First Page: Second Hand Jane
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“Oi nice slippers love!” A broad Dublin twang shouted down from the heavens.
A lack of privacy was the downside of apartment living, Jess thought as her gaze shot upwards to scan the myriad of windows overlooking the courtyard. She was rewarded by the sight of a lad with a crew cut who looked far too young to be the proud owner of such a bulbous drinker’s nose. His purpose judging by the plume of smoke he had just exhaled through his nostrils, for hanging out the window on a Saturday morning was not to spy on other residents but to have a sly smoke.
Having been there and done that Jess shrugged. Each to their own was her motto because she, better than most knew what it felt like to always have someone else sticking their ten cents worth in. As her mother’s face floated before her she gave Puff the Magic Dragon a little curtsey and got an excited wolf-whistle in return before opening the door to her block and disappearing inside.
It was true she mused as she waited for the lift, that along with a sagging bottom and boobs, age almost as though it were compensation bought confidence. There was a time when she would have blushed a shade of beetroot upon being whistled at like that. That was back in the days when men were still allowed to down tools on building sites in order to harass the young women hurrying past. Funny too how when you were a nubile, barely post teen strutting your stuff around Auckland’s CBD, you took those whistles for granted – almost as your due and then when you reached a certain age you became pathetically grateful for them.
Jess knew that before the morning was out she’d be texting her best pals with the exciting news that she had received a wolf whistle and…wait for it… she was wearing her elephant suit as her friends liked to refer to her Penney’s tracksuit ensemble.
Her apartment was housed on the second floor of the Sandbank Wing of the Riverside complex. Although she often joked that by the state of the Liffey when the tide were out perhaps the ‘Smelly Mud Flat Apartments’ or ‘Abandoned Shopping Trolleys Apartments’ might have been more apt names. Being on the second floor was something that made her feel happier when she spied the diehard smokers like ole randy, big nose boy – her reasoning being that if there was a fire at least she had the option of jumping.
This cheery trail of thought was interrupted as the lift door opened and disgorged Gemma from across the hall. She looked to be a woman on a mission judging by the water bottle in hand and the amount of skin-tight black spandex on display.
“Morning Jess!” Chirruped the svelte red-head with the bouncy pony-tail and perky everything else. “Glad to see you’re up and at it.” She gave Jess’s track pants and slippers the once over. “Well kind of anyway.”
“We can’t all be gym bunnies like you Gem. Besides you’ll do yourself an injury on that cross-trainer one of these days. Just you mark my words.” Pushing past her, she stepped inside the lift, “Besides my old bones have a good ten years on yours.”
Gemma laughed, “Listen to you – you sound like my Gran and she at least does Aqua-Aerobics twice a week! You really should come with me you know.” She winked conspiratorially, “There’s lots of hotties there.”
“Yeah-yeah I’ll think about it.” Jess muttered hitting number two. She had no intention of breaking the golden rule by which she lived her life. No man would ever see her in spandex nor would she get hot and sweaty in front of the opposite sex unless there was something fun in it for her!
“You’ve been saying that since Easter and we’re into September already so why don’t you put your money where…” Gemma’s voice trailed off as the doors slid shut in her face.
Gemma was right she supposed. She did sound like a Granny even though she had only just turned thirty-four which in this day and age of forty being the new thirty meant that technically she was twenty-four. Cheering up at that thought, Jess let herself into her apartment.