The story starts in the year 2068. It will all make sense eventually.
Noe walked down the hallway of the swanky assisted living facility that only millions of dollars could afford. She smiled at the residents hugging several as she walked toward her grandmother’s apartment. She knocked on the heavy wooden door as she usually did peeking her head in the door. ”Nana?” she asked not seeing anyone sitting in the room. She walked in the spacious apartment she looked in the bathroom seeing her frail grandmother hobbling to the front of the room.
”I thought I heard you, Nohua…” her grandmother said in a soft voice. Her twenty six year old granddaughter followed the voice into the room holding onto her small grandmother helping her to the couch.
”Nana…I told you I’d come and help you today…and while we’re waiting you have to tell me the story again.” Noe said loudly taking a seat on the couch next to her grandmother.
”Hand me that…” her grandmother said pointing to a piece of fabric with a needle in it. ”I wasn’t finished with it…it’s for your sister…” she said.
”For Miley?” she asked.
”Yes, my love. For her. You already have one…” her grandmother answered pointing to a completed quilt laying in the other room.
”Oh, Nana..that’s beautiful.” she said going to pick it up.
”Your mom helped some…” her grandmother answered. ”Look at it. You’ll love it…” her grandmother walked slowly to the quilt. ”Look at that one…there are so many stories…” her grandmother ran her fingers along the light yellow t-shirt that said You’re Amazing…
”Just the way you are….” Noe finished saying out loud. ”Nana…tell me about the shirt…”
”Well, come sit down next to me. I’ll tell you the whole story…” her grandmother said turning off the TV. ”Now…where should we start?”
”I want to hear about your job….” Noe told her grandmother.
”Well…okay then…” her grandmother said stretching her arms to tell the story.
”There once was a girl named Zulema. She was born in Saudi Arabia in the 1980s. She and her older sister Riva were sent back to the United States to live with their grandmother in upstate New York when they started school. After Zulema graduated from high school she went to a top fashion school because that’s what she wanted to do and her parents had the money to send her wherever she wanted to go. She could have gone to Harvard or Oxford..but she decided to go to the Fashion Institute. After she graduated from FIT she moved back to New York to work at the Gap.”
”She worked at the Gap?” Noe asked.
”She worked at the Gap for almost six months before accepting a job at a small PR firm run by one the fashion world’s most intriguing people.”
”Kelly, right?” Noe asked again.
”Yes, Kelly, Nohua…” her grandmother answered. ”So, she moved to the city for the account representative position…and in the winter of 2010 she was running around like crazy getting ready for fashion week. Hours before one of the biggest moments of her life, Kelly told her she needed to run to Brooklyn to pick up some extra pieces the designer had left in his apartment. She was freaking out. She thought the world was going to end. One of the busiest days of fashion week, during one of the busiest days of the year she put on a bright red coat escaping from her five inch red heels putting on a pair of red Nike shoes trying to run as fast as she could onto the train. She made it to Brooklyn right in front of the apartment and got in and out equally as quick. As she was running back to the train she tripped over a garment bag. As the bag started to fall, he caught it.”
”Nana…what was he wearing that day?” Noe asked.
”Hmm…let me think….” she paused thinking for a moment. ”If I can remember correctly…he had on these horrid red pants that even someone at a thrift store would have thrown out had they been donated…and this messy t-shirt. I can’t remember what was on it, but it was black. And then he wore a denim button up shirt with a leather jacket. He had on his grey hat that day. He looked very cold.”
”Okay..now keep going, Nana…” Noe pushed her grandmother to tell the story.
”So…this girl was almost falling over tripping over the bags in front of the boy and his friends. He stepped close to her so fast she didn’t even know what coming. He grabbed her and the bag and said…”
”Woah..woah…be careful. You don’t want to scuff the kicks.” the boy told her still holding her after she regained her balance.
”Oh shit…I don’t care about the shoes…did I rip the bag? Please tell me there isn’t anything wrong with the bags…oh my god. Oh fuck me..I’m going to be so late. Kelly is going to kill me. I’m sorry I ran into you. Really. Please forgive me…” she rambled walking past them in a hurry.
”What was that?” the boy asked watching the girl run toward the train.
