“La Vie En Rose” is a story inspired by manifestations. It is a reminder that women can do whatever they want, and that when someone doubts us it only encourages us to rise to the occasion. It is a fictionalized account of a life that many young girls dream of, but most importantly it is a reminder that dreams can and will become our realities ... no matter what obstacles stand before them.
Stella woke up fourteen minutes before her alarm – it was today, it was the day. She pulled up her sleep mask, slipped out of her silk bed sheets and into the chair of her thrifted vanity. She stared at the reflection of her baby face and took a deep breath, and then using her pink Dior lipstick she wrote on the mirror, “Seize the day.” Stella then stepped into her fully furnished walk-in closet, the room of her apartment that she put all of her money towards. She examined the posters of fashion models and designer logos hung upon her walls and began flipping through her hung clothes piece by piece: what to wear?
Stella performed an embarrassingly amateur fashion show for her cat Lolita, trying on about all of her favourite outfits. Her second alarm went off, and realizing she was going to be late, she quickly decided on cropped black trousers, a tight black turtleneck, and black strappy heels. Stella then ran to the kitchen, nearly stepping on her beloved Lolita, and tripping over her heels multiple times. She ate a bowl of low-fat granola, grabbed her over-worn YSL trench coat, and headed outside towards the train station. Walking along the crowded sidewalk and through the misty air, Stella smiled at every stranger that passed her. What a beautiful day.
The train ride through New York City was forty-minutes long, but to Stella it felt like an eternity. She listened to Daniela Andrade’s cover of “La Vie En Rose” on repeat, a song that always calmed her down. Stella’s philosophy of life was that beauty can be found in everything, even in the darkest moments that the universe has to offer – she saw the world through a rose-colored lens. She took the compact mirror out of her wallet, re-applied her lipstick, and smiled back at her reflection. She felt confident; she had worked for this, she had come all this way.
Shortly before Stella’s arrival, a tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed man took a seat beside her. He looked like the type of man that slept with a new college student every night. “Who are you all dressed up for?” he murmured, a little too close to her face. Stella knew that if she answered, she would trigger the nerves that she was desperately trying to avoid. Don’t think about it, she said to herself, as the flashbacks of interrogation and discouragement crept up. Instead, she pretended that she could not hear over the music from her earphones, and she turned her attention to the Vogue article on her lap. Stella squeezed her eyes tight shut and tried to cancel out the world around her. She was not going to let anything, or anyone distract her – not today.
The train arrived at the station a few minutes later than scheduled. Stella took a deep breath, everything will work out the way it’s supposed to. She got out of her seat and started on her way, but she was rudely pushed and shoved by the impatient passengers surrounding her. She continued to smile as she carried on, reminding herself that today was her day. There was a slight breeze in the air and the sun had appeared to vanish, but to Stella, today was still perfect— it had to be. She opened her phone to check the time, hoping it was passing slower than it felt – 10:52 a.m., she had some time to spare. She felt herself begin to calm down, but her fear instantly re-appeared a few seconds later when a white puddle dropped on her beige sleeve from the sky. She immediately stopped in the middle of the chaotic city sidewalk, turned her head up towards the sky and gasped at the pact of black birds flying in a triangular formation. Not only was her sleeve dirty, but it was wet as well, and she didn’t even want to consider the smell. Today is not my day.
New Yorkers passed Stella by the millisecond as she stood frozen. She put her hand over her eyes and she began to cry, almost forgetting just how confident she had felt that morning. She let out a deep sigh. No, she thought to herself, I cannot give up, I won’t, not a chance. She wiped the single tear that had trailed down her cheek with her fingertip, careful not to wipe off any of the highlighter on her cheek. She was so close, she would get to her destination as quickly as possible and clean her jacket once she arrived. After releasing a deep breath, pushing her hair behind her ears, and faking a too-open-mouth smile, Stella began to strut down the damp sidewalk of 32nd Street.
Here it is. Stella stood outside of a large building covered completely in glass. She tilted her head back and scanned the building from top to bottom – it was so tall, and she felt so small. She read the sign that hung above the tall entrance doors, Star Magazine. The building seemed like a labyrinth to the in-experienced graduate and she began to wonder how much time she would need to find the editorial office. She decided that she better get moving. She looked down at her filthy sleeve, embarrassed to be walking into a business of so much wealth as anything less-than perfect. It was such a small stain, but the more Stella stared at it the more she became insecure. She felt her fingers begin to tingle and her breathing to shorten. What if they didn’t like her portfolio, and said she was a bad writer? What if they could tell her bag was from a thrift store? What if they were looking for someone prettier? Stella felt ashamed of herself, she knew she shouldn’t, but she did. What if the smallest of stains on her coat sleeve could ruin her reputation? Stella felt a puddle of sweat forming above her forehead, she felt dizzy and faint, she shut her eyes and tried to hold the tears back, I can’t do this.
It all came rushing back to her – the doubting, the mocking, the years of anxiety. She could hear her mother’s voice echoing within her mind: “You’re wasting your money, Stella. Everyone knows that an English degree is unmarketable – good luck finding a job.” She remembered all the fights her dreams had caused within her family, how unloved and unsupported her parents had made her feel. She thought about all of the times her old boyfriend would say that she was far too average to be wealthy; that she was no Elle Woods, no Miranda Priestly, nothing like any of the people she had aspired to be. Stella’s chest felt heavy, her mind went blank. Maybe, they were all right. Maybe, she should have given up a long time ago. She had made it this far, but what did that matter? To Stella it didn’t matter, because nothing mattered in this moment, and all she wanted was to be back in her bed waking up next to Lolita.
