Swallow, Smile

By: Lala The Panda

Chapter One: Smile Like You Mean It

Have you ever picked up and opened one of those fashion magazines like Teen Vogue or Elle Girl and see those skin and bone teen models all dressed up in the season's trends from head to toe?


Okay then, how about those girls who walk the halls at the same high school you went to or currently attend? You know, the girls with twiggy limbs and a face made for modeling?


Great. Now that you have a visual image of them, you now have a vague description of me. Yes. I am a teenage model. Currently sixteen, but I've been working the runways and camera since middle school.

Bet you are now thinking that I have the most fabulous teenage life EVER. Wrong. Well, sure, I have my perks, like the large paycheck, all the places I visit, and the free stuff.

But the fashion world is a sick and sad world. It's a world I want to stay in but at the same time I want to get on my hands and knees and crawl out. The constant pressure from the agencies, the long hours on the plane, the days spent away from home, the methods models use to stay thin, the drug and alcohol abuse that happens backstage… if you become a model, all of that comes with your paycheck, whether you want it or not.

I learned that the hard way. Experience all of it, well… except the drug and alcohol abuse part. It's a hard world to grow up in. Yet, I am addicted to my job. I love to see myself in fashion ads and spreads in the magazines I read on the plane. I crave for the adrenaline I get when I walk the runway.

But, all that comes with a price. Freedom. Dignity. Pride. Like I said, the fashion world, my world, is a hollow place to be in.

See what's underneath the cake of makeup.

Ignore the CHANEL no. 5.

Look pass the glossy images.

Take some time out of your life and step into my world. You'll have fun.


On page 89, in the September issue of Teen Vogue, you will see a picture of a young girl. Her angel hair is as dark as a demon's heart. Her side bangs are held back by a small pin and her natural wavy hair cascades down to her back, some even falling over her shoulders. She has the most mesmerizing pair of light brown orbs in her eye sockets. Her rosy lips are parted; you can almost see her heavenly white teeth. Her olive skin is perfect thanks to the computer's airbrush.

Her body adorned the fall's most chic clothing. The fabrics almost looked like they are hanging off her tall slender frame. At the bottom of the page, it read: MARC JACOBS.

That's me. Don't believe me? Well, too bad. It's the damn truth. Want more evidence? Well, see that Sephora catalog on my desk over there? See that cover? Can you guess who that girl is?

Me? Damn straight it is.

I threw the fashion magazine onto the bed across the room. I slump against the back of my plush suede chair and picked up the remote that was lying beside me. I push the button play, and a sword fight rang from the surround-sound system. Johnny Depp, in all of his pirate glory, appeared on the screen.

Oh how I love this movie. I continued to watch the film until I heard the familiar ring coming from my cell phone. I grabbed the sleek black phone from the side table that was adjacent to my chair. I flipped open the phone and placed it against my ear.

"Hell-" I said into the mouthpiece but was abruptly cut off by a girl shrieking incoherent words. I had no doubt who it was. "Charlie, what's wrong now?" I asked as I lowered the volume on the TV.

The girl on the other end of the call suddenly stopped. "What makes you think something is wrong?"

"Well-" I began but was cut off… again.

"The BEST thing EVER has happened!"

My eyebrow formed an arch. "Oh really? What is it?"

"Don't you want to guess what it is?"


"Fine!" she said with a sigh. "Well, guess who got a job at Crazy Bean today!"

My mind went blank, well, almost. It couldn't have been Charlie; she already has a job at the most chic and underground coffee house in all of Los Angeles. Suddenly, a name and face just popped into my head. My mouth twisted into a smile.

"Oh, could it be a young strapping lad by the name Marc and talks like this?" I asked in the fakest Brooklyn accent I could muster.

"YES!" she screeched into my ears. Stupid cell phone.

Now, you wonder, who is this young chap called Marc? Well, Marc is this senior from the school Charlie and I attend. Marc is a native New Yorker. Three years ago he moved here, Los Angeles, California. Charlie and I first laid our eyes on him during second semester Biology in our freshman year. Ever since then, Charlie has harbored a crush for the heartthrob. I frankly, see him more of a friend than a potential soul mate.

