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  • Writer's pictureAshley Gray

Audrey + Tanner Part One

Drea, formerly Audrey, is wearing overalls with a bandeau top- lavender. She likes purple, it’s soothing. Her hair is tossed in every direction- some straight pieces, some curls. A half-way contained bun holds what looks like a nest of hair. She’s sucking down oysters doused in Tabasco and that ominous chunky white stuff that you people eat (people who aren’t allergic like me). She’s with Tanner (appears 40 something but is really 38). He’s got on a safe pair of dockers, pleated of course, boat shoes, a brooks brother’s polo and the frat boy turned corporate hair cut. You know the one with the undefined part that kinda spikes when it grows out. And he hasn’t used gel since he pledged SAE back in undergrad. He was ashamed by their recruitment practices that made the national news a few years back. He was raised by a free-spirited, self proclaimed feminist mom. And despite her every effort to raise him woke, all those direct and indirect conversations in the frat house about how to succeed have crept into his business practices.


He promotes guys like him in the name of the being a good organizational “fit”. We all know fit means confirmation bias but he insists it’s about shared values. When he met Audrey she had already done her own personal revolution. She’s 39 and has lived two lives- one for others and this one, on her terms. In her past life, she went to Mizzou studied journalism (because Mizzou is a TOP school in the field). Pledged Delta Gamma and served as their treasurer. She was really good with money. She came from money. Grew up with all the fine trimmings of travel, the best education and access. Her parents thought things instead of quality time and love would help her to be best prepared for the real world. Growing up she revered them- now the pendulum swings between disdain and disappointment.


She met Tanner at a time in her life where she was transitioning from who she was to who she was to become. After 10 year stint at a news station in a small college town, she started to feel the tug. You know- when you can’t think about anything else but moving on from where you are? That one. One day as she was sneaking her daily cigarette (only one a day so the staining stays at bay- her motto, not mine) she accidentally dropped some lit ashes on the top of her overly modest, pepto bismol pink women’s conference dress and went into panic. She couldn’t film with a dress that had a burnt hole in it- much less one by her breasts. That’d draw attention. So she’s panicking- thinking of a cardigan or scarf in her office. She’s rightfully frustrated. Years of broadcast has created over straightened hair, enough Spanx to have stock in the company and lack of contentment. So, much like the rest of us, she vowed to change her life and pursue her real passion- pottery. She’s always been good with her hands. She’d fix the vases her mother threw after learning of her father’s continued infidelity. She had hoped it would spark connection between her and her mother as she presented these fixed masterpieces- only to learn, you can’t fix the people who throw them.


Anyway.

One New Year’s Eve at a station party where they played the same songs, used the same decor and gave the same apple cider toast- she awakened. What the hell was she even doing there? She grabbed her bag and left for the nearest grocery store. She walked every aisle hoping to find herself. Before she knew it the cart was filled with all the things that journalist shouldn’t have- you know cookies and shit. “If I’m gonna do it, I might as well go all the way!” In went a red blend, a rosé and local craft beer. She missed beer from her undergrad days, refused to indulge the bulge it gives folks. She got home, put on her oversized Mizzou hoodie, left her pants by the living room and did what every human should do at least once- whatever the hell you like. She caught up on Scandal while inhaling Tate’s chocolate chip cookies and dipping ghost pepper trader Joe chips into spinach artichoke dip. To hell with it all.


Into that second bottle of wine she thought it’d be a good idea to draft a resignation letter- not to actually send but ya know- therapy. She types the first message filled with sobering remarks about each of her teammates. Describes how Bob’s mug always smells like more bourbon than coffee. How Barb should get rid of her mullet that she calls a haircut. She laughs hysterically before deleting it. She then starts a second email- she’s going to take this one seriously. “To whom it concerns, I Audrey Klotzman are resigning effective immediately…” Even reading this email makes her cry. She’d never be brave enough to actually quit. So she cried on her Mac book pro and because it’s hella expensive decides to wipe it off with her hoodie. She closes the now dry laptop and goes to bed. What she doesn’t know is during the wiping, she hit send.


She wakes up the next morning to check her email one hour earlier than her colleagues- it’s been her go-to way to show the higher ups she’s committed. Her manager has crafted the driest well wishing email you ever wanted to read. “Thank you for your service and good luck”. She doesn’t know if she’s more offended that Jim didn’t fight for her (or even inquire) or if she just made the biggest mistake of her life. She’s jobless. Cut off from her parent’s wealth and strangely feeling lighter. She decides she going to open a pottery studio and will wait table until she saves enough. Waiting tables at “Slice of Heaven” pie shop ain’t exactly where the money resides until in walks this handsome guy looking for directions to a hotel in the more populated town over. He’s dressed in a suit and has kind eyes. Hair is gelled down, slim cut suit, cognac brown shoes, ray-ban glasses and a fragrance that haunts her. “Well, I don’t know where that is but we have amazing strawberry rhubarb pie.” His momma used to make his that growing up...


Stay tuned for Part 2.

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