Thursday, November 13, 2008

Mail Order Bride, Chapter 6, Christine, Mother-Daughter Rivalry

Christine, mother-daughter rivalry

“Look at you, Isabella, you are such a wreck,” Imelda told Isabella.

“Imelda, I am so miserable.”

“I know just what you need. When did you last have your confession heard?”

“I am so ashamed, I have not gone to church since I was sixteen.”

“Now I know why you have so much trouble.”

Imelda took Isabella to St. Joseph Church, her Roman Catholic Church at Great North Road in Grey Lynn. She wanted Isabella to have her confession heard and get a phial of Holy Water to sprinkle all over the house to get rid of the evil spirits that had plagued Isabella.

“Father Stephen, my friend Isabella needs to have her confession urgently.”

It was not the scheduled time for confessions to be heard. Father Stephen understood that this was important and made an exception.

“Father, I have sinned, it been a long time since I had a confession……..”
Isabella did not dare tell the priest that she was harboring many terrible secrets of murder, infidelity and cheating. She lied in her confession that she had not been attending church, going to confession and receiving Holy Communion since she arrived in New Zealand. She gave a small donation to the church and promised to come to church again.

When Isabella’s crying and sobbing quiet down to ostentatious sniffs and gasps, Imelda told her to kneel down and say her Penance. Father Stephen gave her three “Our Fathers,” ten “Hail Marys” and one “I believe in God”. Isabella had not said any prayers since she was sixteen, the year she left her village to Manila. She found it a struggle to remember all the words of the prayers. When she eventually finished saying them, she got up, wiped her tears and kissed Imelda. She felt she was freed of the clutch of any tentacles of guilt.

With Jamie out of her house and out of her life, Isabella felt much better. It seemed that the confession and the sprinkling of Holy Water had exorcised the ghosts in her head. Because of the warning by Wendy that her DPB could be taken away from her, and the money from Gilbert had dried up, Isabella was careful with her money. She couldn’t risk another mistake in taking another punk like Jamie: she would end up with nothing. The meddling Jericho was always next door poking his unwanted nose into her business. She was also mentally and physically too tired and drained to have another man in the house, especially when he was just making use of her physically and financially. Now she was too tired and too poor to have a toy boy. Isabella tried hard to forget her humiliating love affair with a young punk half her age, but it wasn’t easy.

Isabella’s relationship with Christine was improving slowly now that Jamie was out of her house. Christine began talking to her for once instead of shouting. Christine was still not calling her mum. At least she wasn’t in the garden so much talking to Jericho, telling him everything that had happened in school, and asking Jericho for help when she got stuck in her homework. Come to think of it, Jericho wasn’t too bad as a grandfather. Sometimes, he could be a handy and free of charge baby sitter.

When Christine turned eleven, the next year she went to Balmoral Intermediate School. Every morning, Isabella drove her to school. Then she parked her car along Balmoral Road and sat on a bench at Potter’s park. She whiled the morning away, feeding the pigeons with a bun. Sometimes she talked to the young mothers with their children who came to play in the playground, or on their way to the Plunket baby rooms. Sometimes she walked across the road and browsed at The Warehouse. She walked up Dominion Road to the Salvation Army Opportunity shop. The ladies were very friendly but she had nothing in common with them. She read a sign, “Feeling lonely, need someone to talk to, come for cup of tea.” But she didn’t have the courage to join up.

St Lukes Square was her favourite haunt. The mall was very big and there were many shops. She didn’t like window shopping as she didn’t have money and the temptation of the shop items and “For sale” signs only made her more miserable. Sometimes she caught a movie, but that was no fun. Sitting by herself in the almost empty cinema made her more lonely. It reminded her of the many times she sat snuggled into Jamie when they watch movies when they were together. It made her more lonely. Isabella was frequented Curzola, an Italian food court stall nursing a cup of cappuccino and reading a magazine borrowed from the Mount Albert Public Library or one she just had bought from Whitcoulls or Paper Plus Stationery stores. She was there so often that the cleaners joked that Isabella was part of St Luke’s furniture. The cleaners were friendly: most of them were Polynesian women working part time. They had a big family to care for.

“You are a very lucky girl, Isabella, you don’t need to work and sit the whole day having a cup of cappuccino.”

She lied to the ladies, “My husband is working overseas.”

