The Interview

by Dmuk

"So," said the interviewer, fixing the candidate with a steely eye, "you want to work for us?" It was more of an accusation than a question. She was an older woman who didn’t seem capable of smiling, lest her face crack. Looking over the top of a clipboard holding the application, she regarded the young lady on the other side of the wide desk as one might consider a cow-pie at a garden party – with utter contempt. It was a calculated attitude that had served her well. She had signed many a top model to contracts at bargain-basement rates; this one before her now was a pigeon.

The applicant was eager, but a bit hesitant. At first it had seemed like such a keen idea, to try for a job at one of the city’s foremost modeling agencies. Her friends at school had prodded her into it, saying she looked so much like a model already, that it was way easier work than regular jobs, and that she had a free day so why not just go down there. The young girl was starting to regret her brashness. Now this woman was giving her the third degree. She realized at length that an answer was expected - and that she couldn’t escape quite yet. The other’s gaze held her fixed like a deer in the headlights of a car.
An answer...

"Uh, folks say that I’m really pretty sometimes, and I’ve done some plays back in high school. This semester the figure-study class asked me to pose for them. I think I’d like to try being a model..."

"I see, Miss Barnes. This is. . ."


"I beg your pardon?"

"My name is Laurel. The only person that ever called me ‘Miss Barnes’ was my algebra teacher. He was such a prude...

"Very well: Laurel, this is all of the experience you have had? These few occasions?"

"Yes - that’s it. Your ad in the paper said that you were also a modeling school; I thought maybe...?"

"Oh. Yes, that is true but we prefer our girls to have at least some earlier qualifications. And, at least, a portfolio. You know, some photographs."

"What you’re saying is that I’m not beautiful enough for you." Laurel realized this was not going very well. She glanced around at the exquisitely appointed office, the lavish furniture. There were pictures and posters everywhere of the agency’s key models from magazine covers, ad layouts, and TV commercials. Some faces she recognized instantly, others were merely anonymously stunning. Laurel was longing to become a part of this exciting business but had just about convinced herself that she was not worthy of the great honor of a job here. It was a poor attitude to bargain from.

"Not beautiful? I would have to disagree. You do have a certain ‘look’ that is desirable in many situations." The older woman decided this was the time to steer the conversation. In truth the applicant was a very attractive girl with a distinctive face and the sort of willowy, understated figure that appeared to be nothing special in normal clothes but brought double-takes and stares when clad in a swimsuit. In short, an undiscovered potential as a lingerie model.
Or something beyond. An opportunity awaited.

"What sort of situations?" Laurel perked up a bit, and smiled a little. After the browbeating of the past few minutes a scrap of encouragement was like a breath of fresh air.

"Under ‘desired position’ you have checked several areas; hmm. ‘Trade-show’, ‘photo model’, ‘mannequin’, ‘runway model’. Do you know what skills these various specialties entail?"

"Well... not really. I’ve seen movies with models in them and it seemed like it was really easy. At least it looked like it. It’s not?"

"For some positions, rather extensive training is required. For example, our trade show presenters must know the product being demonstrated as well as being able to get along with the visitors to the exhibit. Sometimes that job requires quite a bit of tact and social skill. Similarly, a runway model has to move correctly, effortlessly and be able to look her best at a moment’s notice..."

"Is there anything that I could do right now?" Laurel was grasping at straws.

"Let me see..." The interviewer already knew where she was going with this one; now was the time. "You mentioned ‘mannequin’ as one of your interests. Do you know what kind of position that is?"

"I think... Well, it’s sort of like a high fashion model - isn’t it? Like Linda Evangelista? I guess I’m not sure."

"Not really. The mannequin position we refer to here is a display mannequin.  A stationary figure that models clothes."

"You mean like - like a window dummy?" She wasn’t sure she had understood the woman correctly.

"Exactly. Many of our models have started their careers in this manner and then went on to other jobs in the modeling field."

