"Okay, so you have to promise not to freak out!"
"What? ... Why are you saying this?"
Ridiculous. Sometimes Miranda wouldn't believe that a woman as mature as Andrea could act in such a childish way.
Rolling her eyes, she just nodded.
“No, that’s not good enough. I need to hear you say it. ”
Biting her bottom lip, Andrea turned the key that had been stuck in the keyhole and unlocked the door, already regretting having agreed to it.
Exactly a month ago the two decided to get married. That is, now that nothing else could stop the relationship from actually working out.
Andrea finally managed to get in perfect tune with her moment in life - literally speaking, and Miranda, in return, had no doubt that Andrea had become a key part in her life.
The moment the two broke the news to their daughters, they were bombarded with a series of questions, including “Where will we all live now?”
The question hung in the air for a few seconds until Cassidy said "Andrea’s apartment won’t fit all of us."
"You’ll move in with us." Caroline then proclaimed, and the two went upstairs to their rooms.
Two gaping women were left in the room, and in spite of everything, they did not dare to disobey the decision made.
Thus began the saga of Andrea, having to dismantle her apartment that she had lived until now for just over 5 years. At first it didn't occur to her the many things she would have to go through. It didn't even occur to her that Miranda would be present at some point.
Now, turning on the lights in her living room Andrea could feel her whole body shaking. With Miranda trailing behind her, she felt more nervous than she would care to admit.
Luckily for her, her fiancee (they refused to use this word, but wasn’t it the truth?), didn't seem to notice how electrified she was.
"Where shall we start?"
"B-bedroom?" Andrea asked. Miranda nodded.
Of course, after half an hour of taking clothes out of drawers and folding them on the bed, Andrea realized that she was the only one actually working.
Looking at her bed, she smiled lovingly when her eyes met a relaxed Miranda, leaning against the headboard with a book in her hand.
“I thought you said you're coming to help me…”
"I said I would come with you ... That was all."
Andrea rolled her eyes and kept folding her clothes.
Having a look at the suitcase Andrea had been packing full of t-shirts and casual clothes made Miranda have another look around the room. Sure she had been here before, but almost always in passing, Miranda had never taken her time to take in Andrea’s little place. They rarely had the opportunity to spend time together here, and if they did it was always on a rush.
Now that she could look at things patiently while Andrea took her time, some questions started to pop in her mind.
Andrea drew attention from her since the day they first met, obviously one of the key factors as to why Miranda decided to hire her. In fact, now that she recalled the day, she remembers exactly the dress Andrea had been wearing. One she never wore again.
“Where’s that dress you wore on your first day at Runway?”
"Huh?" Andrea managed, not really paying attention. She knew she would have a long way to go before she even got to half of her stuff.
"The Chanel you wore the day I hired you." Miranda said, putting the book back on the nightstand where she first found it, turning her attention completely to Andrea sitting at the floor next to bed. "Where is it?" Andrea could see her eyes scanning the room, obviously not finding a suitable place to keep such a perfect piece.
"Um ... It- I- It must be in the other room." What was supposed to be the right answer? Andrea could only hope Miranda wouldn’t pick it up how evasive she was trying to be.
"In the other room?" Knowing the tone, she came to the conclusion that she failed miserably.
“Ah! Yes, the door at the end of the hallway ...? ”
Miranda hmed , conceding while analyzing Andrea, who now seemed more nervous than ever. Rubbing her chin with her forefinger - a Miranda-classic gesture, she rose from the bed towards the hall.
"I'll get it for you, I think it would be perfect for the dinner on Thursday." She announced as she passed the woman on the floor.
"What?" Andrea was startled by the breeze Miranda left behind, trying to get up to stop the woman, but failing as soon as she felt her foot caught in one of her clothes.
"Miranda, wait!" she tried, jumping on one foot out of her room just in time to see the other woman's back, heading towards the door.
Miranda didn't even deign to answer, instead she looped her hand tightly around the knob, turning it. What she didn't expect, however, was that the door wouldn't even budge.
Spinning again to no avail, she even tried to use the strength of her shoulder against the piece of wood, but soon understood what was going on.
“Andrea? Why is it locked? ”
“Locked? Um- I have stuff in there…” She managed, twisting a lacy bra in her hand - the responsible for almost making her fall on her head when she tried to run after Miranda.
Miranda just raised her right eyebrow.
Andrea didn't know if it was the word stuff or, again, her avoidance.
“Some important things I keep…”
That still didn’t explain it so Miranda just waited.