”What are you going to do, Bru? Run after her? Geezus. You’ve been here for half an hour and already found some chick…” his friend told him.
”Yeah..no. I don’t think I’ll see her ever again. But she was cute.” the boy answered walking toward the same train Zulema was on.
”So Zulema ended up getting to her show and everything was perfect. There weren’t any troubles aside from a few models walking off beat and the lighting taking a few extra seconds to start.” Noe’s grandmother continued the story for her granddaughter.
”Nana..what was that like? The shows. They sound so epic.” Noe asked.
”Oh, mi amor..they are so…well crazy. You think everything is just right and then someone steals a seat, or there’s a wardrobe malfunction, or a model doesn’t show..it’s truly amamazing.”
”Keep going, Nana..I think the next part is my favorite.” Noe told her grandmother.
After the show Zulema, her co-worker Lisette and Stephanie all decided that they were going to do nothing for the rest of the night. As they were walking down the streets of Manhattan they heard some unfamiliar music coming from a small café.
”That sounds…interesting…” Stephanie told them.
”Do you want to go check it out? Who knows..maybe the boys are cute…” Lisette answered.
”Oh goodness, gracious, Lis. Don’t you get enough of Kelly trying to set you up? Boys, boys, boys. I don’t even have time to breath…” Zulema answered as Lisette drug them in the small café. ”I am too tired to even care…” Zulema drug herself into the café bobbing her head to the low cover song that the band was playing. She suddenly heard an infectious laugh from the corner making her turn around.
”Holy shit, it’s Brooklyn!” he said pointing at her.
”Excuse me?” Zulema asked seeing her co-workers turn around at the same time. Oh..it’s the guy I ran into earlier today…well..shit. He walked away from the small area they designated as a stage to hold out his hand.
”Hi, I’m Bruno Mars..and you are?” he asked.
”I’m Zulema Austin. Don’t shit me. Your last name isn’t Mars.” she told him making him laugh.
”No. It’s not. But you’ll have to wait to find out what it really is.” he smiled back at her turning back around to go to the stage. ”You’re staying right?” he asked her.
”Umm..yeah…I gues..” Zulema answered sitting down with her friends.
”Did he really say it that way, Nana?” Zoe asked her grandmother.
”He did. He was a sarcastic asshole.” her grandmother answered.
”I don’t believe you, he was never sarcastic around us.” Noe answered.
”Believe it. I will have to find some of the interviews for you again. There are so many out there.” Nana answered.
”Okay. Find them for me and then I’ll believe you.” she answered. ”Now keep going…” Noe answered covering herself up in the blanket her grandmother had been making for her.
”So Zulema, Stephanie and Lisette sat down and watched Bruno perform..”
”He’s pretty good, don’t you think?” Stephanie asked the girls.
”Yeah…he is pretty darn good.” Zulema answered watching him close his eyes to finish a song. He grabbed a bottle of water taking a sip and then held onto a small towel to distretctly wipe off the sweat on his forehead walking back over to Zulema.
”So….Kelly didn’t kill you, did she Zulema?” Bruno asked her.
”Umm..no. She didn’t.” she smiled back at him.
”So..we’re doing this small show down the way..this was just a little bit of somethin’ somethin’…but we’ve got a real live show where people pay to see us and stuff…do you and your girls want to come? We could use the pretty faces.” Bruno asked them winking at Lisette.
”Oh…oh…well. I am about to drop dead.” Zulema answered. ”I’m really sorry.” she told him.
”Well, that’s too bad. I would have really liked to see you before I leave.” he replied.
”Yeah..well. I have another show tomorrow and I really, I just cannot fuck this one up like I fucked the last one up.” Zulema told him.
”Ladies..how about you?” he asked Stephanie and Lisette.
”I think I’m going to pass as well.” Stephanie answered.
”Well then. Lisette?” Bruno asked.
”My head says yes but my body is saying no, too. I’m sorry Bruno Mars.” Lisette answered.
”Well darn. Then, until next time, girls.” he said walking back toward his friends.
”He was cute, though, no?” Lisette asked them.
”If I was even remotely awake right now I’d totally hit it.” Zulema answered. ”Did you see his eyes? Oh my god. They’re amazing. And can you even imagine his tattoos? If the one on his arm is any indication…woah.”
