Have you ever tried to imagine a day in the life of the Trumps? How would Melania Trump deal with the day-to-day challenges of being married to the infamous businessperson, author and politician, Donald Trump? Does she feel accepted by his children, is there harmony in the Trump clan? Or are they just like any other family, riddled with politics, jealousies and heartaches?
Luckily for us, we don’t need to speculate any longer. Award-winning novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written a short story for The New York Times Book Review entitled “The Arrangements”, in which she depicts Melania’s most inner thoughts and fears.
The story is the first in a series of fiction inspired by the upcoming American election and was published on Tuesday, 28 June.
From the first sentence – “Melania decided she would order the flowers herself” – the reader is aware that “The Arrangements” is not only a story about the Trump dynasty as perceived through the eyes of Melania. It is also a homage to Virginia Woolf as it echoes that famous first sentence: “Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself.”
Read an excerpt from “The Arrangements”:
Melania decided she would order the flowers herself. Donald was too busy now anyway to call Alessandra’s as usual and ask for “something amazing.” Once, in the early years, before she fully understood him, she had asked what his favorite flowers were.
“I use the best florists in the city, they’re terrific,” he replied, and she realized that taste, for him, was something to be determined by somebody else, and then flaunted.
At first, she wished he would not keep asking their guests, “How do you like these great flowers?” and that he would not be so nakedly in need of their praise, but now she felt a small tug of annoyance if a guest did not gush as Donald expected. The florists were indeed good, their peonies delicate as tissue, even if a little boring, and the interior decorators Donald had brought in — all the top guys used them, he said — were good, too, even if all that gold yellowness bordered on staleness, and so she did not disagree because Donald disliked dissent, and he only wanted the best for them, and she had what she really needed, this luxurious peace. But today, she would order herself. It was her dinner party to celebrate her parents’ anniversary. Unusual orchids, maybe. Her mother loved uncommon things.
Her Pilates instructor, Janelle, would arrive in half an hour. She had just enough time to order the flowers and complete her morning skin routine. She would use a different florist, she decided, where Donald did not have an account, and pay by herself. Donald might like that; he always liked the small efforts she made. Do the little things, don’t ask for big things and he will give them to you, her mother advised her, after she first met Donald. She gently patted three different serums on her face and then, with her fingertips, applied an eye cream and sunscreen.
What a bright morning. Summer sunlight raised her spirits. And Tiffany was leaving today. It felt good. The girl had been staying for the past week, and came and went, mostly staying out of her way. Still, it felt good. Yesterday she had taken Tiffany to lunch, so that she could tell Donald that she had taken Tiffany to lunch.
“She adores all my kids, it’s amazing,” Donald once told a reporter — he was happily blind to the strangeness in the air whenever she was with his children.
To keep the lunch short, she had told Tiffany that she had an afternoon meeting with the Chinese company that produced her jewelry — even though she had no plans. Tiffany had cheerily forked spinach salad into her mouth, her California voice too pleasant, too fey. Her wrists looked fragile and breakable. She talked about how much she loved Ivanka’s new collection; she talked about a vegan recipe, reciting details of berries and seaweed, as though Melania would actually ever make it. She played a recording of her singing and said: “It’s not there yet but I’m working on it. You think Dad will like it?” Melania said, “Of course.”