"I never heard of such a thing!" Laurel was amazed, but intrigued.

"We do not usually publicize this segment of our business. Nevertheless, it is a position that you would be qualified for now. Moreover, the ‘look’ I mentioned also falls into this domain."

"What do you mean?"

"You have a certain - elegance - to your physique. Your face has very clean lines and nicely defined bone structure. Additionally, you are tall and slim. These are all valuable attributes."

"OK, let’s say I decide to try it. What happens then?" She was getting interested - at least it was modeling of a sort. A start...

The older woman realized that Laurel was probably ‘sold’ but continued to pitch the opening. "The agency would prefer to have you sign a conditional display contract; then you would be prepared and costumed for your trial assignment. This would last a limited period of time. If your appearance is acceptable to our clients, then the agency would extend you an offer of full employment. After that, we will monitor your progress and suggest further training or engagements you could participate in as your experience grows." She was really skating on thin ice with that last sentence, but the young girl was not listening much to the details. It was time. Time to close the deal: "Are you interested in this position?"

"Yes, I would like to work for this agency; if that’s the only job you have now, then I’ll go for that."

"You understand what being a mannequin entails?" Time to test her resolve. "You will be immobilized for an extended time and placed in a window. During that period you cannot move in the slightest degree. Your figure may be moved or dressed by others during the period you are immobile. You cannot choose or approve of any garments you will be displaying. If the agency desires, a cast can be made of your posed body to create replica mannequins that may be sold. You will be paid on a monthly basis, along with a royalty for every reproduction. Is this all clear to you?"

"Yeah?" Laurel almost backed out at that moment, but she did not want to lose face with the woman after the offer had been made and accepted. The whole thing sounded so weird, though. She had never heard of this idea before.

"It’s a good thing I’m not ticklish," she shrugged. Her weak attempt at humor went unrecognized.

"When you have been fully immobilized, there is no feeling, no tickling, no awareness at all – it is as if time stands still!" Her strong outburst startled Laura. "Observe Sondra for a moment. Carefully." The woman swept her hand around to indicate a rigid figure posed in a diorama of a photo studio. A female mannequin that looked amazingly real, but at the same time very artificial.

Laurel gasped as she understood. That was what she had agreed to become? "That’s one of your mannequin models?" The older woman only nodded. Laurel sprang from her chair and over to the stiffened girl. She appeared quite young, but was heavily made up and had looked much older from a distance. Close up, Laurel could see that she totally unmoving, like a statue. Her glassy eyes gazed vacantly out into the room; there was no sign that she was even alive. The mannequin wore a clingy Lycra minidress that hugged her curvy form like a coat of paint – even her nipples were discernible through the thin fabric.

"Touch her," the older woman prodded; Laurel jumped at the sharp command, then complied. The texture of the mannequin's skin was nothing like what she had imagined. Sondra’s exterior felt firm, almost hard, to the touch and was cooler than she had thought. It was eerie how totally rigid Sondra’s body was; her stiffened figure swayed slightly after being touched. Like a wooden indian. "Are you sure this job is something you really want to do, Laurel? To become a motionless mannequin? This is precisely how you too will appear once you have been prepared for display."

"Does it hurt?" Laurel blurted, "Can she hear me?"

"Hurt? Not from what I have heard. Most of the models have no complaints whatsoever. As for your second question; once you have been fully arrested you will remain suspended in a kind of limbo until you are re-animated at the final completion of your assignment. All bodily functions and all thoughts are totally at a standstill during the display period. Not exactly asleep, but . . . stopped. Sondra can no more hear you than that rock in the fountain can."

(Standstill – did that include her aging? ) Laurel thought (– was this process like a fountain of youth?) Like most young adults, the first signs of age had caught her unprepared. Unconsciously, this was what ultimately would make up her mind. To the woman she said, "How old is she?"

