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Jade took her first steps on the catwalk feeling like something was amiss. She just wasn’t able to put her finger on it. She was no stranger to the catwalk or the dog-eat-dog world of modeling, but tonight would be unlike any other.
She joined the rest of the girls in dress change, as usual. In the few moments they had to prepare, everyone was reaching, grabbing, and rifling through clothes, jewelry, furs, and feathers. The rush and tension had dulled her senses to anything outside of being ready in time.
As she stepped behind the curtain to ready herself for her last walk of the night, she noticed a strange movement in the shadowed corner.
“Probably just one of the girls taking speed or shooting up,” she thought, trying to shake off a feeling of dread.
Suddenly, Miss Kent, head of the Ford modeling agency, changed the lineup and Jade was at the back of the line. She would be the one to close the show. Jade hated waiting. It made her nervous.
She fell in love with Melea three years ago, two of which they had lived under the same roof. She noticed movement in the corner shadows again and gauged her time.
“I’m on in about three minutes,” she thought, as she stepped from line to investigate.
She pulled back the curtain to let the backstage light in, and found Melea between the thighs of a young, new model. There was no time for this now. Jade ran back to the line with Melea calling after her, but Miss Kent hurriedly pushed her onto the catwalk.
She stepped from the heavy curtain feeling dazed, hurt, dizzy, and enraged. Cameras flashed everywhere as she tried to slap on a smile and wing it, until she was taking her last steps.
She urged herself through it thinking, “Almost there. Almost home. You can make it.”
Just as she was ready to dissolve into tears, a fashion photographer appeared just inside the curtain. He had caught her raw emotions, rage, and discomposure, in a single shot that could end her career. She could already imagine tomorrow’s headlines.
Jade pushed by the obnoxious photographer and ran for the exit, nearly knocking Miss Kent off her feet in the process. For just a moment, she thought of how many times she had slapped on a smile, and how Miss Kent had direct say about her life, work, eating habits, almost everything. She realized just how public her triumphs had been, but hadn’t expected her failures to be as well.
She ran down the stairs until the stern voice of Miss Kent stopped her.
“Jade! Jade! Unprofessional doesn’t begin to cover it,” she began her angry tirade.
Feeling utterly betrayed, and profoundly broken, pain and anger poured from her lips. In a fit of overwhelming emotions, she screamed,
“Yea! Yea! I’ll let you know where to send my last fucking check!”
The last thing she heard was Miss Kent yelling, “You don’t mean that, Jade! You get back here now!”
But this time, she didn’t stop, couldn’t stop. With the picture of Melea etched into mind, she raced for the car and pulled onto a highway that may never end. Leaving behind her love and her life, she gunned the engine, heading for anywhere but here.
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