"And you know what the next best thing is?" she pressed on.

"He works the same nights and hours you do?"

"YES!" she howled into my ear. I think she died and gone to heaven…

"I think I died and gone to heaven, Marie!" she cried, repeating my thoughts.

"That's nice honey." After we exchanged a few more words our conversation ended and I place my phone back to where it laid. I turned a volume louder and slumped back into my chair.

Towards the end of the movie I head the loud roar of a car engine and the garage door opening. I paused the movie when I heard my older brother yelling from the first floor, "dinner is here!"

I replied by leaving my room. I went down the stairs and entered the kitchen to see my brother placing Japanese take-out on the breakfast table. "Hey bro," I greeted as I pulled a chair out. "Did you get my favorite?"

He pushed a Styrofoam box towards me. I opened and was greeted by four pieces of tempura shrimp. Tasty. Just as I was going to indulge myself I heard an annoyingly loud ring. It was the house phone. I picked up the cordless phone and answered it.


"Is Dr. McCarthey there?" a voice asked.

"Yeah, hold on." I handed to phone to my brother who took it and went to the empty living room. By the time I finished my first shrimp, I saw my brother putting his shoes on in the hallway.

"David, where are you going?" I asked as he stood up. He walked over to the table and picked his white doctor's coat off one of the chairs. "Work? You just came back!"

"One of my patients needs an emergency surgery-" he began as he slipped on the white coat that symbolized his status as a doctor, well, a surgeon really.

"And you need to be there," I finished. He nodded. I hung my head. During the past months we haven't spent much time together. I knew that and he knew that too.

He scratched the back of his head. "Hey, how about on Sunday after church we go to that one movie you wanted to watch?"

"V For Vendetta?" I asked. He nodded. "Sure."

"Okay, it's a plan," He answered before heading out. I heard the garage door open. The door opened again and my brother stuck his head inside the house again. "What now?" I asked.

"You better eat all of your food," he said in a serious tone. "I better see no leftovers this time. Doctor's orders."

"I know!" I waved him off. He sighed and muttered something before closing the door. Once more I heard the loud roar of his car and in a few moments the house went dead silent. I started at the box of food before me. The thought of eating more made me sick. Sure I love tempura shrimp but…

With a sigh I forced myself to eat another shrimp. I placed the rest of my dinner and my brother's into the fridge and went upstairs.

"Doctor's orders my ass," I muttered before entering my bathroom and heading for the toilet.


Around nine at night I jumped into my something year old pre-owned navy blue Volvo and pulled out of the driveway. I turned on my iPod, which was connected to the stereo, and played the song that was stuck in my head, Fake Plastic Trees by Radiohead.

A few stoplights and intersections later I parked in front of the local video store. I stepped out of my car and entered the building with two DVDs in hand. I was still wearing my white pajama pants and black Lacoste polo from before. My hair was in a messy bun and all I had was Chap Stick on my face. My feet graced a pair of four-year-old hot pink flip-flops and my arm candy was a Gucci bag from the 80s that I bought from a vintage designer store somewhere on Melrose.

How unglamorous of my to step out in public like this. It doest matter, most Americans have no clue who I am. Some might recognize me from some high fashion ad, or some magazine. Other than that, in the great US of A, I am another face with perfect facial structure. Now if this were England… then I wouldn't dare to step out in public like this. Especial now, but you'll hear that story when the time comes.

After returning the DVDs, my hands skimmed though the new releases. Nothing good this week, oh well. I sighed and went off to look for some other movies. Twenty minutes later, I was standing in line with two DVDs in my hands, waiting to check them out. I came to the counter and flashed the guy a smile.

"Hey, Jonas," I said warmly.

"H-hey, Marie…" His voice wavered as he pushed his glasses up his acne-scarred nose. "Monty Python and Sleep Hollow, good choices."

