“I’m so nervous,” the model said.
“Seriously?” asked the make-up artist. “You’ve done this countless times. How is this show any different from the others?” She brushed his face lightly with powder and examined him from another angle.
“She’s in the audience,” the model said.
“Who’s in the audience?” the make-up artist said.
“The girl I told you about.”
“Which girl? Oh, the girl. She’s here? What she doing here?”
“She writes for a magazine. I can’t concentrate. I might fall off the stage.”
The make-up artist laughed. “You certainly will unless you relax and keep your focus.”
“I feel like I’m in a foxhole. This is a life and death situation for me.”
“You are over-acting.”
“I’m serious. Her good opinion is the only thing that matters for me. If she will throw me a disapproving look, it will be my death.”
“What on earth are you saying?”
“I’m saying I can’t face her if I’m not ready.”
“What’s wrong with you? You are ready.”
“I’m not. Have you read The Picture of Dorian Gray? When I met her, I felt like I was Dorian Gray. We were just standing there in the middle of that party with her friends. She didn’t say much, but each time she looked at me, I felt like I was Dorian Gray.”
“Are you okay?”
“I need to see a priest.”
“What? Have you been drinking?”
“How much time do I have left?”
“An hour, more or less. Why?”
“Where’s the nearest church?”
“St. Augustine’s Chapel two blocks down the road. Are you crazy?”
“Be back shortly.”
The model ran out of the mall and hurried down the street. The noon-day sun bore down on him and the soot from the cars, trucks, and jeepneys stuck in traffic dirtied his skin.
He was back inside the mall a quarter of an hour later, panting, drenched in sweat, his eyes red, his clothes tousled, and his hair disheveled.
The make-up artist stared at him in horror. “You are out of your mind. It’s your turn but there’s no way you’re going out there like this. I’ll tell the organizer you’re sick.”
“No,” the model said. “I’m okay. I got this.”
He climbed up behind the stage and immediately stepped onto the catwalk. He looked wild and scruffy. He surveyed the crowd and ascertained the girl’s location. He saw her sitting on the left side of the platform but the flashes of the cameras prevented him from making out her expression. He took a deep breath, smiled, and started walking.