Authors: Isabella Jones
© Isabella Jones 2013. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute or transmit in any form or by any means.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental. The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following brands/products/organizations mentioned in this work of fiction: SATs, True Religion, Lady Gaga, iPhone, Birkin, Bic, Town Car, Platinum Card, Harvard University, Yale University, Miss Porter’s, Nightingale-Bamford, ITF, Chanel, Tod’s, Dollywood, Powerball, The New York Public Library, Liberace, Nikon, Page Six, Alexander McQueen, Elle Decor, Nobel Prizes, Outward Bound, Tom Ford, Gucci, Nike, Pilates, Starbucks, Frappuccino, H&M, Barneys New York, the Olympic Games, Superman, Barbour, Hunter, Time-Warner, Jenny Craig, Ty Pennington, Justin Bieber, and Girl Scouts.
Adult Content Warning: This story contains sexually explicit acts involving consenting adults. It is not intended for minors under the age of eighteen.
“Tell me, Miss Prescott, why have you applied to Lexington College?”
The admissions officer, who has been studying my application package for the last minute or so, closes the folder and carefully places her gold pen next to it. Then she fixes me with a look that’s not quite a glare but more unfriendly than a stare.
Potential answers fight for expression inside my head. Like, “I applied because I couldn’t get into Harvard.” Or, “I applied because my mom went here.” And the response I’m sure this admissions officer would really love: “I applied because my father just gave this school many millions of dollars to keep me out of trouble for the next four years, and even though my high school grades sucked and no other college on the east coast will touch me, Lexington College
to admit me, so why don’t you take that file and—”
I shake myself out of my reverie and deliver a practiced smile to the admissions officer.
“I’ve always wanted to go to Lexington,” I say. (Not true. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to go to college.) “My mother talks constantly about how her four years at Lexington were the best of her life.” (True. And sad if you think about it.) “When we drove onto the campus today, I could see why she’s spoken highly of the quality of education she received here.” (It’s true we drove through the campus, but the rest is pure BS.) “So I guess that’s why I’ve applied.”
For the first time since we’ve sat down, the admissions officer cracks a hint of a smile. “It’s interesting you could discern the quality of Lexington academics merely by driving through the campus.”
Now it’s my turn to fix her with a venomous look, but she doesn’t seem to notice and instead flips the folder on her desk open again.
“Let’s see … you left Miss Porter’s with a 2.75 GPA. But then you scored over 760 on your SAT verbals. We won’t talk about your math scores. Very little in the way of extracurriculars …”
“I joined the track team my senior year,” I interrupt. “And I spent a year in France doing, um, volunteer work.”
“Volunteer work,” she repeats. “In France. What kind of volunteer work?”
“Well, it was more like an internship,” I say.
“I see. What kind of internship?” Again, she’s giving me that look. And it’s not exactly friendly.
“Oh, this and that, wherever I was needed.” I casually brush some imaginary lint off my True Religion jeans. My mother was a little peeved that I refused to wear one of the dorky outfits that had magically appeared in my luggage, but I assured her denim goes anywhere, from urban clubs and restaurants to college admission offices in the middle of nowhere. It’s all in the styling. “With an organization you’ve probably never heard of.”
“Try me,” the woman says smoothly.
“The RSVP Charitable Foundation,” I mumble. She doesn’t need to know that I only checked in there each morning before I spent the rest of the day raiding boutiques in Faubourg Saint-Honoré.
She snaps the folder shut again. “RSVP,” she says. “You mean Roth Silver Valentine Prescott, quite possibly the largest luxury brand holding company in the world. And your last name is Prescott. What a coincidence.”
The admissions lady practically spits the last part out, as if she’s found the worm in the apple.
This isn’t the way my “admissions interview” was supposed to go. My mother said they’d ask me a few questions, maybe even try to sell me on Lexington, and then rubber stamp my application with an acceptance. I could then spend the next few months anticipating the hell of spending four years in an ivy-smothered institution, two hours away from the nearest heliport and filled with either pathetic scholarship cases or dumb-as-rocks trust funders who didn’t get into their first—or second or third—choices. Sign me up.
“I’m going to speak frankly, Miss Prescott.”
“You can call me Amanda.” I smile. I’m trying not to make it a fuck-you smile because even though I hold all the power in the room, my father will be pissed if I screw up even a little bit getting in to a college where they’re going to name a humanities building after my mother.
“Miss Prescott, I’m aware that your family has a … special relationship with Lexington College. But let me assure you, your acceptance isn’t guaranteed. The admissions board will take my recommendation whether to let you in—or not—very seriously. Your father’s kind and generous endowment to the college is appreciated by many in administration. But here in admissions, it’s not a given that you’ll be moving into a dorm this fall.”
I can feel the blood drain from my face. Cripes, I’ve stuck my foot in it again, and honestly, I came into this interview determined not to screw things up. I can practically hear my father’s voice inside my head telling me that I’m too damn arrogant and need to be taken down a notch or two. What’s he always saying? “You need to see how the ‘other half’ lives”? He’s a bit touchy here because he was born into “the other half,” raised by a single mother in a podunk Pennsylvania town, making his way through Harvard and Yale Law on the grace of academic scholarships. If he were peeking in on this interview, I’m sure he’d be loving it, while my mother would be next to him saying, “Oh Mark, help her. We can’t let her fail like this!” And my dad, because he can’t say no to my mother, would step in to save the day. But yeah, he’d probably send this admissions officer—Valerie Gowan, the brass nameplate on her desk says—a Birkin bag, the size of which she’s never seen before, for calling me on my shit.