”Well, give him your number. Then you can see him again…”Stephanie suggested.
”I’ll give it to Brett to give it to him.” she said pulling out one of her business cards writing her number on the back as they got up.
”Brett…give this to that Bruno Mars guy when he leaves.” she told the barista.
”Sure thing.” Brett answered. ”Until tomorrow ladies!”
The girls waved leaving the small café.
”Damnit..they left…” Bruno said holding the case for his guitar in his hand. ”I didn’t even get her number.”
”Just let it go, Bruno.” his friend answered.
”Phil…she was too cute not to let go. And running into her again? Like does that really happen in as big of a city as this?” Bruno answered.
”I don’t know dude.” Phil said walking out with the other band members.
”Oh…excuse me guys..” Brett hollered at them. ”Bruno…Zuli gave this to me to give to you.” he said handing him the card.
”Is she going to style you?” Phil asked.
”No…it’s her number.” Bruno said dancing his way out of the café.
Noe jumped hearing a knock at her grandmother’s door.
”Was there someone at the door?” her grandmother asked as Noe got up from her seat.
”Oh..I forgot..it’s time for your medicine, abuela…” Noe answered looking at Kathy, the nurse.
”Hi Noe! How are you? Is Ms. Hernandez talking your ear off again?”
”I don’t mind it. Her stories are way more exciting than mine.” Noe said handing her grandmother the small cup of water to take with her two pills.
”I make up half the stuff I say.” the grandmother said making both the girls laugh.
”Except it’s all written down here….” Noe said going into her grandmother’s bedroom holding a scrapbook with notes falling out of it. ”And the love letters.”
”Your grandfather was a special guy.” her grandmother answered with a sad laugh.
”Okay…Ms. Zulema…I will see you bright and early tomorrow morning for your pills.” Kathy told them.
”Alright, darling. Tell your little ones I said hello.” Zulema waved taking her seat back on the couch with her granddaughter. ”Now…where were we?” her grandmother asked.
”Nana…tell me about the first letter her wrote you…” Noe asked.
”Well…let’s seeee…” Zulema grabbed the book watching the papers fall out. She took a hold of a tattered folded piece of paper. ”It was this one…”
Zulema walked up to the small office setting down her giant bag full of things to get her through the day- flats, a small coat, a granola bar, and her ipod. She looked around the office- including two interns in the back and one other account rep who was equally as stressed as she was. Zulema sat down looking at her full e-mail. ”Fuck this shit.” she said clicking on an e-mail .
”Zuli!” she heard her other boss, Erin, walk in the room holding a giant bouquet of flowers.
”Wow…did Eric get those for you? They’re gorg.” Stephanie said walking up behind Erin.
”No way. Like he has a heart like that. These came for Z.” she answered handing her the flowers.
”Woah..woah…from who?” Zulema asked taking a hold of the flowers. ”Jake is not this sweet…” she said taking a hold of the bright white card.
It wasn’t hard to find you, Ms. Austin. I hope to see you at our show tonight. I don’t know the address yet, but I’ll text it to you.
”That guy from the cafe! I can tell from the way you smiled. Z! He was a babe.” Stephanie told her.
”Yeah…he was…I guess we’re going to his show tonight. We’ll have to nap between shows.” Zulema told her friend.
”Umm..yes. Nap time now.” Stephanie said placing the flowers in the middle of the big conference room table they all used. ”They’re so pretty.”
”They really are…let’s get this show on the road though. Kel is already down there…not worrying about flowers…” Zulema said.
”Nana…that’s so sweet. Why did you keep it though? It was just a bouquet of flowers…” Noe asked.
”Well…I kept it because..no. I don’t know why…but let me keep telling you the story…” Zulema told her granddaughter. ”So….Zulema had another big show. It went well, Kelly only yelled a few times.”
Kelly followed the girls out the door of the fashion show holding onto a big bag. ”So, girls…we were going to go out for dinner. Do you want to come?” Kelly asked.
”Ummm..I think I’m going to raincheck that tonight…” Zulema answered.
”Oh..you…not Lis?” Kelly asked.
