Against the Grain

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Naya has always seen life as one big opportunity to shine and make your name known, much to her mother's dismay. Never one to stay fixated on a hobby for long, Naya finds herself captivated by the world of fashion design. With this new passion driving her existence, she pours her heart and soul into every sketch and stitch, trying to make her mother see that her new hobby means so much more to her. But, in trying to prove her sincerity, she assumes more responsibility than she may be able to handle. Will Naya burn herself out, or will she finally gain the maternal support she so desperately craves?

Against the Grain

No one ever seemed to understand the grandeur of Naya’s dreams and life goals. When Naya thought about all the pessimistic views thrown her way, they absolutely boggled her mind. It didn’t make sense when people told her that her dreams were too big and unrealistic, that she needed to pull her head out of the clouds and focus on what was real in life. Her family, teachers, and friends would always tell her that the world was her oyster, but when she decided to share what she thought was a shining pearl of creativity and splendor with them, she would get shut down at every turn.

“You can do anything you want to baby,” her mother would say. But when she told her mother about her dreams of being a famous Broadway starlet, the message would change drastically.

“It’s nice to have dreams and fantasies pumpkin, but you gotta remember that we live in the real world, and in the real world you need to go to school to get an education that’s gonna help you get a real, decent job to support yourself,” was the only response she got.

What was Naya supposed to believe? It was true that her dreams and hopes changed on an almost weekly basis, but she knew she wanted more out of life than the boring realities her mother always proposed to her. How could she reach for the stars and take advantage of her world if she didn’t have anyone’s support? Naya was all alone with her aspirations, but she never lost heart. Though she didn’t have a support system, and sometimes people would laugh in her face, Naya knew that she was destined for greatness, and she was not going to let depressive realists like her mother stand in her way.

Once she started her freshman year of high school, Naya took a sewing class to fill an empty spot in her schedule. Though that was her original intent, she soon found that she loved the class and she became immersed in the magical world of fabrics.

How much fun! Naya thought. All this time I’ve spent going through life and I’ve never tried this before? I’ve been denying myself happiness!

Now she may have stretched the truth just a little bit. Any person who truly knows Naya knows that she would never deny herself any happiness, but dramatics make up her wonderful personality, and she was right. Every single step of the sewing process completely enthralled Naya, and she simply couldn’t get enough of the blissful trance that the process would thrust her into.

“I’m addicted!” She said back at home, “I’ve never been moved by something the way sewing and designing moves me. The drawing, the colors, the fabric, the patterns, the threads! It all takes me away to another world! A world that’s mine, and I absolutely love it mama … I think this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

“Sweetheart I’m happy that you get so much joy out of this, but do you know how hard it is to actually be a designer? Maybe you could sew a little here and there for your friends and us, but you need to find something real and stationary that you have a good skill set for, and strive for success in that.”

There it was. The reason that Naya hated sharing dreams with her mother. Naya loved her mother as much as any other girl would but she had to wonder to herself, why was this woman wired this way? What had happened to her in her life that had made her so quick to stomp on Naya’s dreams? She didn’t know and she knew that she might not ever know but she wasn’t going to let that deter her. Though it was exceedingly small, Naya’s mother had opened a window to her, and she was going to eke her way out of it, no matter how long it would take.

“Could I at least get a machine so that I can sew in the house?” Naya said, scared of another well disguised no.

“… Give me a month,” Naya’s mother said, “and I’ll see what I can do.”

Naya knew if her mother had strictly said, “let me see what I can do,” this whole endeavor would be a lost cause, but she had been given a time estimate. Even though she knew it might take her longer than a month to get her own machine, she was more than happy to receive a well disguised yes opposed to another no. She hugged and thanked her mother then ran upstairs to her room. Once she was safe in her private, fanciful kingdom of whimsy, she sat at her desk and hurried through her homework so she could sketch out all of the new fashion creations swarming around in her head.

When Naya walked into school the next day, the entire student body could sense that she had an entirely new energy about herself. Even those who had never spoken to her could tell that something was different. She gladly trudged through her five hours of seemingly menial classes until she could go to sixth hour and sew with her fellow thread heads, the name that she and her fellow classmates had given themselves. Though all of her friends in the class were obvious needlework enthusiasts, none of them were as driven as Naya. It was obvious that she had more passion for the art than even the instructor, and that passion expressed itself beautifully in her work. Naya poured her heart and soul into every piece she stitched together, and each masterpiece she created was more gorgeous than the last.