Western Springs was always the place where she could sit down and enjoy the beautiful park. She loved the gaggling black swans and the quacking ducks. The swans, sea gulls, sparrows, pokekos and the ducks came to her for her bread crumbs. She marveled how the fish and the eels swam in the lake without worrying about human predators. Isabella thought to herself if it was in the Philippines, these feather birds and the eels would be gone. Sometimes she walked at the edge of the park adjoining the zoo and to hear the elephants trumpet and lions roar. She didn’t have the money to pay for the admission fees to enter the zoo.

Occasionally she felt amused when little old Pakeha women come up to ask her if she spoke English. If Isabella was in the right mood, she would talk to them and tell them about the poverty in Philippines. If Isabella was in a foul mood, she would say, “Sollee, no speechie Englise,” and the old ladies would walk away wondering what had got into the Asian woman when they were only trying to be friendly.

Some times she would stand outside MOTAT (Museum Of Transport and Technology) and observe a wedding at the little old Chapel of the Good Shepherd. Isabella had a pang of emotion wishing that she was married in a church instead of the registry. She imagined herself dressed in a white wedding gown, with flower girls and page boys walking down the aisles to marry her knight in shining armor. Then it was always the same, she would walk and walk, and her groom would vaporize in the thin air.

Isabella wished she could have a job, but that would compromise her getting the DPB. Isabella decided to make up with Christine and hope for a real mother daughter relationship, after all Christine was her birth daughter though she could not admit it publicly. Isabella was determined to make it work. She had to make a lot of sacrifices, no more boy friends, for one. Christine hated the men who made gestures of being friendly.

“Christine, I have never taken you any where to do fun things, I like to make it up to you. Where would you like to go?”

“Rainbow’s End, I’d like to learn ice skating at Avondale, I’d like to shop at Dress-Smart in Onehunga, I like to go horse riding at Sonshine Ranch, I’d like to go to Aotea Square Markets, to see the fish at Kelly Tarton Under-Water world, the butteries at the Butterfly House near the Auckland airport.”

“Yes, sweet heart, I will take you to all these places.”

Christine wanted to bring two friends, Isabella was reluctant. But she knew Christine would kick a fuss if she said no.

“Okay, they may come, but they have to pay for themselves.”

“You are so mean, when I go out with their parents, they always pay for me.”

Isabella knew she had no choice but to say, “Okay.”

“Katie, Jan, this is my ADOPTED mum, Izzy.”

Isabella drove south to Manukau city and then to Rainbow’s End. The three girls raced off to all the fun rides. Isabella found a little bench and sat by herself. She felt too old to ride in the monstrous rides and hated Christine for going off with her friends.

The next week, it was Avondale ice skating. Christine insisted on bringing along Katie and Jan. Isabella felt resentful: she even had to pay for them.

But Christine was adamant, “No Katie, No Jan, No go.”

Isabella went to the counter, rented a pair of ice skates and was determined to join in the fun, but at fifty, it was hard to keep her balance. She wasn’t a slim agile woman, and after a few falls and a wet butt, she threw in the towel and resigned herself to watch the three girls. Christine, Katie and Jan quickly learnt the sport, and were skating skillfully. Christine announced that they were going to skate every Saturday. Isabella said ok, but only if the two girls would pay for them selves.

Every Saturday morning, the three girls skated, Isabella became their chauffer and babysitter and caterer. After skating, and lunch at McDonalds, the girls spent the whole afternoon in Isabella’s house. Christine was happy, Isabella was not.

One Sunday Isabella suggested to Christine, “Christine, you wanted to go shopping, didn’t you, let us go to Dress-Smart at Onehunga,”

“That will be great, can Jan and Katie come?”

“No, it is just you and me, mum and daughter time,” Isabella did not want to pay for their shopping.

“Okay,” Christine said reluctantly.

They drove off to Onehunga where there was plenty of parking. They enjoyed the many factory outlet stores. There were so many things to buy, it was a shopper’s paradise. Christine wanted to shop and shop till she dropped. She wanted all the branded goods like Esprit, Nike and Adidas. Isabella was juggling so many shopping bags that she told Christine that she had to stop.

“Why, you suggested we come here, and the reason we came here is to shop isn’t it?”

“But you can’t buy everything you see, I can’t afford it.”

“I am rich, Gilbert gave me lots of money,”

“You can’t touch that money until you are eighteen.”