”Well…Steph is my wingman but yeah. We met a boy yesterday.” Zulema answered.
”Who is he? Who is he? He should come to dinner!” Kelly exclaimed showing off her motherly side.
”Kel, we met him yesterday. I don’ t think he’s even aware of my overbearing mother of a boss.” Zulema said in a loving tone.
”Oh…well…yeah. I guess you’re right. Just know I’ll send someone over there to watch you two…and don’t stay out too late! Our biggest day is tomorrow!” Kelly waved to them walking in the opposite direction.
”Okay…let’s go see this boy..” Stephanie said pushing her way through the crowded New York City street with her co-worker and friend.
”Do you want to get in his pants? Geezus, Steph.” Zulema answered.
”Well..if you don’t want to…I’d be happy..oh..here it is. Shit girl, it’s crowded. Who is this guy?” Stephanie answered seeing a full stage grabbing a piece of paper talking about the performers.
”Hmm..B.o.B. and Travie McCoy, too?” Zulema asked.
”Travie is from Gym Class Heros..” Stephanie told her. ”Remember we saw them once..”
”Hmm…vaguely.” she said finding an empty pocket off to the left of the stage. The show started with several songs being played by these two new artists without a sign of the guy who invited her to the show. ”Where is this guy? I don’t know how much I like these..I’d rather be sleeping..”
”Sleeping? Hang in there, Z. I see him over there..” Stephanie said moving her eyes to the back.
”Oh..yeah..shit..he totally saw me checking him out.” Zulema answered Stephanie turning around quickly after he looked up and smiled at her.
”He’s coming over here…” Stephanie said under her breath playing with the straw in her drink.
”Ladieesss…I’m glad you made it.” he said touching Zulema’s shoulder. Shit…what the hell. She thought to herself.
”Yeah..we couldn’t say no.” Zulema answered. ”Music is music.”
”Well, I’m glad you made it. I’ll be up there after this one. Scream really loud so people know I have fans.” he laughed.
”Yeah..we’re fashion girls. We don’t scream.” Stephanie told him.
”Or just dance a little. Whatever. Flash your boobs, take off your bra…throw a rose at me. Whatever.” Bruno told them making Zulema almost spit out her drink.
”So that’s what you want?” she asked him.
”Well..I mean..y’all don’t even know me yet so I’ll let it slide. But next show I want Stephanie and Zuli bras thrown at me.” he told them.
”Okay, Bruno Mars. We’ll work on that.” Zulema smiled at him watching him turn around.
”Bras, girls, bras…” he shouted turning the corner to go on stage. The music started lightly and quietly. People started turning to listen to them.
”Oh dang..it’s the Nothin on you guy…” Zulema heard a girl gasp. ”He’s cute..I didn’t know what he looked like..”
”Steph…didn’t we hear this on the radio this morning?” Zulema asked.
”I think so…” Stephanie answered watching Bruno start moving across the stage.
”Shit..he’ll be lucky to get me outta here with pants on.” Zulema leaned over to tell her friend who started laughing at her.
”Nana…do you want to go eat dinner? I’ll go with you…” Noe interrupted her grandmother.
”Yes dear, let’s go eat dinner. I know it will take me forever to eat. I bet I’ll finish the story by the time we get to desert.” Zulema laughed at her granddaughter.
”And I’ll have eaten 4 pieces of pizza.” Noe said.
”Well you eat those pizzas, just make sure you work out tomorrow.” Zulema said walking slowly with her grandmother down the brightly lit hallway to the dining area.
”Nana…do you miss him?” Noe asked.
”I know he will be okay. And your mom said we were going to go see him this weekend.” her grandmother answered.
”Oh…you’re right. We are going to go see him aren’t we?” Noe asked about her grandfather.
”Yes. It makes me very happy.” her grandmother answered watching the waitress take their order walking away. ”Now..where were we?”
”You said something about losing your pants, Nana. That’s gross.” Noe smiled at her grandmother.
”Oh, yes…so he finished singing and we were really tired…”
Bruno watched the girls throughout the show not knowing exactly how to act around Zulema after the show. He hadn’t seen such a beautiful girl in a very long time. She was wearing dark skinny jeans, very expensive looking brown riding boots, a bright orange sweater and her jet black hair had a slight curl to it. She had the most amazing green eyes that pierced through her tanned skin. Is she Puerto Rican? Or is she…I don’t know. She’s crazy intense though. He thought to himself walking up to the girls after he finished performing.
