Andy’s phone rang as she walked along the Champ-Élysées. She had to use every ounce of self-control not to pick up Miranda’s call. She no longer knew what she wanted in life. She only knew she wouldn't end up like the cold, destructive editor.
Andy came to a stop at the Place de la Concorde, admiring the opulent sculpted fountain before her. As she sat along the edge of the fountain, Andy couldn't help but think of the conversation she just escaped. Her mind fluttered back to Miranda's words.
“I never thought I would say this Andréa, but I see a great deal of myself in you. You can see beyond what people want, what they need and you can choose for yourself.”
“I don’t think I’m like that”, Andy said solemnly, keeping her eyes glued to the world outside her window, “I- I couldn’t do what you did to Nigel, Miranda. I couldn’t do something like that.”
“Hmm, but you already did -” At Miranda’s accusation, Andréa turned to finally look at Miranda only to see Miranda staring at her. “To Emily,” Miranda finished in a whisper.
Andy tried, vehemently, to defend herself, “That’s not what I- No, that was different. I didn’t have a choice.”
“Oh no, you chose. You chose to get ahead. If you want this life, those choices are necessary. Some people in life will never accept your priorities. Not everyone can withstand the pressure, Andréa. But now you know that you can. And so now you know that you can have my life. You can do what I do. Because you can sacrifice the things that need to be sacrificed”
“But what if I can't do that? What if this isn’t what I want? I mean, what if I don’t want to live the way you live?”
“Don't be silly, Andréa. Everybody wants this. Everyone wants to be us.”
Andy sat at the Place de la Concorde for what seemed like a lifetime. She kept going over everything that unfolded in the past twenty-four hours. She tried to piece together why she cared so much. It was never her dream to have a job at Runway, so why stay? Most importantly, why wasn't she on the first plane back to New York?
Then it hit her; it was because of Miranda. Not because she was doing her job or keeping out of the wrath of the Devil, but because she cared. All Andy wanted to do was protect her resolute boss.
Andy thought back to the night at the Met Gala, the night where Miranda broke her composure for a brief moment.
As Jacqueline approached Miranda, Andy could tell that Miranda had become tenser with her presence. Luckily, Andy was quick on her feet. She thanked the heavens that she had taken French in high school and university.
Andy stepped toward Jacqueline, “Alors, Jacqueline, diets-moi, avez-vous rencontre Brad Pitt?”
Jacqueline seemed slightly stunned at the question, “Ah, non..”
“Venez avec moi.” Turning to Miranda to address her, “Pardonne-nous.”
That was the first moment of the night that Andy had helped Miranda, yet that was not the moment that stood out in Andy’s mind.
That moment was later on in the evening. Towards the end of the night, Miranda’s husband Stephen had begun to make a scene. Unfortunately, Irv had been standing next to Miranda at the time. Once again, Andy swooped in to save the day and distracted Irv so that Miranda could deal with her inebriated husband.
It was then that Miranda caught her eye. She held Andy’s gaze for a moment before mouthing the words ‘thank you’ in the most sincere way Andy had ever experienced. It was the first time Andy saw the woman behind the mask.
Stuck in her reverie, Andy hadn’t realized that almost an hour had passed. What would happen to her now that she had walked away? Was going back still an option? With all the questions erupting during her panic, she hadn’t heard footsteps along the boulevard. It wasn’t until a hand landed on her shoulder did she turn around.
“Andréa! There you are. I have been worried sick,” Miranda said, putting both hands on Andy’s shoulders, gripping tightly. Andy refused to let her jaw drop in astonishment of who was before her. She was beyond shocked that Miranda came to look for her; that Miranda even cared enough to follow her.
“Andréa, you’re shivering. Let’s get you inside.” Andy could do nothing but stare at the woman before her, following her lead.
Miranda steered them to a small coffee shop not too far from the Place de la Concorde. Taking a seat at a table near the window, Andy watched as Miranda ordered their coffee and returned with two steaming cups.
Andy's first instinct was to bolt. Yet, she sat there and watched as Miranda sat down across from her. They sat there, in the quiet cafe and looked out the window for quite some time. Finally, Miranda broke the silence.
