The morning after my depressing conversation with my mother, Mary had some good news. She found me a job. It was a group shot of all things, but a job nonetheless, and I was more than excited. It was an encouraging sign, and any job was an opportunity for more jobs.
I loved sitting in the make-up chair, in front of those Broadway mirrors as stylist hurried about me in a furious bustle. It was when I transformed into a goddess, a beast, a work of art. I was transformed from the regular girl I was into a supermodel.
There were five other models in the shot. Models like me - most from the same agency, stars in their eyes, thirsting for their own opportunity. Several I was familiar with and gave them a warm greeting, but I was mainly ignored. It was a competition, and when your fighting for those coveted spots in short supply, the fighting could get dirty.
I took another glance at myself in the mirror, changed into a completely different person by the magic of make-up and hairspray. Eyes were dark - never would you see someone with as much black eyeliner and shadow as I was wearing now. Lips were red as I had been sucking blood like a vampire. The most frightening aspect of my new self was it appeared my hair was eating my head alive, tangled, fluffed and sprayed into a disaster that I could only imagine combing out later.
A stylist wordlessly tossed me some skimpy nude-colored thing and helped me to redress. I gasped as she handed me the shoes, though she didn’t hear me as she went to the next model - the reason I was here, really. Huge heels probably a foot high, colored like a rainbow had puked on them. Who would buy these?
Lila, a girl who I had met and worked with several times before, strutted over gracefully on her own heels, smiling at me smoothly. “Frightened of them? It doesn’t take long to get you balance. It’s not as hard as you think,” she continued to walk by, glancing over me with laughing eyes. I had never liked her, always looking to believe she was better than everybody. She was Mary’s favorite model and I could never stop hearing about Lila and her achievements. Lila, Lila, Lila. That’s all what seemed to come from her.
“Oh, thanks.” I faked a smile and worked on my own shoes, slipped them on and straightened, wobbling for a second.
“Girls, to the set! We don’t have all day!” the artistic director yelled out, impatient.
I gulped. Now the set looked so far away. I was so afraid of falling...falling where everyone could see. They would all murmur about how I wouldn’t be able to do run-way, how uncoordinated I was.
Taking my time, I eventually made it over to the blank white set where all the other girls where gathering. It was a relief that a couple others were having a little trouble too.
The Artistic Director, Tyler Gooding, helped us to our places, Lila front and center and me on the far outside. I swallowed down the bitterness on my tongue, telling myself to focus at the job at hand. I took note of all the lights and their position, remembering all my practicing in front of the mirror. Hopefully all that practicing would be worth something.
“Alright, ready girls? I want to have you sort of connected, but keep highlighting the shoes.We’re just going to go ahead and start,” Tyler said, and we nodded in response, readying ourselves for our first poses.
I looked to the camera, forgetting the girls around me, the photographer behind the lens, the eyes watching, and focused.
“Hey, Miss, hold on a sec.”
I began hobbling off set, pausing as someone gently grabbed for my arm. I turned, facing the photographer, who I remembered as Kenny Alvera. A younger guy, not yet completely famous, but up-and-coming for certain.
“Yes, sir?” I asked curiously.
“If you don’t mind me saying, you were great out there. You got some real potential, kid,” he offered, nearly knocking me over with his words. I never expected that!
“R-really?” I managed to mutter, stunned.
“Yeah, you gave me some superb stuff. Haven’t edited yet, but I can already tell you offered some really good shots. Some that I would use of just you, easy,” he grinned, pausing to look at my figure, delve deeper into my face. “Who’s your agent?”
Blinking, I put on my business facade, “Mary Tiltson of Choice Model Management.”
He shook his head, “No, you don’t belong there. That’s just a factory for run-of-the mill models. I think you could go big time. Here, take my card. I have some friends that may be interested in you.” Breathless I took the card, barely containing my exuberance, my sheer joy. He winked, seeing my smile leaking out, “Call me.”