Some of the dignitaries invited were running late and the time for the event was pushed back. The models were already there and had already posed for pictures before they were told about the new development. Though the organizers said the event would begin in a few minutes time, apparently that had turned into hours because they were still waiting for the event to commence.
It was evening already and Ehi was famished, she had been too nervous to eat in the morning and now she was tired and miserable. She sat with an unenthusiastic slouch and slowly counting the hours until this dreadful event would begin so she can go home and eat something. She thought about Miss Smalls’ Chicken Marbella which she served with saffron rice and steamed broccoli and just that thought made her mouth to water and she shut her eyes tight. She heard footsteps towards her direction but was too tired to look up and when the person sat beside her too she didn’t turn.
“Here, I think you need this.” She heard from beside her.
She forced her head to turn and look at the person beside her. She found herself looking at one of the most beautiful faces she had ever seen. The lady was black and had striking features that made Ehi felt like an ugly duckling. It took her a moment to realize that the lady was referring to was an apple in her hand. She took it and quickly bit into it closing her eyes as she savored the taste.
“Thank you so much, this is the first thing I have had all day. Like right now I could eat a mattress and it will taste like chicken.” She said with a mouth full of munched apple.
“I know that feeling trust me. My first job I didn’t know that I had to bring my own food along and just like this one they also made us wait for hours and by the time we were supposed to come out, I fainted. Like, I just Blacked out—” she chuckled and continued “—still the most embarrassing moment of my life and since then I always eat before I leave the house and always have fruits with me whenever I have a job.”
“How I wish we met earlier, so you had told me your story before now.” She replied and they both started laughing.
“Don’t worry, you will get the hang of it eventually.”
“I hope so, I’m Ehi by the way.” She said
“I’m Mani and I come from the Bronx so don’t let this pretty face fool you.”
“Oh yeah, girl I stay in South Side Jamaica what ya do?” She said with a smirk and when she saw the disbelief on Mani’s face she chuckled and continued.
“Originally from Albuquerque, just moved here for like six months now.”
“Wow, you had me there. Like for a second I was like this chick is hard, I mean I claim that I’m tough and all but nothing takes me to the south side at all, like I go to North Jamaica but I don’t dare try to act up and go south. It’s like everyday someone get shot over there like I don’t want to catch a bullet so I don’t even go there.” She said and rolled her eyes.
“It’s really not that bad, true people get shot a lot but if you don’t look for trouble then trouble don’t come looking for you. All you have to do is mind where you go and people you hang around with that’s all. But the truth is I wouldn’t really know much because I’m indoors most times and when I go out, it’s to the salon next door.”
“Okay, that makes sense. I had this friend from South Side too, I think his place is in the Baisley Projects. Instead of telling you where he is from, he just generalized it and be like ‘yo I’m from Queens’. He never got into details the exact place he came from.” “Maybe he didn’t want be part of a stereotype or something. Where is he now?”
“He is dead, he got shot and that’s how we knew where he lived. So tell me why do you want to be a model?”
“Honestly, I never really thought of modeling as a profession but everyone around me seem to think I will someday be a supermodel so I just decided to roll with it and then another reason was I’m trying to get as far away from my mother as possible.”
“She bugs you too much?”
“Nah, she is a Bytch!”
“OMG! It’s that bad?”
“But in a way you are lucky you know her, I never knew any of my parents, they died in an auto crash when I was still young. My grandma took care of me till I was six and she passed away and then I got into foster care from one family to the other and some of those families are real rough I can tell you that while some were pretty cool people but it never really felt like home you know, it’s like I have never really been part of a family. For a long time it hurt me. Like deep inside it did but I grew a tough skin and when I finally turned eighteen last year, I chucked up my deuces and bounced out without a care in the world. I tried getting some minor jobs to take care of my upkeep but I kept getting fired because my bosses couldn’t handle my attitude or so they say. Long story short some dude saw me outside this diner I used to work and said he will make me a star and I believed him, it turned out he only wanted free S£x but he kinda got me into the modeling industry. Once my feet were kinda strong, I kicked his Buttocks to the curbs and I have been hustling ever since.”
“Wow you are very strong, I don’t know if I would have been able to cope. I’m lucky the guy who scouted me is actually working hard to get me somewhere and he protects me like he is my big brother and all. Let’s just say I’m safe with him.”