But that’s in my head. In reality, not even my mother would step in to help this time. My father, during a very serious conversation, has told me he’s tired of my “antics.” He wakes up every morning wondering if it’s going to be Lady Gaga, one of Bernie Ecclestone’s daughters, or me dancing nude on Page Six. He’s convinced my mother that at twenty-one, it’s time for me to grow up, build a future, and become a productive member of society. The way they lay it out for me sounds so boring: college, maybe grad school if I have the grades, then some kind of “career” before I meet a nice guy and spend the rest of my days planning charity balls in between squeezing out Prescott descendants. My parents have all but paved the road leading to Lexington College with gold, but from the look on Valerie Gowan’s face, I’m about fifteen seconds away from hitting that road so she can interview someone she feels is more deserving of a college education.
I notice the hard look on her face has softened—maybe she can see the sweat pricking out on my forehead as I think about how I’m going to tell my father I’ve blown the last chance he’s given me—and she opens her top desk drawer to pull out what looks like a business card. She glances down at it, then at me, then back down at the card again. Great. She’s going to advise me to see a psychiatrist … like I’ve never been advised of that before.
“Before I make a decision on your acceptance—or otherwise—I’d like you to meet with someone.”
“I have a therapist,” I say. “Two, in fact.” It’s kind of the truth. I’m between therapists right now due to my busy social schedule.
“Oh, I’m not recommending therapy,” she says with a smile. “I’d like you to meet someone special. Someone who was once in your shoes who graduated from Lexington and has gone on to do some great things.”
She slides the card across her desk, but as I’m about to pick it up, she snatches it back. I jump because her reaction is so swift.
“I will give you this card on one condition.”
The look on Valerie Gowan’s face is hard to read. Serious. Even a little scared. My curiosity is piqued.
“You never got this card from our admissions office.”
I continue to study the admissions officer’s face, but she only gazes back at me with that weird look. This interview, which started out as uncomfortable and even a little combative, has now turned … creepy.
But I can deal with creepy. I even like creepy. A little.
I shake my head. “I never got it from you.”
“No,” she corrects me. “You never got it from the admissions office.”
I shrug. “Sure, whatever. Now are you going to give it to me?”
Again, she slides the card across her desk, but this time she does it with more reluctance. I’m quick to grab it before she can pull it away.
I turn the ecru card over in my hand. Impressive. I know good stationery by touch, and this is cotton paper. Engraved.
,” I read aloud, and I relax. “Oh, this is like one of those college preparatory programs.”
Valerie Gowan smiles, the nicest one she’s given me the whole time I’ve been with her.
“You could say that,” she says.
I mindlessly twist the business card in the pocket of my blazer while my mother and I walk around the college campus, which is actually kind of pretty in a postcard kind of way. The grounds are blooming with daffodils and narcissi, and the buildings, many of which look quite old, seem alive with activity: doors opening and slamming shut in the bright spring afternoon, students calling out plans to each other from windows, high-minded professors conversing about Aristotle’s concept of chance as they pass us by, their baser natures emerging when they pause to check out our asses.
My mother’s ecstatic to be back at her alma mater. She’s like a little kid, bouncing down the walkways, eagerly pointing out all the landmarks she remembers from her college days in the 1980s: the hall where her sociology professor yelled at her for knitting during his lecture, the dorm where she first met my father on a blind date, the site that used to be the student center where she picketed against apartheid in South Africa, and finally, the space that will one day be the Julia B. Prescott Humanities Building.
“Oh, Amanda, isn’t is wonderful?” She takes my hand and squeezes it. “You’re going to be a Lexington grad!”
I fight the urge to roll my eyes at my mother’s hokey outburst. “Mom, I don’t even know if I got in, so let’s not leap to graduation.”
“Of course you got in,” she says. “Or will get in, I should say. What’s to stop you?”
(Subtext: We paid millions of dollars to get you into this ivory tower.)
I fondle the heavy card in my pocket.
You never got this card from our admissions office.
“They could say no.”
“Pfft. Daddy wouldn’t hear of it.” My mother thinks about that for a moment, then turns to me. “Did something happen during the interview? You’ve been rather quiet since.”
“No, it went fine,” I lie. “Just like you said it would. She asked a few questions, gave me some tips, showed me a map … that sort of thing.”
“Because if it didn’t …” my mother starts.
“Mom, really, everything’s great. Forget about it. The campus is really pretty. What else do you want to show me?”
My mother studies me for a moment, then suddenly she’s back to her Lexington College head cheerleader role. If I utter a single word about this
business, she’ll go all relentless on me. We head toward the campus arboretum, which my mother claims she’s dying to see. She leads the way, chattering about this and that while I people-watch a couple paces behind her.
I begin to notice something very odd. For a college deep in New England’s countryside, there’s a high percentage of good-looking students on campus. Not the whole-food-and-clean-living kind of attractiveness you’d expect to find in a place like this, but the exotic, sophisticated beauty you see only in places like Rio and Rome and the Riviera. As we walk toward these students, male and female, alone or in groups, I can see them snap to attention, their gazes traveling slowly over my body, and their glances—dark, knowing, almost animalistic—lock with mine for a moment before we pass. It gives me goosebumps because it’s almost a look of recognition, like we’ve met before. And I’m 1000% sure we haven’t.