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Acts of Defiance

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i.

People who didn’t know Andy Sachs very well, often believed she was a pushover. Her wide smile, sparkling eyes and eagerness fooled many into thinking she would comply with their wants and needs. Her parents, naturally, knew differently.

Case in point:

Richard and Marion Sachs spent years imagining their brilliant daughter as a trail-blazing lawyer, righting injustices and making the world a better place. They’d dreamed that one day Andy would follow Richard into his practice, before eventually branching out and surpassing everyone else’s expectations. Andy, on the other hand, had other aspirations.

Their disappointment with her decision to pursue journalism was muted. There were no recriminations about her failing to live up to her potential. After all, they had no desire to push away their only child. Instead, they filed it away and tried to ignore their belief that Andy was settling for a life less challenging.

ii.

Andy continued her act of defiance when she decided to move to New York with Nathaniel Cooper. While she seemed to believe it was the obvious next step in their relationship, her parents disagreed. He may have been a suitable college boyfriend, but he was not the man they pictured as a permanent fixture in their daughter’s life.

“I love him, and we’re going to live together.”

“Couldn’t you live with Lily instead?” Marion pleaded, placing her arm around Andy’s shoulders.

“That’s a great idea,” Richard continued. “Nathaniel can live with Doug and you can share with Lily.”

Andy sighed. “Mom. Dad. I’m old enough to make these decisions for myself. We’ve already got an apartment picked out.”

Marion and Richard exchanged glances and with their years of experience together, silently agreed on a strategy.

“Okay, honey,” Marion said, wrapping Andy in a hug. “I’m sure everything will work out fine.”

“Thanks, Mom.”

And so they supported their daughter’s choice to cohabitate with Nathaniel Cooper. It’s not that they outright disapproved of the young man. No. It was just that he seemed...inadequate in some respect. And his lack of support for her ambition was also a source of concern. Despite Andy’s protests to the contrary, they remained convinced that Nathaniel was just not ‘enough’ for their daughter.

iii.

Miranda Priestly was a name that doubled as a curse in a certain Cincinatti household. Andy emailed Richard and Marion at ridiculous hours and phone calls revealed that she was no closer to making her dreams come true.

Their feelings about Miranda and doubt about Andy’s career choices were reinforced once Richard arrived in New York for a short visit. He stood aghast at Andy’s stress and panic, unused to seeing his daughter in such a state. Try as he might, he failed to convince Andy that her boss’s demands were completely unreasonable. When he left New York he held grave concerns for her well-being.

“I just have to last one year,” Andy said the next time she called them. “Then I’ll be able to get a job at any magazine in New York.”

“The Cincinnati Post has a cadet position available.”

“Dad, I’m not coming home to work for Uncle Jack.”

“No, I suppose I wouldn’t do that either,” Richard agreed. “He’d probably be a worse boss than Miranda.”

“I doubt that,” Andy said and her laugh went some way to reducing his concern. If his daughter was able to laugh, things couldn’t be too bad. Perhaps what he’d witnessed during his visit was an aberration and Andy’s tales of work were just the product of a writer’s mind needing a creative output.

“I hope you’re right, honey.”

“It’ll be worth it, Dad. You’ll see.”

iv.

“You’ll never believe what’s happened!” Richard exclaimed, as he walked into the den and sat beside his wife.

“What’s Miranda done now?” Marion asked, her voice wary.

“She said ‘thank you’,” Richard replied.

“I don’t believe it,” Marion said. “What miracle did Andy pull off to earn that basic gesture of politeness?” she asked, in a snippy tone. “Especially since an illegal J.K. Rowling manuscript didn’t warrant it.”   

Richard smiled proudly as he recalled Andy’s success against the odds. “Another act of defiance by our brilliant daughter.” 

“Maybe that explains her lack of gratitude” Marion said. “She was probably expecting Andy to either quit or fail. The shock of being wrong must have left her speechless.”

They shared a glance, their delight clearly apparent. Both of them chose to overlook the legal ramifications of Andy’s accomplishments. After all, she was their daughter and she had somehow achieved the impossible and proven Miranda wrong.

“So getting back to the ‘thank you’ story,” he said. “Seems she had to attend some fancy gala on Friday night.”

“On Nathaniel’s birthday?” Marion asked, both eyebrows raised high. “Oh, that wouldn’t have been well received.”

“No, but that’s a whole other story. Anyway,” Richard said, placing his arm around Marion’s shoulders, “Miranda’s husband was drunk and acting like an idiot. Andy somehow managed to distract that Irv fellow before everything turned to shit.”

“Richard!”

