Jara looked at herself in the mirror, contemplating her curves, acknowledging her beauty. She touched up her eyebrows and slipped into her heels and walked the 8 blocks to her job, brushing by distant strangers rushing to their destinations. The sounds of the city street, a world immutable in its reality, untouchable in its concreteness. Men who hadn’t bathed in months curled into darkened entryways, pigeons stepping blithely out of footsteps with their heads penduluming and mindless. The smell of grease and tar and eggs and somewhere too the ocean in the breeze, and the trees in their square enclosures, all mixed into something indefinable and filled with some kind of ache and loneliness and excitement. Anything could happen, but you kind of knew that it wouldn’t; and even if it did, somehow it would be just like something that had already happened before.
Jara opened the door, catching the sun streaking across its mirrored glaze, and stepped into the air-conditioned lobby, into another sense of manufactured space and scent, a world created to address the chaos outside, an answer to its immutability. Here in this corporate structure the world was exactly as it had created itself according to a law that subsumed and consumed humanity. Nothing mattered, nothing was of value except as it pertained to money, to money that grew endlessly. The people within reflected this demand and were judged accordingly. How expensive the shoe, how much the gym, how big the ego, how connected the family.
But sexuality was acknowledged, albeit grudgingly, to have a force and power which of course was linked also, somehow, to money. A women’s genetic traits as symbols of the fruits of money. All of this available only to the highest bidder. Jara knew how to use what she was God given to play to these moneyed mentalities. They thought that they could have anything they wanted. Let them think that. And then give them nothing.
She flirted, she made loud jokes, she went out drinking. She would let them buy her dinner. But this was where she stopped. She knew that her limited power could only be wielded through the subtlety of suggestion. To allow anyone to fulfill their fantasy of ownership would be to lose all of that power. She would become just another thing, another product, another backroom story. For now, she was unattainable, and thus desirable, and thus powerful.
But people always attempted, of course, to bring her down in other ways. Insinuations about her ethnic heritage, snide comments about her upbringing. But she knew that with these things, too, the greatest weapon was her indifference and mystery. She had made the mistake at first of telling stories about her childhood, before she learned the hard way that anything that she said that was true would be used against her. Now she kept her true self and history hidden from these people. She would talk about current events, the weather, fashion, arts, food. Anything but about herself.
Distant, cold, mysterious, well-attired and full-figured. They all wanted her. They all wanted to tear her down into a powerless, sexed, insecure mess. They wanted her to act like something that they could buy. Something they could use and throw away and forget about in their quest for something else they could never have.