“Have you found a job?”
I cringed, holding my cell away before I could utter something I would regret. I’d been on the phone with my mother for less than a minute and already she was asking the question I’d been dreading.
“Working on it,” I told her, staring at the open webpages in front of me: remnants of my hopeless search.
I had just graduated from NYU with the most useless degree imaginable—a Bachelor of Fine Arts in sketching and drawing—and was facing the reality of my decision. I had to move out of my apartment in student residence by the end of the week, and I hadn’t found a new place to live, let alone a job to pay for it.
“New York is expensive,” Mom continued. “I hope you have a plan.”
My fingers closed tightly around my phone. Her meaning wasn’t lost on me; the plan had always been for me to enter law school after completing my BFA, and now that I wasn’t, my parents were cutting me off. They were hoping I’d crash and burn and come running back to them saying how right they were and pleading with them to send me. I was their only child and they had all their eggs in one basket.
Then she began the guilt trip. “Your father and I are very worried about you, darling. You’re all alone in such a big city and have no way to support yourself. I really wish you’d reconsider—”
I cut her off before she could continue, claiming a roommate emergency. “I smell smoke… I think Sam burnt something. Sorry, Mom—gotta go!”
Groaning loudly, I hit END and let my head fall into my hands. All my life, I’d strived to be the perfect daughter my parents wanted me to be and done whatever they wanted me to do. They’d raised me to be well-mannered, modest, ambitious and concerned about financial security…but it wasn’t me. When I finally decided to forge my own path and pursue my love of the arts, I felt free for the first time in my life. I could be whomever I wanted and do whatever made me happy.
Now it looked like my decision was threatening to blow up in my face.
Sighing miserably, I scrolled through the search results again: retail, restaurant industry, retail, telemarketing. I was about to close the page and give up for the night when I saw the ad. It was at the top of the page in one of those paid advertising spots, written in bold: Modeling Opportunity. I definitely wasn’t model material, but out of curiosity, I clicked the link.
“Modeling Opportunity: Model must be female, in her twenties, blonde, 5’0”-5’5”, 100-120 lbs. Lower end of height and weight scale preferred. Picture required with application.”
My mouth dropped open. It was like the ad was made for me.
I stared at my computer screen for a long time, processing this. Being barely over five feet, I’d never considered modeling a viable career option. What modeling position asked for a tiny female? A line of clothes for petite women was my only guess. But even at the proper height and weight, could I be a model? People had told me I was pretty, and though my hair was growing darker, I was one of those rare natural blondes at the age of twenty-two. Maybe I had a chance.
I pulled my legs up onto the chair, wrapped my arms around them as I read through the ad again. The weirdest thing was that it had a numbered email address rather than a company name, so I couldn’t even research the company. What’s more, if I applied, I wouldn’t know where my picture was going. But did that matter? Worst case scenario: some weirdo had my picture. Best case scenario: I got a job.
As I opened my pictures folder and began to skim through, Sam entered.
“What are you up to?”
I slammed the lid of my laptop closed.
“Whoa! What are you doing that you don’t want me to see?”
Sam sat down on the edge of my bed holding a bottle of red wine in one hand and two glasses in another. “I thought we’d celebrate graduation!” she smiled,