”So….where were the bras?” Bruno asked them with a laugh.
”I need more than just two songs to get my bra off, Bruno.” Zulema answered them.
”Oh man, you are crazy.” he said. ”I like it.” he smiled at them. ”There’s a little get together after if you want to come..” he said pointing to the back of the venue.
”I don’t think it would hurt.” Lisette said looking at the girls.
”Yeah..I think it would be okay.” Zulema answered standing up.
”Well, come on..let’s get the party started!” Bruno exclaimed grabbing Zulema’s hand. He led them all to the back pointing to a rounded seating area. ”Have a seat. What are you all drinking?”
”Ummm….whatever.” Zulema answered. ”I just need a drink.”
”That may be a problem…” he raised his eyebrows.
”Why?” she asked.
”Well..I just might make you drink everything…” he laughed.
”Bruno..just get her a red bull and vodka.” Stephanie answered.
”Yeah. That’ll do.” Zulema answered watching him walk away. Some of Bruno’s friends came over and introduced themselves and began talking about everything they’ve been doing. They even spoke to the other performers briefly.
”Wait, wait wait….you guys works for People’s Rev. I saw you at the show yesterday. That shit was off the hook. Good job.” Travie answered speaking of the show that Zulema was running to when she hit Bruno.
”It was good?” Bruno asked.
”There were some things that could have changed, but it was pretty good.” Zulema answered looking at Bruno who was mentally undressing her with his eyes. She could totally tell. ”Bruno…you have really pretty eyes.”
He looked away pretending to be embarrassed. ”Aww. You’re too sweet. Let’s get married.” he laughed.
”Oh…I think we need to at least go on a date before I say yes.” she told him.
”Well..let’s go…” he said taking her hand to walk her outside.
”Y’all are leavin?” Phil asked. Bruno waved his cigarettes taking Zulema by the waist.
”Oh, okay. So I’m coming outside to smoke with you?” Zulema asked.
”No way…I came out here with you to do this…” he stated pulling her into his body to kiss her. Woah. He has cinnamon breath. It tastes so good. She thought to herself continuing to kiss him. She felt herself shiver as he pulled away. ”Oh…here…” he handed her his jacket. ”You look cold.”
”Oh..thanks…” she breathed in the cold air letting it out.
”Z…” he started. Shit..should I have called her that? I don’t know…he wondered to himself. ”We’re leaving tomorrow. So umm….so we’re…”
”Oh. Bruno…whatever.” Zulema told him.
”Whatever?” he asked her confused. She rolled her eyes at him falling into his jacket that was actually keeping her warm.
”The last two days were pretty interesting. But you really think you’re going to see me again?” she asked him.
”Well..I was hoping….” Bruno answered shyly. ”You’re beautiful..and obviously very smart and you stayed and listened to little me sing..I just figured…”
”Oh….yeah…well. I…Bruno…you are…well…you’re you. And I don’t know.” Zulema stuttered equally through the conversation.
”Z…I like you..and I think you like me….” Bruno thought out loud looking up. ”Can I get some thinking music there?” he asked making her smile. ”We’re going to be here recording and stuff for a while..it would be nice to have someone there that isn’t family or Ari and Phil…”
”Oh…so that’s what it’s about?” she asked.
”No…it’s really about me…ummm…I…I don’t usually get so nervous.” he told her leaning against the wall.
”Bruno…” she took his sweaty hand. ”Quit being so nervous.” she said placing her hands above his shoulders leaning in to him to kiss him.
”Nana….tell me how the night ended and then I’ll go home.” Noe told her grandmother as they walked back to her apartment.
”Okay…” her grandmother responded slowly walking behind her granddaughter. ”You know…you sound like him sometimes.”
”You tell me that all the time, Nana. I don’t know why you say that.” Noe responded.
”Oh…I know why you sound like him…” her grandmother started. ”You sound like him when he gets tired…”
Bruno returned kiss watching her eyes as she pulled away from him. ”Geez, Brooklyn. You’re really going to leave an impression.” he told her. She turned around shaking her head.