Soon students in all of her classes were asking for her expertise with all types of wardrobe related issues, and she was more than happy to aide them as she waited for her promised sewing machine. She worked until she had to be pulled away, physically, from her fabrics. With her mother’s permission, her teacher allowed Naya to stay after school to finish various projects for other students, and even a few of her own. Naya’s greatest challenge came when a few cast members for her school’s winter musical production came to her after class let out one day. They asked her if it would be possible to add some much needed pizzazz to their on stage wardrobe that the faculty and administrators failed to update every year the way they would promise. Though her workload was already tremendous, she felt that she was more than capable of taking on the challenge. She happily took on the task and made it top priority to have the cast looking as fabulous as she possibly could on their opening night.

Needless to say, taking on this great challenge meant spending even more time sewing than she already did. This was welcome news to Naya. She already loved cutting fabric, stitching edges together through the magnificent humming machines, and pressing hemlines to perfection. Naya had absolutely no problem spending extra time diligently practicing her craft, she felt that this was just another sign signifying that sewing was what she was meant to do in life. Happily, Naya continued to work the day away in the free hours she had after school, but others weren’t so happy about Naya’s increased workload.

For a week, Naya ended up staying at the school so late that she would have to leave the building with her instructor. One evening Naya left her school’s campus particularly late, and it was clear that she was exhausted and upset that she was made to leave before she could finish her work.

“Naya,” her mother said, “I know that you love what you’re doing and you think that it’s fun, but look at you. You’re tired and you’re staying at school later than most of the staff. I don’t think you should stay after school like this anymore.”

“But ma-“ Naya began.

“Which,” said her mother, “is why I think you should go to your room as soon as we get back to the house and get some rest. You’ve definitely earned it.”

Naya sat back with her arms crossed for the rest of the car ride home without another word to her mother. When they got back to the house, Naya reluctantly ascended the stairs to her room to do as she was told. To her surprise, when she opened the door to her room and began to throw her bag of creations onto her desk, she noticed a giant gift wrapped box. She beamed and quickly started tearing off the paper, screaming in delight when she finally got the perfect parcel unwrapped. She had finally gotten her sewing machine and all was right in her world. Now she could work from home and hop straight into bed whenever she started to feel groggy after a long, hard day of productivity. For all the giggling and happy squealing Naya was doing, she managed to calm down enough to realize her mother had a very rare change of heart. She couldn’t help but wonder what brought this odd occurrence about, and she needed answers.

Naya raced back down the stairs to speak with her mother. After hugging her and expressing her endless gratitude, she let go of her mother, preparing to grill the woman for the answers Naya felt she rightfully deserved. While her mother continued to tell her how happy she was to see Naya so thrilled, Naya was busy preparing herself for what was sure to be a grueling conversation full of withholding on her mother’s part. Naya simply asked her mother what had led her to change her mind. She had expected the question to be met with an irritated groan, or a sigh of exasperation, but she was pleasantly surprised when actual words followed her inquiry.

Naya’s mother admitted that she wasn’t always the most supportive matriarch she could be, that sometimes her words would dishearten Naya, and even if it may not have seemed like it, she could always tell when Naya had been emotionally bruised by another unintentional put down. She told Naya that she was only trying to help her realize that the world is tough, and even if there’s something you really want to do, you have to eat and live, so you need a real, consistently paying job in order to effectively support yourself. Naya was shocked to hear her mother admit that she was wrong for trying to force her to believe these hard truths instead of encouraging her creativity. She apologized to Naya for the years of well disguised no’s she’d been subjected to, and promised Naya that she was going to try and be more open minded from now on. An admission, regret, and an apology all in less than five minutes from the very woman who seemed immovable about everything? Naya couldn’t believe her ears, she knew that whatever happened for her to be able to get a sewing machine and all of this information out of her mother, it must have been a pretty big deal. She absolutely had to know what brought on this revelation now. It all seemed too good to be true, but she had to make sure there was truth and reason to everything that had just been said.

Before she was given more time to contemplate, her mother was telling Naya to follow her to what was once her grandmother’s, Grammy’s, room in their house. Naya’s mother opened the door when they finally reached the room. They barely ever came here since Grammy passed away, something about the room seemed forbidden now that she no longer lived there. As the light turned on, Naya took in all of the untouched memories that resided in the room and watched the dust motes float and dance about through the air. Looking at the room’s far wall, Naya’s mother stood, looking up at pictures of a young, beautiful, mahogany skinned ballet dancer, standing on her tiptoes in every picture. Naya joined her mother just as she asked whether or not Grammy had ever told her about these pictures. They’d never had a conversation about them, Naya just always assumed that they were old pictures of Grammy from when she was young. As if she hadn’t already had enough, Naya’s mother stunned her once again by telling Naya that she was the young girl in the ballet photos.

