoffed and continued looking for her eyeliner. "It's a date, Schwartz. We're not getting married. He seems sweet and he's a nice guy."

"Charlito Tolentino? We're talking about the same person, right?" A lisp crept back into her voice. "Believe me, Olive, I know this guy, and not for any good reasons."

"One date. It's one date. That's all I promised." She gave up on finding her eyeliner and picked up her purse.

"That's what every girl promises him, and they've all ended up in his bed. I don't want you to be just one more notch on the bedpost! If you really want a guy from the pre-law track, for whatever reason, I could find you a better one! Just not him. Not the guy who sleeps around and doesn't commit. I hear the gossip, I know the news, I'm well aware of what happens. Girls don't stay in his life. I don't want to see you get hurt like this."

She softened. Logainne really did care, as she was well aware, but the worry in her voice was convincing. "I'll tell him it's just this date. Dinner and nothing else. You and I can hit the town afterwards, just to make sure I don't do anything stupid. Meet me at the ice cream shop at eight?"

"Okay. If you won't call it off, that'll work."

Olive's phone buzzed.

[CHIP]: would we be able to reschedule? I realized I have a paper due tomorrow that I should proooobably get done

She laughed. Logainne gave her a look. Olive sighed and showed her the message.

"He can't do tonight. Ladies night?"

Logainne let out a sigh of relief. "You've been spared, praise the Lord. I'd love that."

[OLIVE]: lol that's fine
[OLIVE]: tomorrow, same time?
[CHIP]: could we do a Saturday? Thursdays are a bad time for me
[OLIVE]: yeah! see you then
[CHIP]: can't wait! sorry again for bailing :(

"I heard about this clothing store by that one sandwich shop you like. Apparently all the stuff there is handmade and the owner can tailor it to fit in-store!"

"So that's our destination?" Olive asked.

"I always verify gossip," she said.

-------

Olive really didn't know what to expect, as Logainne's drive to confirm all gossip she heard had led them to both great and terrible things in the past. Logainne had insisted on driving. The campus was on the edge of a nice little town, full of pretty, antiquated architecture and a heavy concentration of local businesses. The storefront looked like many others, with a faded wooden door and a large display window. A mesh body form displayed a plain brown dress with a patchwork vest that, somehow, actually looked nice. Logainne, determined to find out what was lying in store, pushed the door open.

The room was surprisingly spacious. Racks lined the walls, and the clothes hanging on them were organized by color and type. She saw the descending lines of tops, skirts, pants, and dresses.

"I like this place already," Logainne whispered.

Down the center was a display of fabric swatches. Curious, Olive approached it and felt a small square of green fabric. It was velvety to the touch. Logainne stood next to her, flipping through a photo album next to the display. "No way," she murmured in disbelief. Olive glanced over to see what she was looking at.

A woman wore a black and white medieval-style dress. It looked beautifully made, and it seemed to exist in stark contrast with the dress in the window. Olive turned the page to reveal a man modeling a navy suit jacket with matching pants. "These are handmade?" She wondered aloud.

"Yeah! I think that was a request last.... April? I've got some more recent stuff if you flip to the back of the album!"

Olive jolted and took a step back, bumping into the person behind her. She stumbled forward into the table as they stepped to the side. "Sorry!" She said, turning to see who she was talking to.

"You're fine! I'm clumsy too." A tall ginger guy grinned down at her. "Leaf Coneybear! I'm one of the owners. I do the sewing!" He thrust his hand out for a handshake, which Olive timidly accepted. His enthusiasm was overwhelming.

"Olive Ostrovsky," she managed.

"Nice to meet you!" His handshake wasn't particularly strong, but he shook hands with enough energy to make up for it. He turned to Logainne. "And you are?"

"Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre. Who are the other owners?" They shook hands.

"Uh, there's just one. My sister Marigold manages the business side of things." He shrugged. "I don't understand that stuff, so she takes care of it."

She nodded. "If you don't mind, I'd like to ask some questions about your business. I occasionally write articles for our paper on campus, and I think your store is worth writing about."

He grinned. "Really? Yeah, that'd be great! Lemme get Mari, cause she knows more than me." He ran through the doorway at the back of store. Olive continued to flip through the album while Logainne pulled up a recorder on her phone.

"I guess I'll browse while you interview? Are you going to actually write an article?"

"Of course! I'm considering this a gossip success. I'm big on shopping local and businesses like these are important for a healthy economy."

Olive laughed. "And you're sure you're a pre-law person? You sound like you belong on the econ track."

"I believe in being a well-rounded individual. My dads always told me that an informed voter is unstoppable."

"You really took their advice to heart." She flipped the page and looked over the delicate wedding dress shown. "God, this is absolutely gorgeous. I still can't believe this guy sews like this."

"He's friendly, and it feels like more than customer service politeness," Logainne noted. "That's what I love about local businesses. Owners, and by extension, employees, genuinely care about what they do and it shows."

"And now you sound like a textbook."

"I'm right, though."

"True," she conceded. Right then, Leaf returned with a similarly tall and freckled girl.

"This is my sister, Marigold. She handles all the fancy business stuff for me! Mari, this is Logan-"

"Logainne," she corrected.

"Right, thanks! Logainne. She wants to write an article for the paper at her college!"

Marigold gave her a skeptical look. "You're in college? You look fifteen, no offense."

"I'm eighteen and a sophomore on the pre-law track."