”I don’t usually do that.” she said sitting down on the curb.
”I wasn’t complaining.” he told her pulling out a cigarette not standing too close to her. She turned around to see him pacing blowing the smoke out dramatically.
”Bruno…I know I don’t know you…at all..but you seem really stressed out.” Zulema said standing up leaning against the wall where he was standing just seconds ago.
”I’m not.” he told her. ”I’m just thinking.” he answered her.
”You think? I never thought you would be one to do that.” Zulema smiled at him.
”Oh, ouch. That hurt, Z.” he responded.
”I’m sorry.” she laughed at him. ”You just look like I feel right now.”
”And what’s that?” he asked.
”Tired, stressed out, tired…and really tired.” she replied. He looked at her confused.
”How do you figure?” he wondered.
”Well…you were clearly in as big of a hurry as I was yesterday and you’ve been doing whatever this is….for a while…right?” she asked him.
”Yeah. I guess.” he replied.
”We heard you on the radio this morning.” Zulema answered him.
”You did?” he genuinely smiled at her. ”Wow.”
”Yeah…it was good, Bruno.” Zulema reassured him.
”We’re filming the video for it in a few weeks and we’re promoting it like crazy and I don’t think I’ve slept for more than 4 hours in the past week. And I love it, Z. It’s the best thing in the world.” he told her.
”So in a year I can say I kissed this mega famous singer?” she asked him.
”Mega famous?” he looked at her almost about to laugh. ”I hope so.”
”Yeah…if you do a little of this…” she pulled out his tucked in t-shirt. ”And shave this…” she pointed to his little goatee. ”And keep the hat…the hat has to stay…I think you’ll have the world at your fingertips.”
”Can I bring you with me to make sure I look hot?” he asked her.
”You’ll have to talk to my boss.” she replied as they started to walk back into the bar.
”Z?” he asked taking her hand from her.
”Yeah?” she turned to look at him.
”Thanks for talking to me.” he answered her.
”You’re welcome, Bruno Mars.” she smiled leading him through the crowd that didn’t even recognize him. They sat back down at finished the evening with the large group of party goers.
”It really is late…I need to go…” Stephanie said looking at Zulema.
”Ohhh…it is almost 3…” Zulema said pretending to yawn.
”Let me walk out with you…” Bruno said watching her stand up.
”Oh shit..here’s your coat…it’s really comfy…” Zulema said looking at the tag. ”And expensive…”
”Yeah..I’m kind of a diva.” he told her.
”Kind of? I don’t even think I would splurge for this…well now I might knowing how freaking comfortable it is…” Zulema answered him making him laugh as they walked to the front of the bar. Stephanie lingered in front of them watching them from afar. She could tell that the two of them were awkward trying to figure out how to finish the evening.
”Well, when I’m mega famous I’ll buy you one.” he replied.
”Okay..but I’ll remember that a year from now.” she smiled at him as he held onto the jacket. ”Good night, Bruno.” she said starting to walk away.
”Good night, Z.” he said under his breath.
Once the girls were far enough away from Bruno Stephanie grasped onto Zulema’s arm excited.
”What?” Zulema asked Stephanie.
”He is so cute! What the hell happened out there?” Stephanie asked.
”Fashion girls don’t kiss and tell.” Zulema answered mysteriously.
”Oh..well that’s too bad.” Stephanie sighed.
”I’ll tell you once I figure it all out, Steph.” Zulema answered. Her phone suddenly buzzed as they sat down on the subway full of hungover and drunk youth.
Good night Brooklyn.
”I’m never going to see him again.” she said to herself putting her phone in her pocket.
”Nana..did you really think you were never going to see him again? I mean, come on.” Noe asked her grandmother.
”I think in the back of my head I really did want to see him, but Nohua..I’m realist. Your grandfather is a dreamer. And he was going to make those dreams come true no matter what. I just didn’t know it yet.” Zulema answered intellectually.
”Oh god, Nana. You make it sound like a Nicholas Sparks book.” Noe told her grandmother.
”What, I didn’t tell you? He wrote the Notebook after he met us.” her grandmother joked.