A Nameless Woman
A woman is silhouetted against a blue backdrop. She is sitting down and we see her from the waist up. She is talking to someone sitting opposite her, smoking as she does. When she talks a cacophony of images that might be seen in women’s magazines flash above her head, pictures of celebrities and clothes and beauty products, which change too quickly to be seen. The images cease when she pauses in speech. Her manner of speaking flips between that of a comforting older relative and a bitchy gossip reporter. She reads out the phrases in capitals in a completely different manner, she becomes stiff and sounds like an advert voiceover, before seemingly forgetting all about it. She has a warm voice, A Southern English accent.
I’ve missed you lately. She inhales on her cigarette
Exhaling then beginning You used to turn around to me with such recognition in your eyes, so happy to see me, there and then. These days it seems you just walk on by. But I want you to remember the good times. I want you to remember how close we once were. She taps the end of the cigarette into an ashtray in a noticeable movement.
Sits up straight to begin We met when you were very young, probably about six or seven. Laughs, then with a smile in her voice I was always hanging around the IT’S YOUR PARTY, SHINE IF YOU WANT TO house. I was someone your mother liked at first, but you grew to like me too. Your mother’s style was always a bit white trash circa 1985 in that disastrous leopard skin, but you always had a very evolved ½ PRICE ON OOH LA LA sense of personal style.
You loved my advice. She inhales on her cigarette
Exhaling then continuing I taught you so much. How to dress for your shape, how to find him and keep him, how to get the perfect job. You only needed to think a question and I would MILLIONIZE TO EXCESS SLEEK DEFINITION answer it: big print, small you, never say yes to a weekend date after a Wednesday, loafers and pencil skirts. Rinse and repeat.
You admired me, and I could see why. She inhales on her cigarette
Exhaling, then continuing My life was, and is, fabulous. I never believed in limits. I’ve been everything really, you know that. I’ve certainly worn VOLUME MILLION LASHES everything, name a label and I probably wore it. I’ve seen anyone worth seeing. I’m always in the best locations: cocktails on a Tuesday night at Sanctuary, hitting the shops on Oxford road, having down time in SURF SPRAY FOR SEXY BEACHY WINDSWEPT STYLES an upmarket coffee shop with Wi-Fi; on holiday with the girls to Portugal, on a mini break with that special someone. You should always have a weekend bag for that special trip, perhaps to some exotic location to really feel like you’re in that film I told you about, was it couples retreat? The beach in that is L U S H.
She taps the end of the cigarette in a slowly, three taps. And so I told you which Hollywood Heart throbs to scour Google images for, how day to evening wear can happen with killer spikes and a boxy jacket. I told you about the HAIR SO FRESH IT FLIRTS FOR YOU important things too. Sex. Marriage. Relationships. Dieting. Weddings. World conflicts. Plastic surgery. We could always just hang out. We moaned about our manicures interfering with our iPhone screens and occasionally we indulged in devilish cupcakes or brow-beating brownies. Sighing They were so delish.
You were so unique. She inhales on her cigarette
Exhaling, then continuing You still are. Your style and your sense of identity were always so evolved. Investment pieces were key. The classic white shirt. The iconic jeans. The slouchy boyfriend cardigan. But of course you always loved to IT’S NOT JUST A FOUNDATION update your look with the latest trends. Pastels but leopard skin but power dressing. What I stress to you now is what I always wanted to stress. Your style is your identity, and your identity is you. And you can’t change NOT YOUR USUAL CHRISTMAS you for anyone. Not a man, not anyone. Compromise, however, is inevitable. Joel, 24, from Birmingham works in Sports marketing and likes girls to be stylish with a quirky edge. Just something to think about.
It was when you hit your teens that our friendship really blossomed. It was then that you needed me more and more. You would come to me sobbing, your cheeks stained with the markers of your insecurity and I would tell you what to buy to make yourself feel better. I would wipe away your tears like cheap lipstick and tell you to always go for gloss. You would nod, you would agree. You would start again. New season, new you. Looking through your wardrobe, thinking, “I have nothing to wear for who I want to be today” This is when we would go shopping together. I would hold your hand.
But now I haven’t seen you in months. She inhales on her cigarette
She exhales, and her hand is shaking as she taps off the end of her cigarette. Her voice becomes strained, high pitch, almost hysterical. And I know it’s just a matter of time before you come back to me, but I can’t pretend I don’t miss you. I miss you every week, every month. I need you to keep me alive. I need you to value my advice, to appreciate my recommendations. I need you to love me, because otherwise I’ll fade away. I’ll fall right back into that hell they call self-respect, confidence, autonomy. I call it hell.
Don’t leave me there.
The images stop flashing and the lens zooms out onto a magazine rack in a shop. We see hands reaching for the women’s lifestyle and fashion magazines.
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