She told Naya that she had started dancing at a very young age, younger than Naya now. She was a very talented dancer and she absolutely loved lacing up her slippers, then going on stage to write a story through movement. Because she gushed grace, elegance, talent, precision, and accuracy, she was her instructor’s favorite student, and the instructor would insist that Naya’s mother had enough of a gift to become a highly successful dancer. After hearing that, the fame and fortune was all she wanted, and she was more than willing to make sacrifices in order to accomplish her goal. Naya’s mother practiced and rehearsed tirelessly. The older and stronger she became, the harder she pushed herself to new levels of greatness.

During her senior year of high school, Naya’s mother pushed herself more than she ever had in her entire dancing life. She was ready to start auditioning with performing arts schools and to be recognized on a grand scale for the talent she had. She was ready to start her career as a highly regarded and sought after ballerina. She was prepared to take life by the horns and ride the ferocious beast to her destiny, a destiny that was sure to bring her happiness. Applying her superb perfectionist skills, she’d managed to find a way to successfully prepare for every event the coming school year would throw her way. Every event aside from being asked to prom by the young man who would soon become Naya’s father.

Naya’s mother had never been to a school dance, or danced just for fun before, so she decided to go to prom with the boy. She was ultimately happy that she went. Hanging out with her friends, dancing the night away, and getting her first kiss were all exactly what she needed to calm herself down from the stress she had heaped onto her already busy schedule. Sadly, her naivety hadn’t prepared her for being invited to the young man’s hotel room after prom.

Even though he was still there with her the next morning, he talked to her nice, drove her home, and everything seemed fine, she felt like something was different in a wrong way. The symptoms soon came and it was clear that she was pregnant. It took her a moment to accept that this baby would mean putting all of her life goals on hold, but it had to be done. When she called the father to let him know the news, he was very pleasant, but he also made it very clear that he wanted nothing to do with her or the baby. Though she tried to convince him fathering the child was the right thing to do, he wasn’t going to have any parts of it.

Now, on her own, pregnant, sick, and deeply depressed with hopelessly shattered dreams, there was nothing she could do but try putting the same vigor into being the best mother she could. She never looked at a pair of ballet slippers again; but with Grammy’s help, she found a decent assembly line job, and when Naya came into the world, she received all the love and attention her mother and Grammy had to offer. 

“It wasn’t fair for me to try and shift your focus just because I didn’t have a choice when mine got shifted,” Naya’s mother said, “I love you Naya and I am so incredibly proud of you. Your drive reminds me of the drive I used to have. If you’re gonna try to make it into the fashion industry, then I’m gonna support you one hundred percent. I believe in you, even when it seems like I don’t, I always do.”

Despite her best efforts not to, Naya was crying. Crying tears of sorrow for the dreams her mother would never be able to realize, and tears of joy from finally hearing her mother say that she believed in Naya’s dreams. She gave her mother a giant hug, apologized for all that had happened in her past, told her that no one could have ever done a better job raising her than she and Grammy, and promised her mother that her drive would never run out. The hug was reciprocated before Naya told her mother how much she loved her and headed back upstairs.

Naya was excited and she desperately wanted to make use of her new mechanical friend right this instant. As if her body could sense this sudden energetic impulse inside her, a stop was put to it as soon as she reached the threshold between the hallway and her room. Naya had left school exhausted, and her body wasn’t going to allow her to put it through sleep deprivation any longer. Once she entered her room, fatigue hit her like an enormous weight slumped onto her shoulders. She couldn’t fight the tiredness that was beginning to physically over take her body, so she gave into it. Feeling defeated, she climbed into her bed and pulled the covers over herself, not even bothering to change into her pajamas. She got as cozy as she possibly could, sleepy tears forming in her eyes as she began yawning uncontrollably. Before curling up under her blankets, she turned toward the machine and smiled at it with a creative love in her eyes. Her eyes finally shut after a long fight not to, and she fell asleep dreaming of further fashion endeavors.

Though she woke up late the next morning, Naya rose from her bed feeling reinvigorated and ready to attack the day. Bounding down the stairs, she pounced on the breakfast that her mother had made. Her mother stared at her with wide-astonished eyes as Naya explained her plan for the day and exactly how everything needed to go. First, she had to go to the one day cleaners to drop off a few of the costumes she had already done. She absolutely had to have these back to the cast by Tuesday, happy that it was Saturday so she could pick them up Monday to be delivered. There were only two more on stage ensembles that she had to add accents and make adjustments to. On one she still had to sew a full skirt, but she knew if she got them done early enough she could take them to the cleaners today too. For her to be able to do so, she needed to make a trip to the fabric store as early as possible. Now that she had her own machine, she could work through the weekend, and she was determined to do so.