“But you are my trustee, aren’t you? You can draw my money?”

“No I can’t, it doesn’t work that way and also there isn’t very much money.”

“Then you just lend me the money and I pay it back with Gilbert’s money.”

The discussion turned quite heated. Isabella tried her best not to make a scene. There was a quaver in her voice.

Christine said something she didn’t expect, “Don’t forget, all the DPB money is mine. You would get nothing if you haven’t got me, you won’t even be a solo mother. You are an unfit mother.” Then she proceeded to ignore Isabella and continued to buy things she didn’t even need.

Isabella felt she couldn’t breathe in the fuggy overheated atmosphere. She had palpitations in her chest.

“Christine, I badly need a drink of water, here’s fifty dollars, go and shop yourself. I will sit down in that little coffee bar.”

Isabella’s voice faltered and she had muffled sobs and her eyes began to water. Her legs felt like jelly. Everything had gone wrong: Christine was deliberately out to give her a miserable time, out to punish her for refusing to let her friends join them. She started to shake so much that she spilled the glass of water.

“Are you alright?” asked the nice lady sitting at the next table.

“Yes, I am, just the nerves,” replied Isabella.

Christine took her sweet time shopping and spending all the money Isabella had given her. It wasn’t Christmas but Christine shopped as though it was. Isabella drove home quietly.

“That was fun, Mum, can we do it again?”

Isabella pretended not to hear.

“I SAID THAT WAS FUN, DID YOU HEAR ME!!!!!” yelled Christine.

“Yes, I did, I have a nasty headache.”

Christine wanted to go horse riding. Isabella took her to Sonshine Ranch at Papakura. It was expensive at $30 per person for a one hour trek, but Isabella wanted to please Christine. Though she was afraid of the horse and its height, she got on the horse since she promised Christine that it was their mother daughter thing. As they rode over farm-land and along native bush trails, Christine was very confident and happy. Isabella was afraid and looking down at the steep slope, she fell off the horse and landed on her bum. Isabella was very sore for many days and did not want to go horse riding again because of her bad experience and because it cost so much. But Christine kept nagging, soon this became an issue of contention because Christine wanted to take up horse riding as a hobby.

One afternoon after school, Christine got off the phone after talking for an hour.

“Izzy, Keita got a dog, I want a dog.”

“Christine, we can’t have a dog, a dog is a lot of responsibility and needs a lot of care.”

“I can take care of it, I promise.”

They went off to the pet shop and Christine fell in love with a poodle. But when Isabella found that it cost so much to buy and to maintain, she told Christine that she couldn’t afford a poodle. She bribed Christine fifty dollars as pocket money if she would agree to go to the SPCA and adopt a dog from there. In retaliation Christine chose a big cross breed of a Golden Retriever and a German Shepherd. Isabella tried to persuade her to get a smaller dog but to no avail. Isabella did not know she had to fork out so much for the vaccination, spaying and the license fee.

When they got home, they fought again,

“The dog has to stay outside.”


“In the Philippines, dogs do not come inside the house.”

“This is New Zealand, not Philippines,” Of course Christine won, she always won. It was her dog, and she could do anything she wanted.

Initially Christine came home from school and the first thing she did was to walk the dog. Because she was little, and the dog was big, she couldn’t control the dog which she had called Lucky. Lucky would run away and snarl at other dogs.

One day, Lucky bit a stranger’s dachshund and the furious owner followed Christine home. He demanded five hundred dollars vet’s fee and compensation for the trauma to his little toy dog, otherwise he would report Isabella. Isabella quietly agreed to avoid trouble with the dog pound and went to draw money from the ATM machine. The owner muttered in disgust that she was lucky he didn’t report them.

Christine soon got tired of Lucky the dog, and Lucky would whimper and bark. The neighbors came to complain that the dog barked too much, and poor Isabella got sick and tired of telling Christine to walk the dog. So most of the time it was Isabella who had to walk the dog. If she didn’t, the dog was kept inside the house the whole day.

Jericho came to Isabella, “You are so cruel to Lucky. I can report you to the SPCA for animal abuse.”

Eventually, she had to go to SPCA and plea to them to take the dog back.

“Pleasee, so sollee can’t have dog.”

“What’s the matter?”

“Dog barking too much and so very loud. Neighbors complaining that I dog abuser. I no understand. In Philippines, people no complain other people dog, I no husband,” Isabella deliberately spoke in broken English and in more accentuated Tagolog accent to that the officer would have pity on her.

