GWEN

I picked up my office phone and grunted into the receiver. “Yes?”

“Mrs. Miles, the girls have-“

“Alright, Percy, send me four.”

Percy paused. “There are… Seven of them.”

“Percy, you’ve done it a million times. Pick the thinnest, the most hairless, the – the most innocent-looking, anything! Just send me four girls, Percy, I don’t have all day.”

“Alright,” sighed Percy, my poor genderless assistant. Soon, my double-doors were pushed open by Percy’s bony hands as the person carried themself into the room in all their glory, followed by young, smooth-shinned, innocent-looking and awfully inexperienced wannabes. Percy stood before my desk, right at the heart of the room, standing tall. The girls were doing an awful job imitating Percy.

I pushed up my glasses, fanning my eyelashes subtly, switching my gaze from a girl to another, looking at them up and down. I was done grading them before Percy caught their breath to speak to me, moving their bony fingers as they spoke, exercising extra stress over hissy letters.

“As requested, here are the better four.”

“Mm-hmm.” I pushed back my chair and stood up behind my desk, placing my palms onto the surface and leaning slightly forward to strike a pose these wannabe models could never be able to strike from the get-go. “Thank you, Percy.”

Percy got the cue and nodded before leaving the room with quick, yet tiny, steps. Then, it was just us. Me and the four girls – all but one of whom were staring at me in awe. The odd one was looking down, rather blushing.

“You there,” I whizzed. “Care to look up?”

The other three giggled. I raised my hand to stop the reaction, which they picked up quicker than I had expected.

“Yes, you. I will make a model out of you.” I turned to the other girls. “You three may leave. This is the one I want to work with.”

They tilted their heads, shifted their weights between their legs and would not leave.

“I am serious,” I continued. “Please, leave.”

The girls hesitated to take the first step, but soon, they were heading for the door. One of them turned to me before leaving. “Your brand depends on girls. One day, you’ll come knocking-“

“Honey, you’re the one crying at my doorstep,” I chuckled. “You depend on my brand.”

She shook her head in disdain and left. Maybe she would never buy our products again. I could not care less.

Percy closed the door that the last girl had the courtesy to leave open. Once I was sure that it was sealed tight, I moved towards the timid one.

“What is your name, sweetie?”

“Helen.”

“No. That is not a good name.” I gently touched her chin to lift up her tiny, perfectly-sculptured face. Her puzzled gaze locked into my eyes. “We have to give you a new name. Anything in mind?”

She did not respond. I held back a chuckle. She was blushing, with no confidence.

“I love working with girls like you,” I continued. “I love how I change you. It makes me feel powerful.” I winked and got back to my desk, picking up my phone and pressing one of the few buttons. “Percy, I need you to take Gwen shopping. Buy whatever she wants. It’s a welcoming gift from me.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

I put the phone down and grinned. “Welcome to the family, Gwen.”

She was looking down.

Image credit: Edina Csoboth

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