All Naya needed was her mother’s yay or nay, and after the moment the two of them shared together last night, Naya sincerely hoped that her mother was willing to make good on her promise of helping her live her fashionista dreams. The look on her mother’s face was not reassuring at all. She looked like she was alarmed, confused, and thinking hard all at once.

Oh God, Naya thought, I’ve thrown her for a loop by taking her word and running with it, and now I’m never gonna be able to get what I need to finish my projects! I’ll let everyone down! The cast, the crew, the teachers, the parents! No one will ever come to me for anything wardrobe related ever again, and it’s all because I couldn’t keep my big, fat mouth shu-

“Okay,” Naya’s mother said, interrupting her daughter’s hysterical thought processes. “You just gotta tell me where I need to go and if there’s anything I can do.”

Did she just hear correctly? Not only was her mother willing to tote her around, but she was offering her assistance to Naya as well. She beamed at her and told her that she’d be more than happy to tell her everything she needed to know so the two of them could adequately help each other out. After finishing their breakfast, the two ladies prepared themselves for the adventures the day would hold. When they were ready, they set out to tackle all the tasks on their day’s agenda.

The trip to the cleaners was successful and gave the ladies a boost of confidence that added to their already bountiful energy levels. While they were at the fabric store, Naya and her mother struggled a little to find the exact fabric they needed in order to make the costume skirt. Naya’s mother found a sales associate and asked if she could help them, bringing Naya over to the girl to explain exactly what it was she needed and how she intended to use it. The girl said she knew where the fabric was and led Naya to it, but something in the tone of the girl’s voice sounded off. As Naya thanked the associate, grabbing the bolt of fabric and caressing it, the girl told Naya that she was very ambitious. As the girl kept talking she told Naya that she’d never known anyone who planned to attempt what Naya was with such a sturdy fabric and finish in one day. The sales associate went on to further explain that even the most experienced of seamstresses she knew weren’t able to construct a garment from a fabric so bulky in the course of a day. Naya thanked the young woman for all of her help and proceeded to the cutting counter with an uncomfortable worry lump in her throat.

On the drive back home, Naya’s mother noticed that her daughter was being unnaturally silent in the passenger seat. She turned to see Naya looking forlorn and staring out of the window, not gazing at her fabric store finds with ecstatic, loving eyes the way she usually would be. Naya’s mother knew exactly what was wrong and she told Naya that she shouldn’t let what the girl at the fabric store said get to her. Maybe Naya was new to the world of sewing and clothing design, but she had a natural gift for it, and that gift provided her with immense talent and persistence. She told Naya that she had more dedication to sewing than most grown people had to their own families and that that wasn’t a quality to be overlooked when assessing this certain situation in full. It was possible that Naya could start and finish the skirt today, just as much as it was possible that Naya could start the skirt today and not finish it until tomorrow. It didn’t matter when Naya did or didn’t finish the skirt as long as she put her all into making it, which her mother knew she would do no matter what happened. She was confident that her daughter would do the best job she possibly could trying to make the skirt as stage ready as she could, and she made sure to let Naya know that she wouldn’t have to do it alone, she was there to help her in any way that she could.

Naya felt a bit embarrassed that her emotions were so easy to read, but she found herself relieved that her mother realized she was in a funk and tried to help her through it. The pep talk lifted her spirits a bit and she was able to see the wisdom in her mother’s words. The only person imposing these mini deadlines on Naya was Naya, and she was not a girl who liked to live her life wondering whether she was effectively managing time or squandering it terribly. She was able to relax now and enjoy the rest of the car ride home. When they got back to the house, she didn’t rush upstairs to her machine, but she took her time getting there, knowing that was the only way she would finish her work and get the desired results from the appearance of her end products.

Naya went back to work, not worried about how quickly she could cut and stitch, or how many more appliques she had to embroider before she could move on to the next garment. All Naya cared about now was making every design of hers a piece of wearable art that she could be proud of. This new dedication drove her to work harder than she ever had before, and without even trying, she managed to finish the skirt by the end of the night. For the second night in a row, Naya went to bed feeling incredibly satisfied and accomplished. As she closed her eyes she decided that this was a feeling she could grow accustomed to.

Naya finished the other garment she had to work on when she woke up the next day and her mother agreed to take it and the completed skirt to the cleaners first thing on Monday morning. This eased her nerves a bit when she walked into the drama department after regular classes let out Monday afternoon. She’d been stowing her creations away in the counselor’s office all day, and now it was time for her creative genius to be revealed to the world … or at least a small portion of her fellow classmates. As she made her way to the auditorium to meet with the theater kids, there was a bit of a happy spring in her step.