“A- and you know how that guy came in here last week to fix the bathroom pipe…”
Now, changing her position and letting go of the door handle, Miranda seemed to buy it. "So where is the key?"
Miranda rolled her eyes and sighed “Honestly, Andrea, are you going to keep repeating everything I ask you? Where is the key? ”
Andrea recognized the annoyance on Miranda’s tone.
Sighing, she looked down… How silly of her to keep hiding this when she was going to marry the woman in front of her? Miranda had chosen her, above all, and they had been through much worse than this. What was the worst that could happen once Miranda had a look inside?
"I’ll go get it."
"Thank you." Miranda said with a proud tone that was accompanied by her posture, chest up as she fixed her blouse - that needed no fixing, back into her high-waisted pants.
With a final, long and loud sigh, Andrea twisted the handle and opened the door, taking two steps inside and allowing the other woman to follow through.
Andrea closed her eyes briefly, not wanting to see Miranda's reaction. Instead, she just waited. When no reaction reached her ears, she opened her right eye and turned towards the other woman.
Miranda had an expression on her face that Andrea had never seen before. A mixture of shock and happiness. It was almost like she was delighted.
Miranda had her two eyes opened wide, her mouth slightly open, but no sound came out.
"Please, say something ..?" Andrea tried.
"What- How ..."
Andrea had never seen Miranda at a loss for words.
"What’s all of this?" she choked out.
"My life?" She tried with a smile.
Miranda then turned to her as if she finally understood. Cursing at herself for never thinking of this before. “Of course…”
“Darling, I… How could I never have thought of this?” Miranda turned to the room again, taking in all the racks full of clothes.
The bedroom, which Andrea had made into something more like a closet, looked, in fact, like The Closet.
All four walls were taken up by racks, each with dozens of hangers hanging from it plus some boxes beneath each one. All hangers occupied by clothes and more clothes, all separated by decades. Like a fashion museum perfectly curated.
"I couldn’t bring myself to dispose of them throughout the years." Andrea whispered.
"So you kept all of it?" Miranda said, strolling around the room, running her hand through the fabrics. She felt like a child at Disney.
Andrea just nodded. “Just the most important ones, the ones that I liked best… I didn’t realize it was pillying up like this. I don’t come here often. ”
Miranda then stopped on her way and looked again at Andrea, who in turn was rocking from one foot to the other, still with the stupid bra in her hands.
Andrea only noticed the movement when two pale hands covered hers.
"Why did you feel like you had to hide it?" Miranda whispered.
Andrea simply shrugged her shoulders. "I guess I was afraid it might scare you off ..."
Miranda walked over to her, placing her hands gently on each side of her face. "Andrea ..."
“Plus, I don’t come in here often… I had to take it out of the storage I was keeping it a few months ago. Francine was the one who organized it for me.”
Miranda turned to the room again, astonished and amused. "This is incredible."
"Yes!" She said in an excited tone that took Andrea by surprise. "How many years?"
"How many years worth of clothes is in here?"
"Oh ..." she never thought about that. In all these years, Andrea never stopped to think that she was keeping her whole life, year after year, for more or less ... “I don’t know. Maybe… 70 years?” She managed through a tight smile. Scary number to say out loud.
"Oh my ..." Miranda whispered, placing her hand in front of her mouth, marveling.
Then, after resuming her recognition of the place from where she had stopped, Miranda finally came face to face with The Chanel. "Here it is."
Miranda uracked it and Andrea took a big gulp. That day had been the last day she wore the thing.
She brought it to the front of the woman, as if measuring it on Andrea’s body, immediately remembering the woman in her office all that time ago. The look on Miranda’s face was full of glee, like she was a renowned stylist who had just designed and sewed herself the dress made specially for her muse.
Andrea felt warm when she caught that, and Miranda upon realizing it blushed a little, but nevertheless proceeded. "France you said?"
Andrea nodded. The famous retort that landed her the job. It’s actually a vintage Chanel from the 80’s. Wool and silk, midi. Can you believe it was made in France?
"How do you know?" Miranda challenged.
"You will make me tell the story, won’t you?"
Miranda actually smiled this time.
Taking a seat in a foot stool at the corner, Andrea sighed trying to decide how much she should tell Miranda. Taking pity on her, the other woman pretended to keep looking at the other pieces, as if strolling through a store.