The SPCA officer took pity on this poor Asian woman who didn’t understand the New Zealand way of life, one couldn’t just come for a dog one day, and then give it back the next.

Christine became wayward and the queen of the house. Christine chose where they went in the weekends and who she invited to go with. There was Nina from Samoa, Shanti an Indian immigrant girl, Keita, a Maori girl, and her two old Pakeha friends Jan and Katie. Christina became very popular because she was famous for her generosity. Everyone wanted to be her best friend. Christine’s adopted mother was fun too, she always drove them to fun places, and paid for everything.

Christine wanted to learn to play the piano. Isabella had reservations about the cost of the lessons and the piano. But to placate Christine, she enrolled her with the NZ Modern School of Music which was twenty kilometers drive away at Te Atatu Peninsula. Isabella shopped around for a used piano. She was at the receiving end of Christine’s incessant complaints that all her friends got brand new pianos. After a few months, Christine told her that Jan’s mum was driving Jan and it would make sense for Christine to hitch a ride from Jan’s mum. After a few months, Isabella stopped reminding Christine to practice her piano lessons. Christine showed no obvious interest in the piano lessons and she had not touched the piano. Christine asked for money for her practical and theory examinations. Isabella suggested that she practice twenty minutes a day, which of course fell on deaf ears. A few months had passed when Isabella asked Christine her examinations result. Christine broke into an outburst.

“We Kiwis learn the piano for interest and for enjoyment, not like you Asians struggling to get all those useless paper diplomas.”

It was then that it dawned on Isabella that Christine had hoodwinked her, and she had been pocketing the fees and been playing truant with Jan. She felt really stupid that she had been too trusting but she was too timid to place an ultimatum on Christine: to get her practice playing the piano. Every time Isabella looked at the piano at the lounge, she thought of all the money she wasted in buying the piano. She could not sell the damn thing because Christine had warned that she still wanted to play it when she was in the mood.

Christine and her girlfriends were watching ballet on TV.

“Wow it be fantastic to dance like that?”

“Izzy, I want to have ballet lessons,” She did a pirouette and pointed her toes towards Isabella and held her fingers towards the ceiling.

Isabella knew it was going to be a futile exercise, but she knew it would be a screaming scenario if she said no. So they drove west to the Royal Academy of Dance in New Lynn for Christine to enroll for her ballet classes. Christine bought the whole shebang of ballet paraphernalia: pink tutu, pink Classic Pointe Shoes, black and red leg warmers, blue tights. After a few weeks, Christine lost her interest in going to the ballet lessens.

“It’s boring, can you imagine me a ten year old dancing with babies? The dance instructor would not let me wear my tutu and insisted that I wear an ugly leotard. All we do are holding on to the bar and do stretches and wave our hands and legs about. I never got to do a pirouette. The instructor is a nasty old maid who wouldn’t let me wear my Classic Pointe shoes. She told me, either I listen to her or I quit. Anyway, who wants to do such an old fashioned dance!”

One day during the holidays, Isabella heard from her friends that the Village Cinema was offering a child’s fare for adults accompanying a child to watch “Finding Nemo.” She woke Christine at 10.30am.

“Would you like to watch “Finding Nemo”?

“Yes, I would.”

“Then wake up, have breakfast and get ready for the 11.20am show?”

“What’s the hurry? Why can’t we go another day?

“Today, there is a special offer.”

“So that’s why you are so generous?”

“Please, Christine, if you get out of bed now, we will have plenty of time.”

“Can Jan and Keita come too?”

“Sorry, it is too late to inform their parents.”

Christine reluctantly got up and they just managed to get to the cinema in time. Isabella gave her ten dollars to buy popcorn as Christine didn’t eat her breakfast. It was a beautiful movie, both Christine and Isabella enjoyed the movie.

But Christine was sullen after they got out of the cinema.

“Shall we have Long John Silver for lunch?

“You bitch, after watching Nemo, you still want to eat fish?”

“We will have KFC then.”

“I am not hungry,” said Christine refusing to finish her half eaten chicken zinger burger. She left her ice cream melt and sat crumbling and mashing her chocolate cake dessert.

Isabella thought to herself, no wonder she is not hungry, she ate the whole tub of popcorn by herself.