The interviewer smiled; it was always better if the subjects brought this topic up themselves, it was almost always a clincher. "Sondra was born about the same time as I was," she lied, "but as you can see, she has spent considerably longer as a mannequin." The truth was even stranger.

(Preserved, unchanging,) Laurel thought. The decision was clear: "I’m ready to do it if your agency wants me." She had been manipulated by an expert.

Game, set, and match. The old woman smiled to herself and extracted a multipart form from the desk drawer and filled in Laurel’s name and details from the application. Several other lines she left purposefully blank. "Well, then we are both in agreement – welcome to the agency. Please sign here."

Laurel bent over the document and scribbled her signature to it without bothering to read the many paragraphs. Not that it would have helped. "There." She smiled at her good fortune. She had a job; not quite what she had imagined, but a job. Just wait until her friends heard about this! Laurel could hardly wait to tell them. She wondered what they would think: a mannequin.

"Very well. Please put your affairs in order and return here next Monday. Your trial display will start at that time."

"Monday? That’s not really enough time. I’ve got school, an apartment, friends..."

"Nevertheless, that is what the contact stipulates." For effect, the older woman glanced at the document on the desk. "If you would like, you can terminate the agreement now and have no further obligations to this agency."

"Fooey. Monday will be fine, I guess."

"Excellent! I look forward to seeing you then. Good day." The interview was clearly over, and Laurel collected her things and departed without saying another word.

* * *

Almost a week later, at the appointed time, Laurel appeared at the agency again. This time she was carrying a large canvas tote that was larger than an overnight bag but smaller than a normal suitcase. She seemed happy; cleaning out her life had caused some pain, but she felt better for having done it.

The older woman met her at the reception area and escorted Laurel back to an inner workshop where they met a younger lady who introduced herself as Judy. She was the visual designer in charge of the mannequin models. Like all of the employees Laurel had seen, Judy was stunningly beautiful.

Judy looked over the lithe figure of Laurel and was silently impressed. The front office was hiring the right sort of subjects; this one was almost perfect.

"Hello, Laurel, it is?" A nod. "I see here we have you down for a test period; did Mrs. Jenkins explain everything to you?"

"Yes. I’m going to become a mannequin." She was a little nervous; last night her dreams had included a statue that had spoken to her - a statue that had her own face, etched in alabaster.

"Of course. Now, first go have a long shower and be sure to use lots of cream soap. That will take every hair off your body, so be sure to protect your head and face. Be very thorough. Then come back here."

Almost two hours passed before Laurel returned, looking glowing and clean. She had a big smile on her face like a kid in a candy store. This was all really happening. The wine in the shower room did not hurt her mood any, either.

"Drop the robe, please. Inspection time." Laurel’s smile faded, but she undressed and stood naked in front of Judy while the latter looked over her body very closely. The depilatory lather had done its job and Laurel’s skin was completely smooth. Her complexion was light-colored; another plus. She probably wouldn’t need any body makeup at all.

"Good job. Walk around in a circle on tiptoe for me, out there? " Judy watched as the young girl moved, noting the way her body moved, how the muscles of her legs looked as they stretched out. About a four-inch heel seemed right for her. "OK, you can put the robe back on and sit here. I’m going to do your face."

Laurel did so and almost fell asleep while the meticulous Judy applied base makeup, blusher, eyeliner, mascara, eyebrow pencil, and false lashes to what she considered her ‘canvas.’ Laurel had a very cute pixie face, with a slightly large nose and full lips. Carefully blended lighter makeup narrowed the bridge of her nose; her lips received a pink/peach-hued lipstick followed by a glosser. Judy finished up with a light coating of what smelled like hair spray but was applied all over Laurel’s face, neck, and upper torso. This was protection against any smudging. It dried almost instantly, leaving a slight sheen to her skin. More spray and mousse went into building up her tapered, ‘Hamill cut’ hairstyle. It already was a good choice to frame her face and the firm square jaw line. Now it was fixed solidly in position, glazed like a polyester wig.

