She pulled tendrils of her stringy blond hair away from her sweating face, careful not to mess up the back, while waiting for her turn. It was so hot, under all those lights. Runway was so different here. Near Tanya’s hometown in East Texas she had done quite a bit of modeling for Macy’s and JcPenny’s. Even Dillards a few times. Never had the mall lights been as fierce as these.
“Uh, you’re up,” the girl that had elbowed her hissed.
She snapped to, standing up straight and sucking in her stomach. Here I go. Tanya walked out onto the catwalk, seeing nothing but the edges of the slick white walkway in front of her and the hot lights directed on the stage. She stuck her chin out and walked one foot in front of the utter, swinging her arms like she had seen the other girls do. She tried to look angry and pouty like they had, but she was concentrating too hard on where she was walking. Finally she was stepping down into the cool darkness of the backstage curtain.
“All right, good job. Now if you’ll just wait behind Amanda over there, we can do the final walk.” A girl with a headset told her as she clutched her arm and ushered her behind a girl in a red teddy.
As she walked by, she heard some of the other girls snickering. “Baby deer” one of them whispered and they all burst into another quiet fit of giggles.
She stood there, watching the other models come off the runway, flushed and smiling. She didn’t feel the way they looked. So confident. So sure of themselves.
She tapped the girl in the red teddy on the shoulder, “Hey, I’m Tanya.” She said smiling, her hand extended.
The girl in the red teddy turned and looked at her, then down at her hand. She just looked at it, “Amanda,” she said without smiling and started to turn.
“How do you think you did ?” Tanya tried again.
Amanda sighed heavily and turned around to face her, hands on hips, “Look, Tammy, you seem real nice, so let me give you a bit of advice. We all can’t just do anything. Some people are good models, some aren’t, you know ? ” She turned back leaving Tanya to stare at the back of her head.
Tanya was pulling her sweater over her head when her phone rang. “Hey, Mom. Yeah, it’s over. Yeah, I did great. Yes, I made a lot of new friends. Do I think I’m going to keep doing this? Yeah, I really think this is what I am supposed to do."