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Marla stared at the screen, reading her messages on the Modeliser site. It felt as if they were for someone else, someone who lived in the real world, someone who worked as a model. That seemed unimaginable to her now, but the woman in the images was definitely her.

He was there again, the new one, and he was doubling his offer to her. She wasn’t interested, of course, the very idea of going to some strange place to be photographed by a stranger now seemed outlandish, bizarre. Why would anyone do that? But despite her suspicions her vanity was a little touched by the high price this man was offering to shoot with her.

She looked again at some of her images, some of the ones Ryan had taken. This woman was another person, someone else, someone who lived in the warmth and the light. Someone who was loved and cared for. Someone who was considered beautiful.

That was a lie, they said that so you would do what they wanted. She was not beautiful, she was plain, ugly even, with her stupid face and her skank body, all bones and bumps.

She fumbled for a cigarette, shook the last one out, and lit it. The vodka was finished too, and her stomach was beginning to ache, just a little. She could not remember eating anything. Only cigarettes and vodka. Soon she would have to go outside, she would have to get as far as the convenience store and buy some more supplies.

But that was unthinkable. Perhaps later, she would feel strong enough to go out, think about it, work up to it. For now she would just lie on the floor, which was the best place for her.

Just lie on the floor, and try not to think about anything. Lie quietly on the floor, like a stone. No one knew where she was, no one at all. They would forget about her, move onto someone else, and she would be safe if she stayed very quiet and very still.