Twenty

Twenty

Alexandria was still high on cocaine, on blow, the Saturday morning after her 20th birthday. She walked into the Duane Reade on Broadway, with a blue “Yale” baseball cap with white lettering over her raven hair; a present from her boyfriend who went there. Her body drowned in her Barnard hoodie, but she moved with strength and confidence through the aisles, something she picked up in her six months as a Wilhelmina model and years as a dancer.

On the newsstand, she picked up a Vogue. The glossy photo of Kate Moss stood out amongst the other magazines with models trying desperately to be her. As her lithe fingers moved the pages along, she came across a story on healthy eating on page 256. It told her to avoid carbs so she decided she would.  With her last bit of birthday money, sent to her by her parents, she bought low fat peach yogurt and a diet coke. She would be broke for a while but needed some money at that moment. Alexandria became addicted faster than she could realize it.

Outside of the drugstore, a guy whom she had met at a Zac Posen party the week before came to talk to her.

“Hey, you’re Alexandria right?” He asked, voice racing. Clearly he was high as well. “We met at that Posen party. You had on a black dress and bright red stilettos, I remember.”

“Yeah, that was me. If I can remember, you scored us some pretty awesome blow that night. I was so fucked up and damn that was good.” Her words popped out of her mouth, quick and excited, like hot oil from a hot skillet.

She switched the weight from her right to left leg, looked around for a moment then asked, “So do you have any on you right now?”

“Well how much money do you have?”

“None. I spent the last of it on this shit,” she told him as she raised the plastic bag up to chest level, an act she hoped would show him her desperation.

“Aww, come on sweetie, I don’t give freebies.  Besides, judging from the sweatshirt and cap, you come from money. What are you studying at Barnard anyway?” Before she could say anything he said, “Wait, let me guess. English literature?”

She looked disgusted. “Fuck you. I’m a new model so you know I don’t make shit for cash, I’ve already spent all my parents’ money on blow, and it’s Art History. Bastard.”

They both laughed and he motioned for them to start walking, back towards 116th, where the front gates of Barnard met Broadway.

“I’ll let you work for it though,” he told her.

“What will I have to do?” She asked, bright eyed and curious.

“All you have to do is fuck on camera.”

“Hell no, are you fucking kidding me? Not only would that ruin my career, but I’m a Barnard girl, we don’t do shit like that,” she told him, raising her voice to the astonishment of passerbys.

They made it to the front gate of the all girl school.

“Well you’ll have to do shit like that if you want to get high. So are you in?” He asked her aggressively, asserting how serious he was.

“I told you fuck no. Thanks for walking me.”

And as she was about to turn around and walk away from the worst decision of her life, he tapped her and said, “Here is my card. My cell is on it, so let me know if you ever change your mind.”

She took the card, went to her room and ate her yogurt. She could hardly taste it but it felt good in her mouth.

She came down hard during the day; felt lethargic then moped around her room until she couldn’t stand it anymore. Alexandria felt as if her body had been drained of all its energy, of its will, and she knew what would make her feel alive again.

She laid there, thinking about what lead her to contemplate calling him? What lead her to think that she needed something so bad, she’d compromise all that she’d work for? Her life up until that point had been so perfect.

* * *

Alexandria grew up in Scottsdale, Arizona to an investment banker father and writer mother. Her parents demanded the best and they got it.

“We’re successful people Alexandria, don’t let us down,” her father once told her on one of their weekly hikes through Camelback Mountain.

“Don’t be silly daddy, I know not to disappoint,” she said back with the pressure of the world on her thirteen year old shoulders, eyes stagnant and fixed to the sky.

He smiled back at her with parental approval.

For high school, mom and dad sent her to the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire.  She excelled in school and was always at the top of her class.

“In my family, it’s just natural to be the best,” she told her classmates with arrogance and insecurity, both the same in her.

Alexandria danced ballet, and loved it. Long hours and perseverance assured her a top spot in every production, plus a body that most of her classmates envied. People always noticed her for one reason or another.

She did exceptionally well at anything else she tried; she was the quintessential Type-A. She was perfect.

* * *

But New York changed her. Her sophomore year at Barnard, she was spotted in Times Square by a photographer.

“Your face is amazing,” he told her as she made her way though Virgin Megastore.

“Excuse me?” she asked, uncomfortable and intrigued at the same time, pushing her hair behind her ear with a half smile.

“Oh sorry. I’m a freelance photographer. I do a lot of work with the major glossies and I have to say you are one of the most devastatingly beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. Have you ever thought about modeling?”

“No not really,” she told him, wondering where the conversation and her long thin limbs would take her.