"Ready. What do you think?"

Laurel opened her eyes – the lids felt so heavy with the false lashes – and saw a new beauty looking back; herself! She was not ready for how different her appearance was. How the new makeup style enhanced her face, lips, and eyes. "I look like a kewpie doll!!" (My hair is so big...)

"Relax; they all say that. You have to look a bit more theatrical for in the window, people will be looking at you from farther away. It’s not unusual, you’ll get used to it. They all do."

"Are you sure?"

"Haven’t had one complain yet. Are you ready for your costume?"

"I thought someone else would be dressing me. That’s what the other lady said before."

"Mostly that’s true. The first time, you get to do it. But I picked out your outfit though; it’s over in that changing room, along with everything else you need. Oh, take these shoes and put them on too. Be careful now; don’t muss up that gorgeous face I just gave you.

Laurel disappeared into the cubicle and emerged what seemed a long time later clad in a simple white knit pantsuit, high heels, and a silver necklace with matching hoop earrings. She seemed a bit hesitant, unsure of herself, as she walked back to the waiting Judy.

"Pardon me?" Laurel said. Even through the makeup it looked like she was blushing.

"What’s up? You seem all set."

"I don’t know if this is right, but there weren’t any undergarments in the booth, only the pantyhose and the suit. I don’t have anything on underneath. It feels kind of funny; drafty."

"That’s OK. You don’t want to spoil the fall of the cloth with panty lines. Don’t worry about it; all of our mannequins are dressed in the same way. You’re firm enough not to need extra support – trust me. Are you ready?"

"Yes, I think so."

"Last chance to back out. You sure you’re sure?"

"I’m ready." Laurel said.

"All right! For now, stand over on that plate for a minute and I’ll get ready. Judy indicated a glass base about eighteen inches square. The kind display mannequins were mounted upon. The kind that Laurel would soon be affixed to for her new career. She took her position and tried not to slip on the smooth surface. She had never worn heels this high before and every now and then she would stumble slightly. Finally she reached a reasonably comfortable position. She noticed that there were several sets of overhead lights shining down on her; window lighting. (I guess it’s time to get used to those.)

Judy watched again as the girl moved; she could see her choices of clothes and footwear were correct. "Laurel, take your right shoe off; I want to insert the support plate now."

"OK. The what?"

"To keep your immobilized body stable we have you stand on a small plate that’s anchored to the base. You may have noticed that both shoes have holes bored in them; that’s where this goes." She inserted the support, which looked like an insole-shaped piece of metal attached to a stubby rod, into the shoe then affixed them both to a chrome socket on the glass base. Finally, she dabbed the surface of the sole plate with what looked like rubber cement. "Quick, now, put your foot back in the shoe and take a pose on the glass. I’ll help you in a sec..."

"Oohh, that feels icky," Laurel exclaimed as her instep squished into the glue. She realized that she was going to be part of that plate, not just standing on it. Already her one foot was stuck in position, limiting her activity.

"That’s nothing. A couple of years back you would have been fitted for a butt plug and have the support rod shoved up your ass! You’re getting off easy."

"You must be kidding," Laurel said. The other’s silence told her it was true.

Judy meanwhile was arranging two tall, semicircular pieces of what looked like Plexiglas, setting them upright so they completely enclosed Laurel as she stood on the glass plate. In a way it already looked a bit like she was in a display window or compartment. Thick wires led off to a humming box on the floor that would create the immobilizing field around the subject inside. Judy held a remote control and fiddled with some of the myriad buttons and lights the gadget possessed. At length it was set. Finally she glanced up at the nervous, expectant Laurel. The girl really looked like a natural for display work; the tight-fitting pantsuit had draped beautifully on her slim figure; especially at the shoulders and flared hips.

