Nineteen-year-old Tiffany selected a few coins from the jar and stuffed them in a pocket of her red leather handbag. She chewed her lip, knowing today was her last chance, the coins jingling inside the bag, the last few pennies she had to her name. If she messed up today, it meant no rent, no food, and if she did not pay this time, she was out. Homeless. She picked this as a career and knew she would be good at it.
Yet, three years after leaving school she still had not made the big times, and was usually only given small photo shoots, paying very little money. Not enough to feed her and pay her bills.
She ate usually at the shoots, knowing her cupboards and fridge would contain nothing but fresh air. Today she had made a big effort, and braved the cold water of the shower, having not paid her electric they had cut her off. She pulled on her best dress and heels and now made her way towards the building where they were holding the shoot. Believe in yourself, she repeated over and over again.
Pushing the double glass door open, she entered; the heat hit her full force, almost knocking her off her feet. She steadied herself, straightened her skirt, plastered a smile on her face and made her way to the reception desk. The woman looked her up and down, a half smile on her face, but not reaching her eyes, Tiffany noticed. The woman indicated to follow the arrows cello taped to the walls.
As if she could not find her way with normal instructions. Did they think all models were stupid, she knew they did? She had left school with 8 A’s and could have continued her studies, but Tiffany wanted to be a model and would prove her family wrong. She could do it, she could make it in this world. Yet as she entered the room, she saw the models all sat waiting for their turn to be put through their paces.
Tiffany perched on the edge of the chair and watched as the tall long legged beauty strutted up and down the make shift catwalk. Her eyes straight, her mouth taut. She reached the end, turned with grace, before returning to the designer and his assistant.
“Perfect, thank you.” He looked to his assistant, who looked down her clipboard and called out the next name.
Half an hour later, Tiffany remained on the chair; she was one of the last, along with a bleach blonde model. No one spoke, this was not a place to make friends, they were all here for one thing, to get the job, and they would do anything to get it. Even tripping models up. Tiffany never resorted to such games and knew she would make her mark, but when she was unsure off. She never knew what they were looking for. She was different to many of the models here, she was not as tall as they were, but her legs were shapely, her breasts a perfect size for her frame. Her eyes level with her nose small, her lips pouty and she had slowly learnt to take better pictures. It was all about learning as she went.
“Tiffany Button,” the assistant called.
Maybe she should have changed her name, but she was after all who she was. She stood and made her way to where they stood. Handing them her portfolio.
They looked at her and then the pictures.
Tiffany’s heart pounded as she took her first steps, reaching the end she turned, mimicking the model from earlier. She did it the best she ever had, and made her way back to the start. Where they handed back her portfolio.
“Come back at eleven.”
Tiffany nodded. She shuffled her way to the exit, debating what she would do for the next hour. She had so little money on her, but her stomach rumbled, maybe she could afford some toast and a cup of tea. She had noticed a small cafe across the street, she would spend the next hour there.
The bell above the door tinkled as she entered. It looked as if she as not been alone in her thinking. As two of the other models sat at one of the tables, she scanned the cafe there were no empty tables. She turned to leave. She knew they would not accept her at their table.
“You can join us, if you like!” she heard one of the girls say.
Tiffany frowned as she turned to face them.
“Yes, we are talking to you, come, sit?”
Tiffany nodded and moved towards their table, and sat down. They exchanged names, and little about themselves. Tiffany was a little surprised at being invited over.
“Well, we have to stick together, yes we are all here for the same job, and there are SOME,” she shouted the last word. “Who would do anything to claw the competition out the way? Problem is, if the designer is not looking for the look you have, you have no chance anyway.”
“True,” Tiffany agreed. She knew better than anyone that this was the case.
“We have been trying to get the big jobs for the past two years, and her,” she indicated to the blonde. “She has made it, but still likes to take the smaller ones too, we don’t understand why she has to try so hard.”
“Maybe she’s insecure, I know I am. I don’t have the height, or..” she paused.
“I never thought of it like that. I mean I hate my chin, but in pictures it looks different.”
“And I was always the odd girl at school, but now I am quirky, at least that’s what my agent says. She saw me in the street and told me I could be a model, I was like no way. Yet here I am, and I am doing well, but still bigger things are out there for me.”
“There are, for all of us, but I need this one”
“Need it!” the blonde said.
“We all need it, love, just remember whoever gets this one, gets the big shoot afterwards.”
Tiffany looked up at her, a puzzled look on her face.
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t pretend that you have no idea what I am talking about!”
“We don’t,” one of the other girls said.
The blonde smirked. “Well, whoever gets this job, is automatically taken on for the next one, the big one, the double spread of the magazine we are all trying to get into.”
The girls mouths all fell open.
“How many of us are likely to be given this opportunity?”
“Two, and I know I am already a finalist.”
“How so?” Tiffany asked. “Did they offer it to you?”
“Not exactly, but I am a sure win, don’t you think?” she said, heading towards the exit.
“No I don’t,” Tiffany mumbled.
“We better head back too,” one of the girls said. “We don’t want to be late. Not with her arriving before us.”
Tiffany agreed, stood, and stuffed the last of the toast in her mouth, washing it down with the tea, before heading back with the others.
“Good luck, to you all.”
“You too,” she whispered as they approached the room they had all been in earlier.
“Welcome back girls, now please make your way into make-up and change into the outfits chosen by myself for each of you.”
Tiffany walked into the room with the other girls, where they were told to sit, and where soon having their hair and make-up done. Next, they were changed into the outfits for the shoot. Did this mean they had the job? Tiffany had no idea, she had never been to a job interview like it. Not one with a photo shoot as part of it. This was all new to her, but as she slipped into the shoes, she stood taller than she ever had.
“Are any of you afraid of heights?” they were asked.
Tiffany looked around the room, she was, but would not admit it. She saw the blonde swallow.
“Let’s get you into your harnesses, and we can begin, we will shoot two or three girls at a time, okay.”
As she walked towards the set, she noticed the pirate ship, and knew then what they had planned. She would be up in the air as if she was coming down the ships sails. She smiled, this was going to be as scary as hell, but she had always wanted to be a pirate. Now she had her chance.
They strapped her up and she was soon lifted up into the air. Looking down once, she swallowed, and then modelled her butt off. Big times are ahead for me, she thought. Re-enacting a peter pan pose.