Page A Day – Day Two

My girlfriend and I planned to make a lot of money. We would set ourselves up as high-class prostitutes. It would be safer in twos, one could keep guard, while the other did the business – keeping an eye out in case anything untoward happened. We did not discuss what ‘untoward’ might mean. I was eighteen and bulimic. She was my best friend and Irish. We drank rum and cokes and flushed with excitement with all the possibilities. The things we would do with the money. It would just be for a little while, of course. A small curve in the straight and narrow path to successful adulthood. I saw that adulthood quite clearly: fame, fortune. I’d be a dancer, an actress, a writer, a poet. I’d be a journalist, an architect; I’d photograph the moon from a space ship, I’d go to Tibet and become one with everything. The world was my oyster, and I was licking at her briny, sharp edges. I had no doubts, none at all. That I would be fine. I would. So she and I, my best girfriend who is no longer my best girlfriend, and nor me hers: we catastrophically failed each other’s expectations of each other – discussed into the night how we’d proceed. We were all talk of course, and the talk was good, until I woke up the next morning, my head a chainsaw massacre, my only thought of where and when and how. My month’s allowance was spent. My credit card maxed. The kinds of foods required were hard to steal. No slipping a box of creampuffs into your handbag. Not easily anyway. My best friend lent me money. She did not know I spent it on fast food, food that went fast in and fast out. And later, when I returned from ‘lectures’ (I hadn’t been to any for several months, she did not know), we’d discuss our plan. We needed beautiful clothes, a quality advertisement, our hair cut, our nails painted. By four am we’d fall into bed – the same bed, it was big and there was only one in the apartment – certain that tomorrow we’d do all these things. But we didn’t. What I did do was answer a small advertisement in the back of a newspaper for ‘photographic models’. It was not exactly what I expected. A married man, short, fat and kind faced. His wife much in evidence. After one roll of film he persuaded me to take my clothes off. “I’m going to do something naughty” he said, and before I knew it he’d tweaked my nipple. Hard. “That’s better,” he told me, and the flash went off, blinding. My mother has one of his photographs on the wall of her spare room. It is not one of the nudes. I never told her about that. I’m looking over my shoulder. I’m wearing a red satin blouse. My mother put it in the spare room – where she would not see it every day – because, she said, “You look so terribly sad.”

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