Tales of the Phoenix City – Chapter 10

These three girls were acutely getting on Yasmine’s nerves. The Atmosphere was heavy as she put on her wedding gown for the last time before her big day. She looked at herself in the mirror, who was that fledging bird floating in the big white dress, who had she become? Was she about to make the biggest mistake of her life? The three witches were whispering things behind the velvet curtain, making her even more nervous. For the umpteenth time today she had the urge to dive into her bag (Balenciaga, had cost her father a fortune, good, that’ll teach him to regulate her life) to retrieve her cigarettes and start her usual chain smoking, but Nina had made it extremely clear that no smoke of any kind was allowed anywhere near her beloved fabrics. Ufffff. Designers and and their neurosis.

She tittered outside, knowing she looked stunning, pride coloring her hollow cheeks.

– Jesus Fucking Christ, interjected the thin tall girl, you look like shit. It’s the first time I ever see Nina’s magic dimmed by sadness. You might as well go in a denim overall, you’d look better.

That rattled Yasmine. How dare she! That little! That bitch! Would you look at her! All cheekbones and angles and and I don’t know what!

Holding her rage in, Yasmine barely answered:

– For the price your friend here is charging, people’s reaction better be different from yours.

The look of contempt the three women shot her made her lower her eyes in shame: couldn’t she depart herself once, just for once, of her role as the Beiruti princess, always bitchy, always pushy, throwing money at everything as if small sheets of paper were the answer to everything, including happiness?

Suddenly, she felt really, really tired. She’d have loved to disappear somewhere, and never come back to her farce of a make believe world, the world that had entangled her in a web she could not, or did not know how, disentangle herself from. How cast in stone, iron-wrought do prejudices and beliefs look when one is born and raised in them!

The tall girl started shooting with her long lens camera, which, under normal circumstances, would have gotten Yasmine all proud and excited. That is, under normal circumstances and not exactly when one, she was being insulted, or her beauty, at any rate, something she had always taken for granted, so many were the times she had seen and heard it being celebrated, and two, when this was not a particularly happy occasion, given the fact that she did not love the groom and positively loathed his family, the family she was supposed to be making hers soon.

What a lovely situation. The muted cream tones of Nina’s workshop, the delicious Russian Earl Grey tea, the scrumptious biscuits from the cooperatives did not suit Yasmine’s state of mind: she needed black, lots and lots of it, to match her funeral mood.

– Look at me! Urged the thin girl. Yeah, look into that lens, I want you to remember how utterly miserable you looked on a day that should have been nothing short of joyful!

Yasmine cleared her throat. She hated the clipped tones and the dry words that came out of her mouth, but she did not know another way of dealing with confrontation and honesty, she had been raised in a world of lies, of appearances, where what you drove and the brands you wore were miles more important than the person underneath.

– Nina, I do not know what is it that you’re getting at, but it seems to me that you could, and you should, have asked me before inviting your friends over for my final fitting. What’s more, I did not ask for that person’s opinion, she said, gesturing to Gabrielle, barely looking up. I would like you to ask them to leave.

– Yasmine, I have put up with your attitude for so long because I hold in great value people who love. I figure, in the words of Amelie Nothomb, a novelist you of all people probably don’t know, that all those who love deserve to be saved. The thing is, my dear Yasmine, that you’re impossible, not because you love, but because you don’t. I think you’re no more of an awful person that my friend Gaby, who you don’t seem to be particularly fond of. You’re spoiled, yes, you’re way too pampered, for sure, and it wouldn’t hurt you to work a tad more, but in you, I see many other things. I see passion, ambition, cleverness. I see will, I see a hint of laughter that would be clearer if only you were no imprisoned in a societal jail. I see so much more than just a wedding with a person you hate. What I told you last time remains: I refuse to sell you the dress in that condition.

Yasmine’s tears were flowing, not because of Nina’s galvanizing speech, but because no one, not even her parents, no one in her whole life had ever called her clever.

– But what should I do? I can’t just drop everything.

– Yes you can, piped a small voice coming from the tiny blond girl who had kept silent up until now. If I was able to distance myself from the love of my life because he was just not putting me as a priority and because he seemed more interested by himself and his Constant internal demons than by what we could have achieved together, then yes, I think you can leave a stupid fils à papa that probably doesn’t even love you and who will probably find another match in less than a month, thanks to his mommy.

– And the world can stick it!

– Thank you, Gabrielle, for this highly valued contribution, Nina shot her friend a dirty look. Gaby would never ever learn to speak properly.

But Yasmine was smiling.

– Keep the smile Beiruti Princess! Urged the thin girl, Gaby, while shooting like there was not tomorrow, I Like the mix of tears and laughter, it’s mirrored in our Beirut.

Outside, it had started to rain. Those heavy, gorgeous Beiruti showers where the sun caressed the clouds, where the air smelt of baked dust and dry earth. Big drops, buckets of waters cleansing the city from all its numerous sins, with tiny rays of suns piercing through the sky, a promise of redemption.

Nina knew an opportunity when she saw one.

– Besides, I have a business proposal to discuss with you. 


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