"And you write articles?"

"Yes, I'm a firm believer in civic participation. Though, my friend Olive is an English major, so I have her revise everything I write." She pulled Olive up next to her. "I heard about your shop by word of mouth, but an article would get you a lot more publicity."

"Well, if it's free," Marigold relented, losing her previous edge. "What would you like to know?"

"I- is it alright if I record the conversation? I find it more useful than trying to write everything down."

"Absolutely. If you're recording, we'll talk upstairs where it's quiet. Here, go through the doorway and up the stairs on the left." She set a hand on Logainne's shoulder and led her away. Feeling a little awkward, Olive moved to a rack on the right wall and looked through the skirts. It was only supposed to be mindless browsing, but a light pink poodle skirt caught her eye. She took it off the rack to take a closer rack.

Leaf walked over to see what she was looking at and nodded appreciatively. "I'm a big fan of vintage and retro stuff," he admitted. "I take a lot of inspiration from it." Upon closer examination, Olive realized it wasn't a poodle but a cat in the corner.

"Cat?" She asked.

He smiled and she noticed the wide gap between his front teeth. "I really like cats. But," he said, bringing himself back to a more business tone, "if there's another animal you'd prefer, I've got several designs drawn up that can replace it."

"Oh, no, I love cats," she said, admiring the skirt. Hesitantly, she asked, "Is there a dressing room here?"

"Yeah! There's one and it's not huge, but up the stairs and to the right, it'll be the right hand door." Noticing her confusion, he cheerfully added, "Here, I'll just show you!"

"Thank you." Leaf walked her to the stairs and pointed her in the right direction. There was a sign on the door that read "DRESSING ROOM" in a messy scrawl. She pushed the door open and stepped inside.

In all honestly, it was probably a renovated storage closet. Two people could fit in at the most. A cheap mirror hung on one wall and a Command hook on another, obviously to hold hangers. She slid her jeans off and examined the skirt, trying to figure out how to put it on. After determining that the waist stretched, she stepped into it and shimmied it on. It made it about halfway up her thighs. She sighed and hung it back up. Pulling her pants back on, she returned to the rack and searched for where she had found it.

"Well?" Leaf asked enthusiastically.

She shook her head. "Didn't fit."

"Oh! That's no problem." He took the skirt from her and laid it on the counter next to the register. "Where's the- found it!" Holding the tag (which was tied to the hanger) with one hand, he dug around under the counter with the other. "SK3," he murmured. Pulling out a binder, he thumbed through the pages. He scanned the page. "Okay, that pattern." He looked up at Olive. "If you want, I can take measurements and make you the skirt in your size!"

"You can? Does that cost extra?"

"No! Same cost as this one right here. It'll be done in, mmm gimme two days! Lemme grab measuring tape and I'll just need a waist and leg measurement!" He dug around under the counter again and pulled out a tape.

As he took measurements, he asked, "So your friend came here on a mission. Why'd you come along?"

"Uh, my date got rescheduled and we're having a girls night out. She's my roommate. Schwartz is big on uncovering the truth about gossip. Though," she added, "I've never seen her this excited about a place."

"Really?" He scribbled something down onto a piece of paper. "Do you guys do stuff like this a lot?"

"Whenever we have spare time." She laughed softly. "I think she keeps a list of things to investigate."

"That's cool! Wow, I didn't realize roommates could be that close! I have a friend on campus, and he and his roommate don't do anything together." He took a measurement of her leg length and stood up. "Hey, maybe you know him! Or your friend, cause he's in pre-law too. Chip Tolentino? Nice guy, my sister's ex-boyfriend."

Her eyes went wide. "No way. That's the guy that rescheduled on me! You know him?"

"Wow! That's cool! I can't believe we both know him! Yeah, they dated a few years ago. Then Mari realized she was gay and dumped him, but we're still friends!"

Her head was spinning with all of this sudden info. "This is unbelievable."

"I know!"

"Wait! You said two days for the skirt, right?"

Leaf nodded.

"We rescheduled for Saturday. I can bring him with me when I come pick it up! It'll be an extra day before I get it, but I'll be in town anyway."

"That sounds great! Do you want to be rung up now or when you get it?"

She considered it. "I'll just pay now. How much was it?"

"Thirty five." He made change as he talked. "Thank you very much! Hopefully your friend'll be done soon!"

"You've got a lot of great stuff here! I'll have to come again." Before she forgot about it, she sent a text to Chip.

[OLIVE] not to interrupt your work but could we drop by Unsewn Treasures on Saturday? I've got a thing to pick up and since you apparently know the owners I thought you'd like to come with!
[CHIP] sounds great!
[CHIP] tell Leaf I said hi!
[OLIVE] will do!

"Chip says 'hi'," she told Leaf, who grinned widely.

"Great! Well, if there's anything else-"

"OLIVE! WE HAVE TO LEAVE NOW SO I CAN WRITE!" Logainne charged down the stairs and, taking Olive by the arm, pulled her to the door. "Thankyousomuch! We'llbebacksoon!" She called back. She dragged Olive out, frantically typing on her phone. "Can you drive?"

"Yes. Where'd you park?"

"By the flower shop! C'mon, hurry! The sooner I get to a computer the better this will be!" Without looking up, she headed in the direction of the car and avoided obstacles with impeccable skill. Olive sighed and hurried after her. Oh well, she'd be back on Saturday.