“It was the summer after Francine had gotten married… It was particularly difficult for me.” Her eyes suddenly filled up with tears. “It’s hard enough seeing them grow, but to not be able to be present, be a part of their lives…”
File this under the list of things that never crossed Miranda's mind. She felt a pang in her chest for her lover.
“So we had a lovely day together, and after that I set off to Europe. Figured since I couldn’t be near her, might as well be really far altogether. She needed to start her life without distractions. I needed to take care of myself… She understood all of that, of course. ”
“Of course!” Miranda added with a chuckle. Francine was, perhaps, the most centered of all of them.
“So I did. Ended up in Paris. Very cliche, I know, but… It was nice. ” She finally met Miranda's eyes.
"I can imagine." Miranda whispered.
“I found it at a little store right around the corner of my flat.” Andrea stated in a more serious voice, trying to swallow all of the memories and the tears that threatened to spill out of her.
"When was it?" Miranda asked in a firm tone. She knew that Andrea would try to avoid recognizing that all of this had happened years ago, and that she had actually lived for a long time. But this moment would be the best of all to finally face all the memories so that they could start over.
“Oh, God…” big breath again. "I never stopped to think about it ..." she closed her eyes, trying to remember.
“I guess… almost 40 years ago.” she stated, and silence hung up on the air for longer than it should've. "The dress must be older than that, then."
She heard the clink of the metals as Miranda put the hanger back in the rack.
By this time, Andrea was no longer able to hold back the tears inside. She wasn't sure if it was because she remembered all the memories before the dress, or everything that came after. Looking at her hands, still fidgeting with the piece of fabric Andrea chuckled because so many things had happened and in all the years of her life, she never imagined this scene. A bittersweet moment, she guessed.
Miranda once again covered her hands, this time tossing the bra to the side and intertwining their fingers.
"Andrea, listen to me." She said in a firm tone, directing the other woman's face so that her eyes met. “I don’t want you to ever feel like you need to hide any part of your story. Ever. ”
"Do you understand?" Miranda pressed through tight lips. Now, tears were spilling from her own eyes as she made her point.
Andrea nodded, not holding her emotions anymore.
She is not sure how long they have been in the room. All she knows is that at some point a bottle of wine has been opened, and now, sitting on the floor in a corner, leaning against the wall, she looks fondly at the woman across the room.
Miranda managed to get nearly two dozen dresses out of the protective bags. Managed to fit in about ten, made Andrea try on another ten, and so on...
As if in a run through in her office, she gave Andrea orders about what to do, completely lost in her own fashion world. Andrea could actually see inside her eyes, with each new piece, ideas for Runway spreads forming like clouds on a rainy day.
She was having a ball, and Andrea decided she was not going to be the one to cut her dream short.
So they stayed up late into the night until eventually Miranda gave in, exhausted.
Sitting next to Andrea, having taken possession of her glass of wine, Miranda still looked shocked by everything that is in front of her eyes. At the same time, buzzing with energy to go through everything, like a child.
“You should have brought me here sooner.”
Andrea could only laugh.
“I have so many ideas.”
“I’m sure you do.” Andrea couldn’t help this time but to grab Miranda’s face between her hands, turning the woman's face towards her and giving her a deep, sensual kiss. Not that she was trying to shut Miranda up, it’s just that suddenly seeing the other woman so alive with so many possibilities, thrilled by something that was a big part of Andrea’s life, somehow, made her feel alive as well. Seeing Miranda so genuinely happy made something inside of her burst in flames.
So alive she wanted to enjoy the moment. And she was sure Miranda would have no objections to that.
The next morning was filled with questions like "What took you so long?", "When will you go back there?", "Is there really that much stuff?" and "Can we go next time?", while Francine sipped her coffee and laughed at the corner of the table.
Miranda tried to hide it, but the same questions her daughters kept asking at the breakfast table were much like the questions she had asked Andrea last night. Of course, along with plans for storing, labeling and preserving the clothes. “Like art pieces, Andrea!”
Andrea couldn't help but see the humor in all of this, being Miranda's daughters, it was obvious the girls would love to have a little stroll through her closet… As for Miranda being Miranda, Andrea was sure that now her clothes would be treated as they were meant by all the designers. She knew her soon-to-be-wife had just discovered her own, personal, treasure.
She laughed too as she brought the cup with the smoking liquid to her mouth. Her heart was finally full. She felt warm and at peace after so many years of anxiety and agony.
After the last box was closed, and after Andrea had locked her apartment door for the last time, she would be sure that now she would be right where she was meant to be. Together with her family, at last.