Stella ran. She ran faster than she ever had before. She ripped off her heels and ran about three blocks barefoot. She found the nearest Starbucks and entered it. She pushed through the customers and bolted towards the bathroom. Ignoring eye contact with everyone, Stella ran into the very last stall and she locked it shut. She stood hunched over the toilet, feeling like she might vomit. Tears streamed down her face. She couldn’t stop. She cried until her fake eyelashes were in the toilet, and her makeup made trail marks that rolled off her chin. She began to feel faint and her lungs ached. Stella sat on the toilet and stared at the walls, she imagined how the rest of her life would go. She would have to return home, work for her father, admit to her mother that she was right. I am a failure.
Stella sat slouched on the toilet seat. She stared at the colorful graffiti that covered the walls of the bathroom stall, without actually reading any of it. The tears were slowly stopping but she didn’t feel any better. She felt like her life was over, like she had lost everything she had spent so long working for. But then, something hit her. It literally hit her. She could hear a mother yelling the way hers used to, and a child giggling in the distance. She wasn’t sure which one threw it, but shoes began to fly. A pink, size two child’s slipper laid on the floor in front of her. Stella could swear she used to own one just like it. She stared at the shoe for a few seconds, trying to process the series of events that she had just experienced – it all happened so fast. Her train of thought was disrupted by the sight of a little girl crawling under her stall laughing. She looked as if she was seven or eight, Stella thought she was adorable. “Melissa Sancho!” screamed the girl’s mother, emphasizing the M, “Don’t you ever enter someone’s stall!” This made Stella release a slight smile. When she caught herself smiling, she was upset that she had let herself get, in fact, upset. By the time Stella had realized this, the girl and her shoe had vanished. Stella did not mind the child’s intrusion, but rather, she was grateful for it. She laughed as she thought about how it would have gone if she had actually been using the bathroom, thank God.
The child reminded Stella of her younger self. She reminded her of being seven, of being a little girl with big dreams. Stella thought not only about being young, but she thought about how she had felt that same morning as well. She was ashamed that she had let the same people she had left behind still continue to manipulate her, to stand in her way. But it was not too late. Stella got up from the toilet. She wiped her face with her hands and exhaled with her eyes closed. “I can do this,” she said aloud. I am going to do this.
When Stella was calm and ready, she opened the stall door and walked towards the bathroom sinks. As she did this, she noticed how packed the bathroom was – there were women of all ages and sizes waiting in line for their turn. Stella laughed to herself, she wondered how many of them had heard her having a breakdown. A few of them looked at her weirdly as she giggled, but that just made it funnier. Stella opened her purse and pulled out her makeup case. As quickly as she could, she re-applied, and wiped her dirty sleeve. A mark from the bird still remained, but it was good enough. She barely looked at herself in the mirror and then she left; she had realized by this point that her appearance was the least of her worries.
Stella exited the Starbucks and entered back into the busy streets— back to reality. She waved down a cab and sat in the back seat. The first thing she did was check the time – 11:37a.m. She felt an odd calmness for her usual self, for the self that had an interview in twenty-three minutes. After this day, Stella knew that some things were just out of her control. She decided that instead of faking her confidence in life, she would actually have it, and this meant being okay with the possibility of failure. She decided that she had to move on; that she had to either make peace with the life she left behind in Toronto, or she had to let it go. Stella realized that she could not continue to see life through a rose-colored lens – that life is not always pink, but sometimes it’s black, sometimes it’s grey. No more faking happiness, she thought – she wanted to actually find it.
By the time Stella left the cab driver, she had ten more minutes. The sun had come out by now, and it truly was turning out to be a beautiful afternoon. She sat on a bench outside the building of Star Magazine. She began dialing.
“Hi, mom. Uh, it’s Stella. I know you’ve been calling, I’ve been quite busy lately, actually. I’ve been working on some stories, and I – I actually have an interview at a magazine today. Thought you would want to know, thought you might be proud. Anyways, call me sometime, if you want.”
Stella took a deep breath after hanging up, she had no idea what her mother would think of her message. She wasn’t sure if it was the child that inspired her decision, or why she did it, but she knew it would be one step closer to finding inner peace.
Stella opened the tall glass doors of the building and walked in with her head held high. As she walked, she admired the beautiful girls, and their beautiful outfits, and their beautiful bags. Stella decided that it was okay if she didn’t get the job. That she was proud enough of herself for making it this far, and that was good enough. She stood in the elevator beside a gorgeous man – he had curly brown hair, pale skin, and appeared to be above six feet tall – she tried not to blush. “You must be Stella Tyler,” he spoke. “I’ll be interviewing you for the position today, are you ready?” he smiled. Stella smiled back, “As ready as I’ll ever be.” Stella followed closely behind the man as he led her to a big glass room on the fourth floor. Her heels clicked against the marble and her curls bounced with each step she took, and with the stain from the bird still resting on her coat sleeve, Stella walked into her interview as if it really had been the perfect day.