As they walked round St Luke’s shopping mall,

“I want to go on that!” That was vertical bungy jumping. Isabella was wary about the safety.

“Are you sure it is safe?”

“You only care about the $10 charge.”

Isabella gave Christine the money and she grabbed it and raced to the queue. She watched the other children flip and bounced off the tiny trampoline with arms holding two wire supports. When it was her turn, Christine was very excited. The bungy technician put on the safety harness on her and told Christine how to jump. But Christine couldn’t jump up no matter how she tried to kick her legs against the trampoline. The technician was helping other children. Christine felt stupid hanging half way up the air. Eventually the technician came and helped her jump up, but she was too scared to do the flip.

“It’s all your fault, you made me embarrassed up there,” Christine railed at Isabella. Isabella kept quiet but felt very sad that her hope of a day’s fun was ruined.

In the car, Christine muttered to her self, “I wish my dad had not died in the Philippines, and I wish he was like Nemo’s dad and he’d come and rescue me.”

One Saturday, they went with Jan and Katie to Aotea Square Markets. They browsed the stalls of the various Pasifika arts and crafts, traditional Maori carvings and contemporary jewelry. They sampled the delicious ethnic cuisine and gyrated to the live entertainment. Isabella sat outside on the steps of the Town Hall when Christine bounced excitedly to her with a flyer in her hand.

“Mum, that guy over there said I am so gorgeous that he could make me a model.”

Isabella read the flyer, “Talent Scout, Radiant Modeling Company.”

A man with dark glasses, extremely slim and tanned with a mustache and a long pony-tail in a black leather jacket came up.

“Hi, I am Damien, and I am an agent for models. Your Christine is so beautiful, she has the Pan Asian look: it’s the rev of all the fashion world overseas.”

Christine was a small, slender girl, very distinctive with her Eurasian features. She had inherited the best of both races and had big deep and double eye lid hazel eyes, and high Asian cheek bones. She had brown straight hair, and a glowing tanned skin. She still looked like a child with no sign of breasts and a waist.

Isabella was stunned, “But she is only twelve.”

“Izzy, how ancient are you? Don’t you know that there are young models?”

Isabella knew that there was nothing she could do to stop Christine. Yes, Christine was very beautiful, and this might just be the beginning of a successful career and a chance for her to get out of this rut of a solo mother.

“She will be chaperoned everywhere she goes, I personally will be there to supervise her, and you can come sometimes,” said Damien.

“Okay then.”

“Christine will come down to the studio for her portfolio photos and then she will have to be trained. Can you both come down tomorrow?” asked Damien.

When they got home, the girls started to pile make up and eye shadow, lip sticks on each other. Then they sashayed down an imaginary catwalk. They strutted around with attitude. When Isabella rang for pizzas, the girls didn’t want to eat any.

“We are too fat.”

“Please eat something, you are growing girls.”

“Don’t be a fuddy-duddy, all successful and famous models are thin.”

Isabella ate a slice of Hawaiian pizza and put the rest back in the box. She was happy for Christine. Becoming a model was always something Isabella had dreamt of becoming. Now it was happening to Christine. But she was also fully aware of the dark seedy side of the modeling world. Her fear and apprehension for the future made her sick.

“Izzy, we need to go shopping for clothes and make-up tomorrow before we go to the photo shoot, my friends are sleeping over tonight, they will accompany me to the studio.”

“Have you called your mum and dad?”

“Don’t need to.”

“You better do, dear.”

The next morning, Christine wouldn’t eat her breakfast, “I don’t want any, I have fat legs.”

Nothing Isabella could do would change Christine’s mind. They went to St Lukes and went to Life Pharmacy, a drug store. A sales assistant recommended the whole shebang of make up. After that they went to a boutique for clothes and accessories. Christine took a long time before she finally chose five sets of clothing.

In the car, she screamed, “Hurry up! Slow coach. Izzy. Can’t you driver faster, we are late.”

When they got to the studio, Damien got Isabella to sign a form that he was to be the sole agent for Christine: if she decided to change an agent, there would be a forfeit. Isabella found out she had to fork out a bomb for the photo shoot for the portfolio.

“It’s a very good investment. Christine will find sponsors and then I will find modeling jobs for her.

Isabella sat watching as the makeup artist removed all the makeup Christine had piled on herself. Then the artist applied hers.

“We use special make up so that they will have special effects.”