“I'm sorry, Andréa. For what I said earlier tonight”
Andy was shocked at the apology, “Miranda, I—”
“No, Andréa. Please let me explain. When I said that I saw myself in you, I didn’t mean I saw the ‘Dragon Lady’. Well, I did but that wasn’t exactly what I meant. Mostly, I see the person that I was before all this.” Miranda took a deep breath to steady herself, “Miriam Princhek was young and idealistic, too, once upon a time. The world made her hard, made her into who you see today. I made the choice to do whatever I had to, to get what I want. Maybe I sacrificed too much of that young woman. As I said earlier, everyone has a choice. You can choose to forge your own path.”
After another moment of silence, Miranda spoke again, “Am I correct in my assumption that your departure from my side tonight was to debate whether or not you’d stay at Runway?”
All Andy could do was nod and stare into the dark liquid in her cup.
“Well, take tonight to think about it. If you choose to stay, I will see you in the morning. We always have a choice, Andréa. It’s time to make yours.” As quickly as Miranda had appeared, she was gone again.
Once again, Andy was left alone with her thoughts. She felt exhausted after the whirlwind of events that transpired in the last twenty-four hours. Yet, Andy couldn’t bring herself to leave. Instead, she had sat at the fountain when she could have been packing her bags. Maybe deep down she hoped that Miranda would come after her and convince her to stay.
Andy ordered a second cup of coffee and sat back down at the table. Miranda was right, she had a choice. She could stay at Runway or she could leave. As Andy weighed her options her mind went back to something else that Miranda had said. ‘You can choose to forge your own path.’ Andy realized that Miranda meant within Runway. Andy could stay at Runway, to be close to Miranda, but she didn’t need to make the choice to sacrifice everything to get the life that she wanted.
She had already made sacrifices when it came to Runway. She sacrificed her relationship with Nate, her friendship with Doug and Lily, and her time with her parents. Yet, nobody batted an eye when Nate missed important events to advance his career or when Lily was too busy with shows at the gallery to hangout. But when it came to Andy’s position at Runway, that’s where they drew the line. They thought the publication was beneath them yet they didn’t complain about the gifts Andy bestowed on them. Now that she had a moment to think about, Andy realized that they never supported her in the first place.
Andy had matured during the first six months of her tenure at the magazine, and they apparently didn’t like who she had become. The most important question was, did Andy like who she had become? There were moments where Andy did things that were difficult but there were also moments that were invigorating.
Andy tried to keep up with Miranda was she weaves through the heavy New York pedestrian traffic. She finally catches up to Miranda as they near James Holt’s studio and manages to get the door for Miranda.
As they near the awaiting elevator, Andy hesitates. Sighing, Miranda nods her head for Andy to follow her inside. Everyone knew that Miranda hated riding in elevators with people. Andy had never been so close to Miranda in such a confined space.
Andy stood to the side of the room, taking notes on the changes that Miranda had dictated. Miranda was not pleased with James’ new line and she had no problem telling him exactly why.
Andy thinks back to the exact words Miranda had told James that day.
“You don’t just dress a woman, you embrace her, give her the love she might never get from a real man. You make a woman feel powerful, special, beautiful.”
Andy realized at that moment, at James’ studio, that Miranda may be tough but she does it out of a deep love for fashion and everything it can make you feel.
The last time she had thought of that day was when she went home and talked to Nate about it. He couldn’t understand why Miranda’s speech had such a profound effect on her and everyone else in the room. In fact, he had dismissed her opinion entirely and repeatedly called Miranda a bitch.
Why has she been defending her friends to herself when all they do is put her down? Maybe Andy wasn’t the problem, maybe she had just surrounded herself with people who didn’t understand her, people she had outgrown. When she thought about it she truly enjoyed her time at Runway. She had learned so much and she enjoyed the challenges that Miranda gave her. Yes, they could be stressful, but no two days were the same and with each new day brought new obstacles she overcame.
Andy knew what she needed to do. She gathered her coffee and made her way back to the hotel. Tomorrow would be a new day.