"Thanks." I handed him my members' card. After typing something in computer and scanning the DVDs he handed me the DVDs in a plastic bag. "See you next week," I said with another smile.

"Yea…" he replied, his voice still squeaky.

I have to find him someone else to crush on… I slid into my car and drove off. Damn. A train. Crap. It's one of those long cargo ones too. As I slumped into the driver's seat my cell rang.


"Marie!" screamed the voice of my agent.

"Hey, Elliot," I greeted dryly.

"I've set up a interview with Sparkle tomorrow!"

I groaned. I hate Sparkle. Sparkle is the number one tabloid magazine with young adults, ages thirteen to late twenties, in Britain. They were the first to print pictures of a certain dilemma of mines.

"Should I be happy?"

"Yes! You can finally set the word straight!"

"They twist words, Elliot…."

"They won't."

"You are blind."

She signed. "Will you do the interview though?"

"Sure. But I have school."

"It's after school."

"How lovely."

There was another phone ringing in the background. "Okay, I have to go. I'll send someone from the agency to pick you up from school tomorrow, kay?"

"Okay, bye." I hung up the phone, just as the car in front of me began to move.


Shit. They gave me a crappy chair. I mentally cursed out the interviewer in my head. I sat with my back straight and my shoulders back. My feet are neatly planted next to each other and my left hand is on my lap while the other is on the armrest. I looked up at the reporter.

Just as I expected.

She looked like a reporter for a tabloid magazine. She wore her hair in an extremely tight ponytail. Her black suit didn't even have lint on them and her red pumps were shinny like lip-gloss. Her pen was poised in her fingers and a tape recorder sat on the small coffee table between us.

"Good afternoon, Miss McCarthey. I am Stella Rodgers, I am a reporter for Sparkle," she greeted rather quickly in a Cockney accent. ascent. "I have a few questions, to ask."

"Okay, fire away," I replied with a small smirk dancing on my lips. She looked down at her notes before she looked up at me again, curiosity filling her eyes. She opened her lips and asked the first question.

"So, care to tell us the details?"


"Crappy interview, eh?" Charlie poured me a large cup of hot chocolate. "This one is on the house," she added as she set the pot down on a coaster and sat the barstool next to mine's. "Bullshit your way though?"

"I told more lies than governor," I said causally. "Anyways, when does Marc start working?"

"Next week," She answered, her fingers tracing the rim of the pot of hot chocolate. "One long week."

"Don't you have work?" I asked. It's not that I don't like her company, but the girl has a job! I hope her shift manager isn't around.

"Screw that, it's a slow night," she said, tightening her apron.

"It's a Friday night."

"Big whoop."

I took a long sip of the hot coco. "This one is good, you make it?"

"Shit no, Brian did," she replied, referring to the guy who was working the register at the moment. I just shook my head. I have no clue why she got a job. A few moments later, Charlie saw her shift manager coming out of the storage room and dashed off the barstool and went to a costumer who'd been trying to catch her attention for the last two minutes.

I saw that my mug was empty and that she left the hot coco pot. I discreetly poured myself another cup. I took comfort in the short warm sensation it gave me. I then felt something vibrating in my bag. I took out the cell phone, not bothering to check who it was and the screen and answered it. Biggest mistake of my day.

I slumped against the back of the chair as I brought the phone to my ear.



My slumped body went rigid for a second before I sat upright. In full astonishment, I replied back, "Bruce?"


Author's Note:

Thanks for reading. Please, oh please review! Helpful criticisms are welcomed, unless they are harsh and make me all sad. Flames will be met with water. I hope that this story is not a dud, and will need reviews in order to keep it alive.

I'm sorry for any spelling and grammar mistakes that I missed. I'm afraid to bother my BETA-er because we are both ungodly busy high school students.

Disclaimer: Every single thing that is familiar (example: CHANEL, Johnny Depp), I do not own. I'm not rich, and I do not want to see a lawyer at my door any time soon. The characters and the plot are mine. NO STEALING!

So yeah

-Lala The Panda