Stars – Pandora
She stared into the camera, hair artfully disheveled…
“O.K. Mack. Let’s try again!”
The photographer’s assistant’s chirpy British accent made Mackenzie want to scratch her eyes out.
“Energy up! Eyes wide!” she heard as the bright lights surrounding the camera exploded in a corona of flashes.
Mack felt her pupils contract and saw silver flashes when she blinked. Her eyelids felt heavy, like she had feathers attached to her lashes. She fought to keep her eyes from closing. She felt weak.
“I’m not sure we got that one. Let’s set her up again. Can we get some eye drops?” the photographers booming voice emanated from beyond the blinding ring of lights.
Mack tried to swallow but her mouth was so dry it caught in her throat. She knew better than to interrupt the set-dresser to ask for a glass of water. And she had also known not to drink any tea before the shoot so she wouldn’t have to run to the “loo” (and why the hell they called it that was a mystery to Mackenzie). But otherwise tea was all she’d had for days. Tea and heroin.
Modeling had proven to be much less glamorous than Mackenzie had envisioned. Her last summer at home she had grown an astonishing 8 inches to the towering height of 6’4”, making her the tallest person in her school (taller even than the boys on the basketball team). Spotted working as a barista at the sole Starbucks in her town, a visiting photographer had handed her his card suggesting she might try modeling. She’d spent the entire summer poring over fashion magazines, seeing herself on the warm beaches of St. Tropez, in gauzy shifts, covering barely-there bikinis. It was as far from her Mormon upbringing in Podunk Utah as she could imagine. But the reality of modeling was far, far, less enchanting: mostly she found herself with teeth chattering in a freezing cold London studio, up at 5am, no sand, sun or sea in sight.
And Mack was always very, very hungry. She’d been warned, in no uncertain terms, that she had to lose at least 25lbs before they’d let her walk down a runway in Paris.
“I’ve got just the thing for you to forget all about food,” one of her model roommate’s had offered. Even shot her up the first time.
So here Mack sat, freezing her ass off in a dreary London photography studio, her mouth dry as paper and her stomach a hollow shell. Luckily, the make-up artist was just finishing putting drops in her eyes when she felt tears of self-pity welling up.
“Here we go love, don’t let those tears ruin your make-up,” as he dabbed a tissue under her pin pricked eyes.
“Let’s go again,” came the call from the photographer. “Give me something good Mack!”
She stared into the piercing camera lens, hair disheveled, eyes wide…tensely awaiting the explosion of lights.
But something different happened this time. Instead of being blinded by the flashes, Mackenzie felt herself lifting. She felt the cool silk dress she’d been wearing slip off her shoulders as her body rose off the wooden platform. Her feet slipped free of the pinching high heels they had crammed her size 10 feet into. She gazed down at the scene below aghast at the pale crumpled form of her emaciated body. She felt buoyant and floated higher towards the windows at the top of the studio. Coming to the glass she saw the morning stars fading into the dawn. Slipping out the open window Mackenzie stretched her arms above and raced to the stars until she became one with them.