The red door stood stark against a street of black counterparts. It was the exact shade of the virtual lipstick signature that sat at the end of the email she’d sent.
She called herself Darling.
I leant towards the lacquered wood and heard only space behind it. I glanced again at the piece of paper in my hand. There was no sign on the door and no number, just the potted topiary trees that she had described when she’d called to tell me to come to the audition. That word carried a certain chesty self-assurance.
I had told my friends I was going for an interview.
I knocked. The door swung inwards, revealing a dark hallway lined with leather cubes. Each foam filled box had a girl balanced on top. One sat empty and uninviting in the corner.
My heels ticked across the slate floor as I edged around the door. It was latched behind me by a man dressed in a suit that hugged his broad shoulders as though it was clinging on for life. I smiled in greeting but he remained mute and expressionless.
The hallway stood as silent as the void I had heard from the other side. My stomach growled in protest of my liquid caffeine breakfast. A girl with bleached yellow hair leered at my waist.
I should have had another cigarette.
By the time I’d been in London for a month I had convinced myself I was anaemic. Certain that my countryside reared blood couldn’t fuel my body in the way it did every other Londoner’s, I would chew on Pro Plus tablets with droopy eyes and a languid brain that had forgotten to swallow. I could still taste the morning’s dose; the bitterness had bonded with my taste buds as the coagulated powder sifted down my oesophagus unwillingly.
I heard her imminent entrance. The straightening of their backs and the fluffing of their locks told me that they had heard too. We stood to attention as she greeted us, her set of ghost white porcelain teeth flicking out from between rouged lips.
She marched us down the stairs and into a low-lit room cocooned beneath the city. A chequered floor stood at the centre, surrounded by tufted red velvet booths, each of which tilted towards a mirrored pole that stood at the helm.