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Chapter 3 Photoshoot Mayhem
Hannah woke to her alarm going off at 4:45 am. Stretching, cat like, she felt happy, excited. Today was a going to be a nice break from the emotional rollercoaster of the past few weeks and she jumped out of bed to get ready.
She marvelled at the team she got to work with as she slipped on her flats and thought to herself how wonderful it was to work with such a hard working group of people. After months of planning, schmoozing and compromising, a photo shoot would be set up in the third story of The Strand, on Pit Street in Sydney. It was going to be a frantic morning, but once everything was set up the models would arrive and like giddy school children, slip into the finest designs currently trending. Hannah’s boss had been working overtime behind the scenes to secure an Alex Perry exclusive 6-page spread. She’d even managed to sweet talk the infamous designer into letting them use one side of his window display – the models were going to be staged in the window just like mannequins, draped in Alex’s recent collection and dripping in pink and yellow diamonds from the Larson Jewellery Company. The shoot was going to be featured in the magazine’s summer issue and everyone was buzzing with excitement.
Hannah rushed into the kitchen, poured hot black tea into her thermos and picked up her duffle bag. Scoffing down a blueberry muffin she scuttled out the door before her parents were up and about. It wasn’t like she was avoiding them; she just needed to get to the shoot on time and if mum caught her, she’d be trying to send her off with a packed lunch.
Hannah was pretty sure she’d thought of everything and it was all packed neatly into the back of her Countryman – she sighed with smug satisfaction as she turned the key and felt the vintage engine rev into gear and as she backed out of the driveway, she knew the drive into the city would be a good time to settle her anxiety over all the chaos that had been going on in her life. The only thing she didn’t anticipate was the chaos that would great her when she arrived, pulling into the loading zone so she could get all her gear out. Miranda, the magazine’s owner and chief editor, said she was going to meet Hannah on the street and help with the set pieces she’d been working on at home, but she wasn’t there when Hannah arrived.
Hannah sat in the car and let the engine idle while she sent a text. No reply. This was unusual. She usually had that phone glued to her hands and no one could text as fast as she could. Somethings up, Hannah thought so she decided to call Miranda instead.
“Yes? What?” was the unexpected reply. “Ah, hi Miranda. It’s Hannah. Are you at the location yet? I thought you were going to meet me in the loading zone to collect the set pieces”, she inquired, feeling a little foolish and wondering if she’d got the date wrong, or the time, or something. Miranda yelled something unintelligible to some unfortunate person and Hannah had to hold the phone away from her ear. “Miranda, is everything okay?”
“Oh Hannah, it’s mayhem! Everything is ruined, out of control. You have to get in here!”
“What’s going on Miranda? Calm down. I can’t understand-“
Hannah suddenly heard her name being yelled outside and she turned to see a very flustered Miranda running over to her car. She yanked open the door and gulping down cold air. ‘It’s flooded,” she rasped. “The top floor toilets have flooded. Everything’s a mess. It’s just madness and –“
“Okay, it’s okay Miranda. We’re going to get it all sorted out. Where is the superintendent?”, asked Hannah as she buckled herself up again “I don’t know – I’ve called five times, but Hannah you have to get inside –“
“I know, but I can’t park here. Just let me find a park and I’ll be in as soon as I can”.
Miranda slammed the door, making Hannah flinch as she flicked her blinker and moved out into the street inching slowly to try and find a park. Even at 6 am Pitt St was a nightmare for parking.
“Lord, I know you probably think it’s just a little thing, but I could really do with a –“
Before she could even finish her prayer, a station wagon pulled out, just a car length in front of her and she flicked her left blinker on and moved in. The space was such a good size that she didn’t even have to reverse park. “Thanks,” she whispered, taking a deep breath as she locked up and rushed back toward the Strand and chaos.
The lift was not operating so Hannah rushed up the stairs to the third floor, her anxiety increasing with every step as she watched water cascade over the third floor balcony and splash down onto the second and first floors, making a fine mess. Once she reached the top floor she could see where the water was coming from. Sure enough, as Miranda had explained, it was clear that either a toilet or a sink was flooding in the ladies’ toilets. Hannah hurried over to Miranda, who was watching stylists and models run back and forth to find something absorbent to stem the tide. It wasn’t going well since the only other place absorbent materials could be found were in the other bathroom facilities. With another hour to go before the rest of the businesses would open up, she looked like she was about to cry.
“Hey, it’s going to be okay, you know,” Hannah soothed but Miranda just shook her head back and forth, the tears now flowing down her exhausted face. “All this money, time, effort. All wasted. What are we going to do now?”, she moaned. Hannah put her arm around her boss’s shoulder, squeezed it and gave her a smile. “We’ll improvise”, she said, trying to shift Miranda’s mindset from disaster to opportunity.
Fifteen minutes later, the superintendent finally arrived and got on the phone to the plumbing company. Unfortunately this meant another full hour waiting for the plumber to arrive, who got tangled up in a line of cars on the bridge and by the time they reached the Strand, all the super’s resources had been expended and there were rags littering the toilet entrance, the hallway and the balcony railings closest to the catastrophe. The lower floors were at least now open for business but the top floor was a mess with models, stylists, beauticians and designers sitting around with nothing to do.