She greeted everyone in her usual cheery manner as a few of the more muscularly gifted students helped her hoist her cart full of garment bags up onto the stage. In a grand gesture, she began unzipping every last bag, revealing an array of beautiful clothes, each more extravagant than the last. Naya stepped aside and smiled proudly as the theater students crowded around her costumes, clamoring over them, and showering her with praise for her excellent work. She was even more amazed when she saw a few of her fellow thread heads out in the aisles of the auditorium, coming to show their support for her in her first big designing endeavor.

This feels amazing, thought Naya, Imagine being universally loved like this every day for the rest of ever!

Before Naya could run away too far with her imagination, the producer caught her attention. He told her that while wardrobe was impressed with her work, during inventory they found that two garments were missing, and one was quite vital to the female lead’s character. Naya apologized but assured him that the garments were completed, she just had them taken to the cleaners to make sure they looked their absolute best before opening night. He seemed to be fine with this news but he told Naya that the garments needed to be in the auditorium tomorrow morning before classes started. She began to say that she couldn’t make it happen and ask why he had given her such an obscene time frame in the first place. Her inner ferocity calmed once she remembered that the cast still had to do dress rehearsals, and in order to do that, they needed the cast’s wardrobe to be available in full.

As she finished mentally swearing at herself for forgetting such a major detail, she once again apologized and gave him her word that she would have the garments delivered to him tomorrow morning before the first class bell rang. She left the auditorium wondering how on earth she was going to make good on a promise like this. Granted she could get to the cleaners as it opened and make it to school but she’d be making it as the bell rang. When her mother came to pick her up, she told her about the ordeal and now they were both stumped. Back at home, Naya did her actual homework then did a bit of sketching, still wondering how she could fix an issue like this. After a while, she realized that worrying over it was pointless and all she could do was sleep. Just as she settled in for the night, she received about ten text messages all at once, each of them reading: THREAD HEADS 4 LIFE! Thoroughly confused, Naya replied with the same words and went to bed.

The next morning when Naya and her mother went to the cleaners, she almost jumped out of her skin when the provider told her that she no longer had Naya’s garments. Relief quickly washed over her as the woman told Naya that school friends of hers had come to the shop and picked up her order, making sure everything was okay and delivering the garments where they needed to be. She understood now and she couldn’t have been happier to have friends that cared so much for her and had her back. As she got back into the car with her mother, she sent out a mass text, telling all of the thread heads how much she loved and appreciated them. They had salvaged this huge opportunity for her and that wasn’t something she was going to forget any time soon. Naya rode the rest of the way to school in peace, feeling like everything had finally fallen into place for her.

Naya went to the auditorium after class was over to check out dress rehearsals, trying to see what she could expect the cast to look like on opening night. She had to admit, her costumes looked amazing. Maybe she lost sleep trying to make them as perfect as she could, but seeing them now, her sleep deprivation was well worth the end result. Naya was so pleased with her fellow thread heads for helping her this morning that she promised herself she’d get them recognition for something just as grand as soon as the opportunity presented itself.

Naya had one more project to finish and it was one for her own intents and purposes. On opening night of the school’s winter play, she walked into the theater wearing a modernized version of the female lead’s costume that she designed herself. Admittedly, she made the little dress to be attention grabbing, but she didn’t expect to attract the eyes of the entire student body. It was hard to pretend that she didn’t enjoy the attention because she couldn’t think of a better moment in her life. She sat up toward the front of the theater in her honorary wardrobe designer seat with everyone else that had a part in the production of the play. She had never felt more important in her life and she absolutely loved the feeling.

As the play ended, the audience erupted into applause and after the actors took their bows, the theater began to clear out. The production team took the stage with the actors so Naya did too. While congratulating everyone on what an astounding job they did and accepting a few compliments herself, Naya felt a tap on her shoulder at some point. There was a woman standing behind her saying that she absolutely loved the costumes and that she heard Naya designed and constructed them herself. After verifying the woman’s claims, Naya was handed a flyer and the woman told Naya that she was a representative at the local performing arts college. They were holding a fashion expo at the end of the summer and whoever won would be able to participate in a fashion design internship during the school year. Naya thanked the woman and looked at the flyer. She knew she would need help to create an entire clothing line by the end of summer, and the thought of help brought the promise she’d made herself earlier to mind. She knew there was no better team in the world that she could ask for as she pulled out her phone to send another mass text: THREAD HEADS! ASSEMBLE!

Submitted: September 22, 2015

© Copyright 2022 Aleia Morada. All rights reserved.

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