"You’re about to become a mannequin, Laurel, so you have to pose yourself like one. First, hitch up that belt a little. One thing to remember; never leave your clothes too loose. On display, your figure is going to give the garment shape – your shape – making it look sexy so that people will buy it. You’re a perfect mannequin type; it’s one of the reasons you were picked, so let that nice figure show though. Raise your free leg up a bit and point the toe, like you’re about to take a step – that’s perfect – keep your weight on the back leg, over the support. Pull your shoulders back a little to emphasize your chest and waist. Arch your back, and try to push your backside out." Laurel’s derriere was firm and well rounded, giving the slacks a pleasing contour. "Great. Hold your arms clear of your torso and do a ‘fan’ with your hands. Pretend you’re holding a Japanese bamboo fan – like this..."

Judy demonstrated the graceful sweep of fingers with the forefinger pointed out that was a trademark position of display mannequins. Laurel followed her instructions carefully, too wrapped up in the stream of suggestions for any last-minute worries. The pose she was being guided into was uncomfortable to maintain, but she knew she wouldn’t have to hold it for long. Consciously, that is...

Laurel already felt a bit strange and wondered if Judy had activated the device. Judy’s voice sounded odd as it echoed in the cylinder and the reflections of her soon-to-be-mannequinized self seemed oddly formal. Stilted. Second thoughts flitted through her head. (Do I really want to do this...?)

Judy saw the look of indecision too and decided to distract the younger girl with the next posing cue. "Now, Laurel, I want you to touch your breasts lightly, strokethem for a few moments. That will perk up your nips a little bit."

"Uhh," Laurel was certainly distracted; she blushed again.

"Oh, come on! I’m sure this isn’t the first time – you’re among friends here..."

Without another word, Laurel moved her hands to her chest and started to rub herself slowly. She closed her eyes to focus her memories of recent lovemaking. A hint of a smile played across her wide, glossy lips as the fantasy played on. Judy realized Laurel was getting a little too into the spirit of the moment; any further and she might dampen those crisp slacks of hers. It was time to do her.

"Back to Earth, Laurel, that’s just fine..." If her nipples were any harder she would poke holes in the fabric. "OK, now smile! Your face and body is going to be seen by a lot of people soon; let them know you’re enjoying this outfit you’re displaying. A bit wider smile? Great - take a deep breath and hold it there. Super. Ready?" Without waiting for an answer, Judy twisted the dial on the ‘remote’ and the hum intensified momentarily, then dropped back as before. For an instant, the air inside the cylinder looked cloudy, roiling, before clearing. So brief it seemed like an illusion. It was not.

Inside the Plexiglas screen, Laurel was surprised by the sound and the effect of the device. In truth she was still thinking about her daydream. For a moment she forgot her instructions and her smile shifted into a look of awe. Before she could correct it she felt a slight tingle and realized she could not move a muscle. It was as if the very air around her had turned hard as crystal and she had become embedded in it like a fly in amber. She became acutely aware of the position of her body and what her eyes could see because they were locked solidly in place. Glassily, she gazed at Judy, unable to utter a word. Even her tongue was stopped in mid-exclamation, lips parted.

To Judy, Laurel was transformed: She was frozen, stock-still in her tracks. There was no longer any apparent movement. Her eyes did not blink, her fingers did not budge. Her expression did not change one iota. Suddenly she appeared wooden, artificial, a living doll. A careful eye would have noticed a slight rising and falling of her chest. This was the first stage of the process.

Judy moved one of the half-cylinders slightly aside and approached the motionless girl while continuing to talk to her. "Right now, Laurel, you are held in position by the field, but not fully immobilized yet. Don’t worry, I won’t forget and leave you like this!!" (Unless someone twirls that dial again, she thought, then we’ll both be mannequins!) "Let me tune your pose up a little bit, huh? You look pretty good just as you are though." Judy made subtle changes to the position of the almost- mannequin’s feet and arms. Laurel’s hands had slipped out of position during her brief self-stimulation so Judy posed them back as best she could. Laurel’s partially stiffened body was quite difficult to move. She tipped up Laurel’s head to emphasize her neck line and gave it a bit of an angle. Her practiced eye eventually saw what she wanted in the posed figure. This one was going to be special. More like a motionless model than a dummy.