“Finally! They’re here,” said Hannah, and she arched her stiff back to stretch. As she did, she happened to notice a the rather tall lanky guy accompanying an older man who was clearly the boss. She didn’t realise she was being so obvious until Miranda dug her elbow into Hannah’s ribcage.
“Ouch!”, replied Hannah, giggling. “What was that for?”
“As if, Hannah. I saw you checking out that nice long drink of water,” noted Miranda as they watched the two men make their way up the stairs. Silly really – he’s just a cute guy, Hannah mused. But just as she let that thought start to travel into more romanticised ideas, her heart nearly stopped. He had stopped. Right in front of her. All she could do was stare at him. Awkward was an understatement.
“Hi, I’m looking for Miranda,” said the older gentleman. As soon as he spoke, Hannah recognised him. Frank O’Shea, her Dad’s old buddy. It had been quite a while since Hannah had seen Frank and she was pretty sure he didn’t recognise her. He asked this question, looking directly at Hannah, who just stood there trying to work out what happened to her vocal chords. The heat rising to her face was palpable and it was all she could do to remain calm.
“I’m Miranda,’ said her boss, standing tall and doing her best to look boss like. “Hello, Frank O’Shea. Sorry about the delay. Terrible traffic on the bridge today,” he said, “This is Thomas – my new apprentice. Can you direct me to the problem and we’ll get a feel for how much damage there is”. Miranda led Frank and Thomas over to the toilets and suddenly Hannah realised she was standing alone and feeling a little miffed. “I could have taken them over”, she mumbled to herself, working through the off-putting sense that she wanted to be around this tall, red-headed guy.
“Hannah? Oh, Hannah?,” teased Miranda. “Earth to Hannah…,” and she finally shook Hannah from her reverie. “Look who’s coming over to see you,” she said in a sing-song voice.
“Ssh, seriously, Miranda, stop it! You’re embarrassing me!,” she replied, trying desperately to cool her face. “I’m sure he’s just going to let us know when we can get cracking on the set,” she replied, hoping that she was right.
“Frank asked me to let you know that the floor won’t be ready in time for you to do your photoshoot. I’m really sorry. The clogged toilet is really bad and they’re going to have to shut down the whole floor for safety’s sake. Probably won’t be ready for a day or two,” said Thomas, hoping to get Hannah’s attention, but speaking directly to Miranda.
Miranda’s momentary hopefulness flew out the window as she flopped down onto a nearby cafe chair. “Well that’s just fantastic!”, she said as she threw her head into her hands.
“It’s okay,” offered Hannah, as she realised Thomas was just standing there, clearly feeling a bit unsure what he should say or do next. “Thanks for letting us know – we just have a lot riding on this shoot, so we’ll have to work something else out I suppose.”
“Oh, I see. Gosh, that’s really bad then, isn’t it? Pity you didn’t plan a waterfall in the shoot,” he said, suddenly realising that a waterfall originating from a toilet was not really going be a very nice waterfall. His face read like a book as the realisation hit and Hannah found it amusing and rather cute watching him trying to unravel what he’d just said.
“I’m really sorry. That was uncalled for,” he fumbled. “I mean, you know, ha, if it was a real waterfall, of course. I mean, I never meant from, you know, ha ha, the loo – um, ladies’ bathroom,” he stuttered, backing away and looking incredibly adorable and mortified at the same time.
Hannah just smiled and told him it would be fine. No issues. She understood what he meant and did everything she could to hold down the butterflies jumping around in her belly, some of which were clearly anxiety about the shoot. Others were of a less familiar origin and she pushed them down even further.
The team were informed of the bad news and the next hour was spent in typical fashion world chaos: phone calls and rescheduling, and major apologies to Alex and his staff – not that it was any of the magazine staffs fault, but ‘one must always be the one to apologise in these situations’, or that’s at least what Miranda always says. ‘Keep the clients happy’, she’d say, all the while rushing around frantically trying to keep everyone else happy too.
Eventually it was decided that the shoot could be relocated to a courtyard located a couple of blocks down from the Strand, and owned by a lovely couple that Miranda knew. They ran a quirky little cafe from the hole in the wall that jutted out from the courtyard and the setting ended up being even more idilic than the original concept.
It was a far from perfect day but this mess and subsequent change of plans was something that Hannah really loved about her work, despite the general anxiety that it generated for all involved. Sometimes it was total chaos and she had to think on her toes constantly, never really sure how things might transpire, but it was also an environment in which she felt sure footed and calm. The world could be crumbling and she’d find a way to make the models look beautiful in amongst the rubble and debris. This was where her mind operated on that ‘other’ plane and she was able to think, anxiety free.
On the way home, as she was thinking about the day’s events, her imagination threw an image of a tall, redheaded, cheeky looking guy in front of her and she had to swerve to avoid a pot hole in the road. Her palms began to sweat just a little as her pulse increased and she had to wipe her hands on her jeans.
“Get a grip, Hannah. This is ridiculous,” she said out loud, but she let her mind wander, just a little more, as she drove home, listening to Brooke Fraser singing Something in the Water, and bopping away, daydreaming of a plumber with green eyes, a coy smile and a rocking body.
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(c)2016 Miriam E. Miles. All rights reserved. Please respect my copyright as I have worked so hard to bring this story to life and would be devastated to see it plagiarised.