“Then you are lucky but also be careful, he probably thinks of you as an investment so you better watch your steps because such people, if they think you are no longer profitable to them, there is no telling what they would do. But don’t be scared, it doesn’t necessary mean he is like that. All I’m saying is be careful.”
“Yeah, I gotcha but you know the funny thing? Even though it’s people that put the idea of modeling in my head, right now I really want to do it. It’s like I am no longer rolling with their words. I’m just trying to do something I have come to love.”
“Me too! Plus I love seeing my pictures and I love putting on makeup and posing for the cameras. I swear I can’t wait to be famous. I’ll be at every event whether invited or not” she said and they both burst into laughter. At that very moment a girl collapsed.
“OMG! I guess she didn’t eat too.” They burst into another round of laughter.
Finally they were given the signal that they were about to begin. So they went over to have their makeup retouched and hair pinned right. The event went smoothly and when it was over, Mani invited her out to eat at a Mexican restaurant just around the corner.
Mani and Ehi had to do a couple of shows over the next few weeks and their friendship grew. Though the shows were minor events, it was something and somehow their names were being passed around and they had more bookings.
A knock on the door woke Ehi up, she stretched and got up. She look around her and the room was very bright, so she figured it should be noon. She yawned and walked slowly towards the door, she opened it and found Cicero outside.
“Hey big head.” he said.
Instead of replying, she yawned and walked back to her couch and sat down. He followed her and shut the door.
“You look like a mess.”
“I feel like a mess, I got in late last night.”
“Oops, sorry. Another job?”
“Yeah, a photo shoot. What’s that in your hands?”
“Just fast food, I got you some French fries, hamburger and chocolate shake.”
When she reached out to collect the sack from his hands.
“Hell no, until you brush your teeth, you are not getting Nada ,don’t they teach you grooming in modeling, huh?” He said chuckling.
“Yes daddy, lemme brush my teeth. I hope you will also tell Santa that I have been a good girl?” She said as she walked into the bedroom to get some change of clothes and then headed towards the bathroom.
“Sure, I will. Where is your boyfriend by the way?”
“I have told you he is my agent, dumb head.” She entered the bathroom and shut the door, soon the shower was running. She came out some minutes later wearing a tank top and shorts “I’m clean now, so hand it over.” She said in a faked stern voice.
“Why are you sounding like one of my high school teachers?” He asked as he passed the sack to her. She brought out the shake, using the straw she drank with a loud slurp.
“Ewww, do you eat like that in public?”
“Nope, only when I’m with you.” She replied as she munched her hamburger hungrily.
“If Simeon catches me eating this, I will be in big trouble.”
“He doesn’t want me getting fat.” She said and rolled her eyes.
“I doubt that will ever happen. Like, you are so skinny, sometimes I’m scared for you.”
“He doesn’t see it that way. Plus you know now I have been getting a lot of jobs and I guess he doesn’t want anything that would jinx it.”
“I will be going back to school soon. I was wondering if you are free tomorrow, we could watch a movie and then get something to eat later on.”
“Sure, why not? You think I’m going to turn free food down? Hell no.”
“You do know you are crazy right?”
“Ermm, that’s old news. Tell me something new”
“Jesus Christ, I just can’t with you. I need to go see some friends and after that we will go ball so I guess I will see you later in the evening.”
“Okay, thanks for the food.”
“You are welcome, my momma said it’s been a while since she last saw you so you better go see her before she comes up here and spank you.”
Laughing she said “Don’t worry I will spend this afternoon with her.”
She accompanied him to the door and almost immediately the door opened and Simeon was glaring at them. Cicero nodded his head in greeting at him and strolled out and Simeon stepped in and banged the door.
“What was he doing here?”
“He came to see me.”
“Okay, so that’s how you roll now? Whenever I’m not around you invite your boyfriends over? Look here miss, this is my house and I have invested too much in you for you to mess this up. You better not push me to the wall! If not, you’re not gonna like the new me that will push back!” he said vehemently and stormed off to his room.
She stared at him as he walked away and wondered why he was acting up. Of late he seemed to be having mood swings. Whenever he wasn’t controlling what she ate or who she was being friends with, he was making her work out for hours. She shrugged and went back to her couch. She picked up a magazine she had been reading the previous day and started reading.