Laurel remained conscious throughout the posing, though of course she could not move the slightest bit. In a way, that made it easier since she did not have to hold herself in position; she was stiff as a board. For a few seconds she had a brief pang of fear when the feeling of rigidity started to take affect her and she realized that she could not move her arms or legs no matter how much she tried to. She had tried to say something and realized her voice was immobilized too.

This was different than when she posed for the art class; there it took a lot of concentration not to move while trying not to think of all the students that were looking at her. Laurel was rather shy-natured and exposing herself to a roomful of horny guys was difficult at first and became easier with practice. She hadn’t known it at the time, but that was sort of a ‘dry run’ for being a display figure. Now, staying still was effortless; all her focused energy could not so much as twitch one eyelash though she could feel and hear everything. (This is a really strange experience; not everyone can become a mannequin) she thought.

"Ready, Laurel, I’m going to solidify you completely now. After a couple of seconds, you’ll go into limbo; time will seem to stop for you. When you are revived, things are going to blip around to you. It might be night instead of day and the furniture will probably have been moved. That’s normal – sort of an interesting way to skip a whole lot of boring days in a window. At least I always thought it was. Bye for now; see you on the other side."

Laurel had barely enough time to realize this was it; her last sentient thought was: (what will have changed when I wake u...) Then, as Judy pressed the red button on the device and it emitted loud electric ‘ssnap’ sound. She saw one fleeting image of herself as a marble statue – her body; her entire being was instantly, utterly dense and solid. As if turned to stone. Then, nothingness.

As the echoes faded, she looked up to see that Laurel was now totally stiff and inert as she had expected. There was no longer any breathing or other sign that she had ever been a living girl; now she was a rigidly posed, gorgeous statue. Her earnest expression had changed somehow, leaving her with an almost surprised but bemused look on her frozen features. It was almost enough of a flaw to unfreeze her for, if she could have been unfrozen, but the deed was done. This newest figure looked a little different, that’s all. Not bad; in fact, Laurel made a very striking mannequin.

Judy heard the door open, Marge Jenkins must have heard the sound and now was eyeing the latest statue with more than a little desire. "Such a lovely girl; she reminds me of my own daughter in a way..." She caressed the mannequin’s hardened skin and looked almost ready to kiss the rigid lips.

"Yes, she is the best one yet," Judy intoned, completing the ritual. Mrs.J said this about every girl they had turned into a mannequin. It had started with Sondra, and the accident that created the very first perfect mannequin from an eager young model. Eager to follow in her mother’s footsteps, she was.

The older woman came back to reality and asked, "Have you taken her promo shots yet? If not, I can help you move her around..."

"Sure, thanks." Together they brought over the hand truck, slipped the tongue under the display base, and tipped the figure of Laurel onto it. She was stiff and rigid, gazing into the lights as she was being moved. Deposited onto a sward of background paper, she stood before a professional camera for the first time but would never know. The strobes pulsed as Judy took several frames, pausing to rotate the figure so different angles could be photographed easily.

"Is it time for the nude series now?" Mrs. Jenkins had stayed in the studio, quiet, expectant. This, too, was not unusual.

"Uh, huh. Could you give me a hand?" Judy could have done this all by herself, but Mrs.J was the boss lady and was granted her indulgences. Judy hung back and let the older woman do most of the undressing of the new figure.

Laurel, or rather the mannequin that had been Laurel, proved to have an excellent physique as her body was gradually exposed. First her mounded breasts, firm even before they had been solidified, with their perky nipples. Then her slim torso and waist, with its well-defined muscles across her flat abdomen. There was a short delay while she worked the sleeves of the tunic off her rigid arms and removed the slacks partially. It was clear that Laurel had very nice legs.

