Pen

The Best of Times Short Story Competition


Spring 2019 Results




Jeans to Die For

Copyright © Sue Clayton 2019


I’m a model, know what I mean. Shake my little tush on the catwalk machine. Or so the song goes.

Araminta Belvedere, that’s me, top class model—the Jerry Hall, Rachel Hunter type—blonde, beautiful, classy. I live alone in my two-bedroom tasteful and expensive apartment, except for Madame Matisse, my Burmese cat. Dressed from head to toe in designer clothes I dine on gourmet meals at five-star restaurants with besotted five-star admirers. Madame Matisse dines on smoked Alaskan salmon and Fricassee chicken in rich gravy sauce.

My tush shakes until the night the modelling agency insists I wear a midnight blue tube top that barely covers my plum-size breasts and towering black stiletto-heeled boots to show off the brand’s latest range of their ‘to-die-for drainpipe denim jeans’.

End of the catwalk, twizzle, turn and beam at the audience. Cameras flash. The jeans creep up into places where no decent jeans should go. Swivelling hips try to wriggle them back out. Lethal six-inch heel catches in a tiny crack on the catwalk—I shriek and plunge headlong to the floor; nipples peek out over the top of the tube.

“Oh My God,” shrieks of concern from the audience while chuckles of derision float down from the other models waiting in the wings. One less is always a bonus in our vicious game.

Touchdown had been heavy; bum stuck up in the air, leg and arm contorted beneath me, mind-blowing pain. And wouldn’t you just know it, the jeans had split up the backside and I wasn’t wearing any knickers.

Journalist cameras flash—this was better than the fashion show—this was mayhem. She might even be dead. Headlines in the Rag Mags would scream designer seeks novel way to advertise their creations.

“Good news and bad news,” the doctor greets me when I wake in hospital some hours later. “Your arm’s only slightly sprained,” he gives a wry smile. “But your leg is broken in so many pieces the surgeon would’ve had more success putting a jigsaw puzzle together.”

I’d be able to walk, after a fashion, excuse the pun, but my leg would be misshapen for the rest of my life unless I could afford restorative surgery.

“Come on, guys, you’ve got to give me something to live on,” I plead with the modelling agency. Compensation funds were taking a long time to reach my depleted bank account.

“Litigation is a slow process,” they mutter.

“Stuff litigation,” I had my right of reply. I couldn’t go on living hand to mouth, day in day out. And Madame Matisse isn’t used to home brand.

Months slip by and still no sign of a compensation cheque; I’m forced to join the lines of the unemployed, misshapen leg hidden in the folds of baggy denim jeans that nobody would die for.

“What’s a beautiful girl like you doing in a queue like this?” asks a fellow job seeker. “You could be a model.”

I vacate my airy two-bedroomed apartment for a roach infested bed-sit. Clothes become last year’s off the peg variety or bargains from the Second Hand Rose shop down the street. Madame Matisse is my only dinner date; she doesn’t mind that I’m crippled so long as I can still open a can, even it is second-rate tuna.

Two years pass since my luckless leap. Still on the dole but seeing a pleasant, homely sort of man who tries his best to convince me there’s more to life than designer clothes and five star restaurants and that my previous ego has disguised the beautiful person with a good moral outlook who lives inside me. I strive to believe him.

“Sorry it’s taken so long Araminta,” my solicitor rings one morning. “Payback time’s arrived. Your case against the modelling agency is listed in court for 9.00 am next Monday.”

I can’t believe it. The judge awards me $2.25 million—for loss of mobility, loss of earnings, pain, hospitalization and trauma.

“It’s not you…” I tell homely and pleasant. “We’re just not meant to be.”

I move into an expensive penthouse and engage the best orthopaedic surgeon to straighten my leg.

Buy cases of gourmet salmon and Fricassee chicken for Madame Matisse, designer clothes for me. Five star restaurants and besotted admirers—my tush is ready to shake.