She stared at herself in the cracked and grimy mirror. Through the dirt she could barely recognise herself as the girl
she was six years ago. At twenty two, Anna Reardon's future did not look promising. Losing contact with her parents shortly after the moved out of home at sixteen, she was forced to fend for
herself against the cruel and barren world, and the effects were becoming evident.
Her collar bones jaunted out at sharp angles, leading as vector lines to thing and gangly arms. She lifted her shirt briefly to see her concave, white stomach and prominent hip bones. Shaking her head in disgust she carefully surveyed her face. Once a pretty girl, Anna's weight loss had shockingly removed all signs of life from her serious, sour face. Her huge green eyes look empty and cold and her cheeks were sunken and pale. She turned her head this way and that, making her small nose stud glint in the last rays of afternoon light. She needed a haircut. Her long, black hair was nearly at her belly button, and it stank of cigarette smoke and oil paints.
Ever so carefully, Anna curved the outsides of her mouth into a gentle grimace. She was staring at a stranger.
It grew cold and dark as Anna sat in her dingy apartment. Her electricity and gas had been shut off a month ago, but
she hardly noticed. Taking a long draw of her last cigarette, she lit a few stumpy candles and set out a canvas on her easel. Once a prospering young artist, Anna had lost her way in the world.
Sidetracked by drugs and prostitution, her efforts at making a living and reputation began to dwindle.
By the flickering light, she twirled a piece of charcoal between her forefinger and thumb. Gently rubbing it across the canvas, she created a head, over sized. Two curled up arms and legs, tiny thumbs, toes, a body and lastly, a protective barrier around it all.
She worked long into the night, sipping at stone cold coffee and letting her hands go numb, exposed to the icy air.
There is nothing left for me here, she thought. I have nothing to lose.
Ever so gently she reached into one of her pockets and withdrew a folded scrap of paper. She stared long and hard at the name and number, before making up her mind.
Jumping up, she grabbed her bag and purse, opened the door and raced down the stairs of her apartment block, forgetting to lock the door behind her. She rarely did these days, as there was little to steal in her home. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, she dodged Ellen, who woke with a start as she clattered past.
"Oh! Hey Anna." she said, sitting up groggily.
"Hello Ellen." replied Anna, smiling wearily at the drug affected girl.
Barely older than sixteen, she lay in the midst of a trip on the apartment block stairs.
"Lost my keys again." She said, to no one in particular and fell back against the stairs.
Anna hurried on, into the biting wind of outdoor Melbourne. Her feet making indents on the snowy ground. The phone booth had seen better days, as it stood, enclosed by scummy apartments and brothels. She opened the cracked glass door and tumbled inside, looking at her stolen watch, wondering if anyone would answer her call at 2:00 am. It was a relief to be out of the weather and Anna leaned against the side of the glass, her eyes drooping and she fumbled for the piece of paper.
She dialled the number and pushed in the last of her coins into the machine.
"Hello this is Doctor Thompson speaking." A sleepy voice answered.
"Hi..umm Doctor Thompson..This is Anna Reardon, I'm calling about your offer."
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