“Her words, darling. I’m simply repeating the story.”

“And Miranda acknowledged the effort?”

“Yes,” Richard replied. “She even sent Andy home in a town car with her favourite driver. Apparently that’s unheard of.”

Marion leaned her head on Richard’s shoulder and let out a sigh. “Maybe Miranda’s finally worked out how brilliant our daughter is.”

“It’s about time.”

v.

“You know, I think our daughter has a crush on her boss,” Marion said, after hanging up the phone.

“Really? I hadn’t noticed.”

Marion rolled her eyes and sat down beside him on the couch. “You’ve never noticed how many times Andy says Miranda’s name?”

“Oh, she’s always cursing Miranda,” Richard said. “We all do.”

“Not for the last fortnight, honey,” Marion said, patting her husband’s arm. “Now it’s all about how misunderstood Miranda is. I’m telling you, I think she’s in love.”

Richard shook his head. “But the woman is married and almost our age! Besides, our daughter already has a boyfriend.”

“The heart wants what the heart wants,” Marion sighed. “Anyway, I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to last.”

”Really?” Richard asked, reaching for Marion’s hand. “Did she say something?”

”No. But she didn’t mention Nathaniel once during the whole conversation. Not even to complain. That’s not a good sign.”

“Well, I really doubt Miranda’s entertaining ideas about our daughter,” Richard said, in a confident tone. “But if she did, I think she’d at least support Andy’s dreams. A woman like that would surely appreciate ambition.” 

“That’s more than can be said for Nathaniel.”

vi.

“She’s quit her job,” Richard said with exasperation as soon as Marion arrived home from shopping.

“I was afraid of this happening,” Marion replied matter-of-factly, making her way into the kitchen. “Help me put the groceries away?”

“You were?” Richard asked with obvious disbelief as he followed his wife.

“It was just a matter of time before being around Miranda became too much for her.”

“How do you know that?”

“A mother knows these things, honey.”

“But what will she do now?” Richard asked as he placed the frozen items in the freezer. “Nathaniel’s deserted her and she can’t afford the rent on her own.”

“Richard, obviously we’ll help her out until she finds another job. Hopefully, Miranda won’t blacklist her on the East Coast.”

“She could always come home and work for Jack,” Richard said, a note of hope in his voice.

“Richard, we both know she’ll never come home to work for your brother.”

“You’re right of course.”

“I always am.”

vii.

“Seems Miranda wrote Andy an excellent recommendation,” Marion said with delight, as she made her way into the bedroom. “Our little girl will be writing for The New York Mirror!”

Richard glanced up from the magazine he was reading. “An excellent recommendation after Andy abandoned her in Paris?”

“Well, excellent by Miranda’s standards apparently.”

“I suppose we’ll need to take out a subscription then,” he said, the pride in his voice obvious.

“Yes, we will.”

“What about our Runway subscription?” Richard asked, waving the December issue in the air.

“Let’s keep it. Andy’s right. It really does have some interesting articles.”  

viii.

“Honey,” Marion said, as she walked out of the kitchen. “I think you need to sit down.”

“Is it Andy?” Richard asked with trepidation, sitting on the couch. “Has she been hurt?”

“No, nothing like that. I just have some...surprising news.”

“Okay. Hit me with it.”

Marion took a deep breath and then released it. “Andy is dating Miranda Priestly.”

“Oh,” Richard replied, completely unfazed. “Well, I suppose that’s not entirely unexpected.”

“You’re not shocked?”

“Not really, darling,” he said nonchalantly. “I may have seen something on Page Six last night.”

“You knew and didn’t tell me!”

“Well at that point, I was certain it was just gossip. You know Andy says they get most things wrong about Miranda. But since it’s real, how do you feel about it?”

Marion sighed. “Well, I’m concerned of course. The woman is driven and powerful and almost twice Andy’s age.”

“But she’ll support Andy don’t you think? A woman like that must value ambition in her partners.”

“But, honey. She has two ex-husbands,” Marion said, sitting beside him on the couch. “That’s not a great track record.”

“My sister’s twice-divorced. It takes two to make a marriage work, Marion.”

“That’s true. And Andy did mention how entitled Miranda’s second husband was. He didn’t sound very supportive.”

“Exactly,” Richard agreed. “And we know that won’t be the case with Andy.”

“So, we’ll play it cool and just see how everything goes then?”

“Well if we disapprove she’ll just defy us anyway,” Richard laughed.

They shared a smile. Their daughter was many things. Smart, loyal, beautiful and defiant. They hoped for her sake, Miranda was up for the challenge.