"I’ll lift her up for a short while, go ahead and remove the trousers," the older woman suggested. Judy just nodded and did her part as the naked mannequin was hugged and raised off the display base. Working quickly, she pulled the slacks completely off, then removed the shoes and stripped the pantyhose down. It took a few seconds to tear the hose from around the foot-support plate and check that the glue had set up. Everything was just fine.

"Are you ready for me to set her down yet?" The mannequinized Laurel weighed no less that the living one had, modest as that was, and she was starting to get heavy while being held.

"OK, slowly though, ease her on down..." Judy was guiding the support rod back into the socket. Even without shoes, the figure would be held upright. "Now, tip her vertical." The rod seated with a ‘clunk’ and the older woman moved back. The free-standing figure oscillated slightly for the better part of a minute while Judy readied her camera again and Mrs. Jenkins straightened her clothing and caught her breath.

Judy quickly brushed any lint of threads from Laurel’s body and then sprayed her from the torso on down with the same sealing solution she had used earlier on her face and hands. Now shining silkily all over, her transformation into a display mannequin was finally accomplished. The result was exquisite...

Completely naked, Laurel was every bit as striking as Judy had expected her to be. If she had not become a mannequin, she might have one day posed for a sculptor – her figure was that well-defined and curvaceous. Definitely a swim-suit model! Judy repeated the photo series, adding a few more frames of the rear view and back quarters. She finished up with several angles on Laurel’s cute face. The frozen expression really did seem like she was very happy.

As Judy finished her photos, the older woman came up close to Laurel and this time did kiss her briefly full on the lips while caressing her stiffened figure. Judy did her best to stay interested in threading new film into the camera.

Suddenly, the intimate interlude was over; now Business came first once more. "Judy, call up Fontana’s and tell them we have a new display figure for them. Ask Gregori to put her into the front window and have a good look at her. You didn’t tell her how long the trial period was for, did you?"

"No, and it always bothers me not to." Judy looked at the mannequinized girl Laurel, posed calmly in the pool of multicolored lights, affixedsolidly to her glass display base. Changed into a static art form before she had realized the implications of her hasty decision. "Five years is a long time to be frozen, Marge. I’ll probably be elsewhere; you too. Someone will have a lot to explain to this young lady, someday. Maybe."

"Assuming Fontana’s accepts her, there is no reason not to leave her there on extended trial, either. Certainly Sondra is not going to object, nor any of the others. They’ll stay as statues. That contract is airtight, even if any mannequinized model ever became animated enough to question it. I think Miss Laurel Barnes here has found a long-term career, don’t you think?"

Judy said nothing; this part of the business never was to her liking. So she kept her thoughts blind to what happened to the models and just tried to make them as lovely as she could before they were permanently frozen solid into display mannequins.

"Do you want to take a cast of her now?" Judy asked, "I have the feeling she is going to be very much in demand."

"Later; there will be plenty of time, later. I want to see her on display first."

Judy moved a long shipping crate over nearby the rigid figure of Laurel and stood it upright. Inside was a soft cushion of plastic foam to keep the completed mannequin from damage. With a slight effort, she lifted the stiff girl and placed her inside. Laurel stared woodenly up from her bed of padding, rigid arms seeming to reach out, almost as if trying to escape? The glass plate fitted into a pocket in the box and was similarly padded. The close-fitting lid had a molded pad which nestled down and supported the figure inside. The padding crunched down as Judy secured the latches.

Laurel was ready for shipment to her first (and last) modeling assignment.
As a perfectly lifelike window mannequin. . .

* * *

Some months or years later, I chanced to come upon the lovely figure of Laurel, still posed as she was that first day in the front window of the boutique which had been Fontana’s. The neighborhood had changed; the buildings were a lot grungier, but she remained as gorgeous as the day she first stepped onto her display base. As luck would have it, she was again dressed in a pant-suit that showed off her excellent figure. Laurel remains an amazing mannequin...

This has been her story.

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