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Then and Now

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Then and now

 

Miranda sits in her car and thinks back on the strange events that led to this moment. The moment where her car is parked outside the New York Mirror building and she is about to do something she has never done before.

 

***

 

As soon as Miranda stepped on the graveyard, she knew she was right to come here. She had had her doubts at first, but those were now all vanished and her mind was made up. Her Louboutins clacked on the cold stones as she walked between the rows. Then, after a couple of minutes, she spotted the stone she was looking for. When she arrived at the stone, she sank to her knees and stared the words that were engraved in the well-kept stone. Sister Aloysius Beauvier. The only woman who understood the position she was in, the only woman Miranda knew who had been through the same thing more than forty years ago.

 

***

 

A year ago it all started for Miranda. She was Paris, the most important time of the year for her, and her husband, Stephen, had had the balls, or rather didn’t have them, to call her and announce that he wanted a divorce. Her previous husbands at least had had the courage to tell her to her face, be he did it via a phone call. This made her both angry and sad. Was she really so unapproachable that her own husband didn’t even dare to speak to her? She cried that night for her failed marriage, but mainly for her daughters. She was lost in her thoughts when Andrea entered her suite. The silly girl tried to act as normal as possible, but her hands were shaking when she got the lunch-setting from her bag and the concern never left her eyes. And it was something in those eyes that made Miranda open up to her second assistant, to talk a little about her concerns about the press and her daughters. It still came as a surprise when Andrea didn’t leave after ‘that’s all’. Instead the girl walked towards her and held her hand. This act surprised Miranda so much that it left her speechless and stunned. Stunned enough that Andrea moved her face closer to hers and then very softly brushed her lips against Miranda’s, just for two maybe three seconds. After that she pulled back and left, leaving Miranda completely shocked, but less miserable behind.

 

***

 

Miranda touched her bottom lip and looked again at the name. In 1964, when Miranda was eight and still Miriam Princhek, she had seen the same scene only not between a about to be divorced boss and her devoted second assistant, but between a usually strong nun in doubt and a young nun who almost was the definition of innocence.

 

***

 

It had snowed, the streets were white when Miriam returned home after spending the afternoon with her friend Carol. She still doesn’t know why, but when she walked past the yard of St. Nicolas school and her voices she hid herself and listened. It were Sister James who taught eight grade and Sister Aloysius, the hated principal. Miriam couldn’t understand why everyone hated and/or feared Sister Aloysius. Sure, she was tough, but she never punished who didn’t deserve it. She just held on to her principles and Miriam couldn’t find anything that was wrong with that.

 

It surprised her when she heard Sister Aloysius crying. She peeked over the bushes and saw Sister James comforting the crying nun. The young nun placed her head in the lap of Sister Aloysius and just held her hand. Just when Miriam wanted to sneak away, lifted Sister James her head and brought it closer to Sister Aloysius’. Miriam held her breath and even though her vision was blocked by the black hats the nuns wore, she knew what they were doing and she also knew for sure that they shouldn’t. She kept still behind the bushes. Sister James pulled away and without saying another word, she stood up and entered the building. Not long after her Sister Aloysius followed. Miriam breathed again and quickly ran home.

 

***

 

Miranda heard footsteps approaching and looked up. An old woman was walking towards her or rather towards the grave she was kneeling in front of. Miranda made the intention to stand up and leave, but the old woman stopped her.

 

‘No, don’t get up. I didn’t mean to interrupt,’ she said, her voice sounding strangely familiar to Miranda.

 

The woman kneeled next to her and placed the flowers on the grave. After a few minutes of silence, the woman spoke again.

 

‘How did you know her?’ she asked. ‘I thought I was the only one who came here.’

 

‘I didn’t really. This is the first time I’ve come here.’

 

The woman looked at as if she remembered Miranda’s face from somewhere. Suddenly Miranda knew why the woman’s voice sounded so familiar. It only had been over forty years since she heard or seen this person. She still remembered the last time she saw her, like it was yesterday.

