April 1, 2014

“How long do you think I have?” asked Emma. She was concentrating on sounding dispassionate and business-like, but her trembling left hand betrayed her. David looked across to Ian, who furrowed his brow and sat forward.
“Three months. Four perhaps. If we’re lucky. We’re already picking up a noticeable downturn though.”
“Is that all?” she sighed. Ian and David nodded grimly.

Emma peered across towards the office window as she sipped Diet Coke from a glass. She turned back to Ian and David to see them both gazing idly at her breasts. She didn’t bat an eyelid.
“So if I don’t go ahead with this. What do you envisage happening?” she asked. David leaned back on his chair, with a creak.
“We always knew this game-plan would reach a point where it simply wouldn’t be a effective anymore. Didn’t we?” Emma looked back towards the window. Ian cleared his throat.
“It’s worked really well for you up to this point, Ems. But we’re now very quickly approaching a time where it will start to hurt you more than help you. Do you understand what I’m saying?” Emma put her glass down and walked over to the window. She stood there in silence for a few moments before turning and folding her arms.
“And what if I refuse to go ahead with it?”
“No-one’s going to force you to do anything, Ems” Ian said. “It’s entirely your choice. All we can do is give you our opinion.”
“David? Will you still look after me if I don’t do it?”
“Of course, love.” He fell silent for a moment. “Of course.”

Emma turned back to the window and looked down at the street below her. It was still rush hour and all the traffic in the one-way system lurched forward together in slow, inevitable, unison. She could feel herself starting to well up, but she stopped herself. She had long since developed a little exercise to bring herself back from the brink of weeping.

Ian stood and joined Emma by the window.
“Look, Emma. This whole… never showing your nipples. I think it’s great. It’s wonderful. It’s a statement. It’s empowerment. It’s your… thing. But it’s finite. The truth of the matter is, your popularity is waning. You can see it in the sales figures. People are tired of waiting. They’ve been patient, but you have to give them something new.” Emma looked over at David. He smiled and nodded back.
“This magazine,” Ian continued, “employs nearly a hundred people. I have to think of them. Honestly, Ems. If I had my way, none of our girls would go topless. And listen, I understand that you’re scared… or uncomfortable, or… whatever. But the sad, cold, hard truth is… if you want us to book you, you need to start going topless. Fully.” Ian put a reassuring palm on Emma’s shoulder. “Do you know what I mean, darling?”

Emma started going through her exercise again. But she could tell it wasn’t working.
“OK” she nodded. “You’re right.”
“Good woman.” Ian smiled and winked at David. “We’ll schedule in a shoot for Friday. Does Friday suit Ems OK, David?”

“Friday’s good for us, Ian” replied David, looking at the floor.


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