“I’m pretty close with some people at Wilhelmina, I could arrange a meeting.”

     She chuckled and said, “Ummm, Ok.”

     The two exchanged numbers.

     Two weeks later she met with the agency, and arranged for her to take some test shots. The agency, of course, fell in love with the photos and signed her within a week.

She caught the eye of some small designers and graced the runway for a few shows, with cameras fixated on her flawless lily white skin and perfect walk.  After a month or so however, she was noticed by some of the top designers. Although a successful model, she quickly realized that unless you are modeling for a top fashion house or featured in a huge campaign, diet coke and cigarettes are all most models can afford. At least her parents still paid for things the thought.

Not too long after she started walking the runway for Zac Posen, she living the model life to the fullest. Much to the initial chagrin of her parents, modeling took her away from her studies, but not to a point where it became a problem, because she knew she could just lie to keep them happy.

     Alexandria never lied to them before, but she figured she had to; she couldn’t disappoint.

     So she lied about her grades, her health, her boyfriend and everything else they asked about. Pretty soon, “fantastic” was her favorite word on long distance calls to her parents.

“My classes are fantastic,” she told them, holding back tears because they were far from it. She hadn’t gone to class in weeks and was told by professors that she would fail the semester if she didn’t start going soon. She tried.

* * *

It was at an after party where she was introduced to blow. Diane, a model friend of hers brought over a small mirror to the black sofa Alexandria was slouched on. She took a small vial out of her clutch and emptied a stack of white powder onto the mirror. She used a razor to cut the cocaine and make 4 thin lines; the width of a pencil and the length of a crayon.

“From the look on your face, I’d say you’ve never tried this before.”

“Ummm, no I haven’t,” Alexandria replied, uncomfortable and pale faced.

“You have to try it. I can’t even describe how it makes you feel. Come on Alex, everyone does it; it’s not a big deal.

So she tried it and of course, she liked it; everyone does.  From that night on, she tried it casually, only using it when it was around at parties.

But it was always at the parties she went to, and it was always free. However, the generosity of her friends ran out eventually and she had to find a way to pay for her high. She started eliminating unnecessary purchases and used the money that her parents gave her for cocaine, but after a while, even that wasn’t enough.

 

 

 

* * *

     She called the number on the card and told him that she’d do whatever he wanted her to.

     “I have a studio in Chelsea, be here in an hour,” he told her  as he gave her the exact address and instructions on what to bring.

     The subway ride was cold that Saturday night.

     She followed his directions and showed up to the studio in black bra and panties under a trench coat.

     “Take off the coat and lay there,” as he pointed towards the bed with a camera placed at the foot of it. He waited for her to crawl onto the bed, then said, “Touch yourself for the camera.”

     She was nervous and hesitated but noticed him in the background of the studio, putting the white powder on a glass table with deep ridges made from countless razor blades.

     Her nervousness left her and she immediately came around. She did what he told her until he was satisfied.

     “Now get your ass over here and have some nose candy babe.” And with that she snorted up her last bit of dignity through a hundred dollar bill, which he gave her.

At least he let her keep that she thought.

And then he fucked her as she cried, and until she fell asleep.

* * *

     She woke up to him the next morning and realized he never told her his name. Alexandria felt disgusting and was disgusted at herself, but returned to her room to shower the smell of cigarette smoke off her thin frame and to apply make up to hide her face from the judgmental eyes of her parents.

They were in town to celebrate her birthday. Luckily she got up in time to join them for church. As she walked in she could follow their eyes as they followed her body. They knew something was up but didn’t say anything. They’d known for a while.

“Alexandria, how are you?” Her father asked.

“I’m doing great, just a little tired,” she told him, knowing full well that he knew that his perfect little girl had faltered.

He left her alone.

They went to brunch at Carne on the upper west side where Alexandria ordered lemonade, sweetened with two Splendas and a bowl of strawberries.

“Is that all you’re going to eat honey?” her usually quiet mother asked. “You should probably get more than just that, you look so gaunt.”

“Mom, I’m a model, this is how everyone eats. Don’t worry.”

There was a long silence before her father took his face from behind the leather bound menu and said, “Well Alexandria, you look like shit.”

He took a sip of water, and she noticed that his eyes were disappointed.

“He’s right Alexandria,” her mom said; she was more concerned than mad and Alexandria could sense it. “You look like one of those girls in one of those magazines. I read that a lot of models do drugs and sleep around. Sweetie, we hope you’re not into stuff like that.”

She sat back in her chair, smiled and said, “Don’t be silly,” then excused herself from the table to do another line in the restroom.


About this entry