 

***

 

Summer finally arrived. At last it was vacation, at least that was what most people thought. Miriam however didn’t like vacations. They never went anywhere, she always stayed in New York and then when school started again, everybody had good stories except for her. She started walking towards her home, sighed and looked around just one more time. Her breath was knocked out of her when she saw what was happening behind one window. She saw Sister James and Sister Aloysius, without their hats this time, kiss. They kissed like it was their last time. Suddenly Sister James pulled away and placed her hat on and left. Sister Aloysius wrapped her arms around herself and turned towards the window, her grey hair glistened in the sunlight. Her eyes widened when she saw Miriam. As quick as she could Miriam turned around and ran towards home and vowed never to talk about this.

 

When she returned to school after the vacation, Sister James had left for another parish. So had Sister Veronica, apparently it had been discovered that she was going blind. The two ‘new’ nuns weren’t very different from the others, so it made no difference to Miriam. Except that she always made sure that Sister Aloysius wasn’t alone with her, afraid of what the consequences might be.

 

***

 

‘Are you Sister James?’ Miranda asked.

 

The old woman looked at her and raised her eyebrows.

 

‘I haven’t heard that name in so long,’ she said slowly, ‘Today I’m known by my real name Sarah Wells.’

 

So Miranda had been right. It was Sister James. The Sister James that kissed Sister Aloysius all those years ago.

 

‘Who are you?’

 

Sarah’s voice broke through her thoughts.

 

‘Miranda. Miranda Priestly, but you probably know me as,’ she paused for a second. She hated her old name. ‘Miriam Princhek.’

 

Sarah’s eyes widened and she inhaled deeply.

 

‘You saw us, all those years ago. It was you. I remember that she told me about it. Why are you here?’

 

Now that was a good question. Miranda thought about what had happened eleven months ago.

 

***

 

In Paris, Andrea had almost left her. Miranda made her pay. She sent Andrea out on almost impossible tasks and she was even more the Dragon Lady than she had been when Andrea just started at Runway, but that day her mind wasn’t on Andrea or Emily. That day it was Stephen. The bastard had confessed to adultery and since that moment Miranda felt the urge to strangle the first person that walked into her office.

 

She stood in front of her window, staring down at the cars that rode on the streets, and didn’t hear that someone had entered her office until she felt a pair of hands on her shoulders. She tensed up immediately and wanted to turn around, but stopped when the person talked.

 

‘Relax Miranda, it’s only me,’ Andrea said.

 

‘Andrea, what…’ Miranda started, but she was interrupted when Andrea placed a finger on her lips.

 

‘No, don’t talk, not this time.’

 

Then Andrea pressed her lips against Miranda’s and kissed her. Miranda stood completely paralyzed and allowed Andrea to tangle her fingers in her silver hair. When she felt Andrea’s tongue, she moved again and lost herself the kiss. She cupped Andrea’s neck and pulled her even closer. After some time past, she needed air and pulled away. Andrea just smiled and walked away.

 

The next day when Andrea entered the office she told Miranda she had been offered a job at the New York Mirror and that in two weeks she would be gone.

 

***

 

‘I don’t know,’ Miranda said, ‘maybe, because Sister Aloysius experienced sort of the same thing I’m going through now.’

 

‘What do you mean?’

 

‘She also was kissed by someone half her age in a moment of need and from what I saw, that time I saw you together in her office, she also fell in love with that person.’

 

Sarah looked at the stone and a single tear escaped from her eye.

 

‘Yes, she loved me and I loved her, but we couldn’t be together. That’s why I left. It’s also the reason she was buried under the name Aloysius Beauvier. She told me she didn’t want her real name, because she only knew real love as a nun.’

 

‘I’ve fallen in love with my ex-assistant who is half my age, because she kissed me.’

 

For a few moments they both didn’t say a word, like they didn’t comprehend what Miranda just had said.

 

‘You should tell her that,’ Sarah whispered, ‘you’ll regret it otherwise. Believe me. I never told her and I still hate myself for it.’

 

***

 

Miranda lifts her head and sees Andrea exiting the New York Mirror Building. Very fast she opens her door and steps out of her car.

 

‘Andrea,’ she calls.

 

The brunette turns around and gives her a surprised look. Miranda walks towards and finds herself without words.

 

‘Miranda, I…’ Andrea starts, but is stopped by Miranda who presses her lips against Andrea’s.

 

‘Andrea, I,’ she takes a deep breath, ‘I love you.’

 

Andrea starts to grin and gives her a quick kiss.

 

‘I love you too, Miranda Priestly.’