The hair dresser did Christine’s hair. The lights were turned on, and the photographer took umpteenth photos. Christine was enjoying every minute of it. They taught her how to pout her lips, how to flutter her eyelashes, how to sashay and strut suggestively before her audience and for the camera.

Isabella was getting tired, perhaps the ventilation in the studio wasn’t too good, she found it hard to breathe. Damien suggested that Christine enroll in a modeling course. They would teach her to be confident and glamorous, self-reliant, and learn to cope with extremely long and busy days. The schedule would be hectic, and sometimes there’d be an unpleasant atmosphere because of jealousy and envy among the models. Isabella was wondering if this was right for Christine, but she knew if she said no, she would lose a daughter.

All this excitement of the modeling world made Christine dreamy and absentminded in school. She did not do any of her home work, and she failed all her examinations and projects.

“I don’t need to study, I am going to be like Rachel Hunter and be a super model,” when her teacher spoke to her.

“Does you mum know?”

“Yes, my mum approves and encourages me.”

Every Saturday, Isabella drove Christine to the modeling school. Everyday, Isabella had a fight to get Christine to eat her dinner. Christine had seen older models quit school, starve themselves and strut their stuff.

Christine stopped eating sensibly. She was not fat, there was not an ounce of fat in her body. But she was fixated by the super slim models she watched on TV. She would eat nothing but salads without dressing. Then she would go on a wild binge, and devour a big kilogram bar of Cadbury milk chocolate, a big carton of tip top ice cream, two cups of hot chips, a giant pack of bluebird sour cream crisps. After that she would make herself sick in the toilet.

Isabella saw her lovely baby transformed; Christine became like a waif, a lost kid in the Manila streets scavenging in the rubbish dump. She was suffering from malnutrition in the land of rich and plenty. Christine was suffering from anorexia nervosa and she wouldn’t let Isabella help her.

Damien told her, “If you are successful, the rich and famous will date you and give you plenty of money. They will buy your photographs and videos. They will sponsor you for overseas engagements.”

Christine’s portfolio was ready and Isabella had to admit that Christine had the makings of a super model. She was very proud that she had given birth to such a beautiful creature and was secretly waiting for the day when she became the mum of the famous and glamorous Christine. Wouldn’t every mum envy her when her Christine sashayed on the catwalk watched by millions.

Damien still couldn’t get a sponsor for Christine.

He suggested that she took up dance lessons, “They will help Christine’s movement and co-ordination. Christine will also have her own exercise workout routine video. These videos are very popular with men. They buy the videos to look at the models in their tight lycra body suits. The sexier the exercise workout, the more videos we will sell. In no time, you will be very rich, trust me!”

Everyday, Damien worked with Christine on her exercise routine. Isabella didn’t dare to say anything though she felt that the routine was too sexy and appeared more like a soft pornography than exercise routine.

Every Saturday, Christine was at the studio, and Sunday at the dance studio at another end of the city. Isabella got quite tired of chaperoning her and Damien. She was tired from Christine’s prima donna tactics. Christine no longer treated her as her adopted mum, rather she treated Isabella as her driver.

She called her, “Izzy, my friends don’t regard their mums, ‘mums’ it is so old fashion. They treat them as friends.”

Sitting at the waiting room for hours, flipping magazines soon tired her. Damien was sweet, she heard rumours that he was gay, so she trusted Damien that he would take care of Christine and won’t betray her trust in him.

“Damien, would it be ok if I left Christine with you?”

“No problem, Izzy, I fully understand how tired and bored you get, sitting there every day doing nothing. If there is any new development, I will let you know.”

One day, Christine was excited when she came home with Damien, “Izzy, Damien found me a sponsor. He is very rich and he wants to meet us next Friday morning.”

“Don’t you have to go to school?”

“Can’t you write a note?”

That was the first of many notes that Isabella wrote, to approve Christine playing truant from school. Christine was just twelve and in Intermediate school.

Christine had piled so much foundation on her face to make her look fair like a pure Pakeha. She was ashamed of her tanned Eurasian look. Then she put on dark blue eye shadow and dark eyeliner, with lots of mascara. She sprayed strong perfume behind her ears and gargled her mouth with Listerine. Christine put on big hoop ear rings which were three inches in diameter like J Lo. Then she smeared deep red lipstick, when Isabella asked if she was overdoing it.

“Izzy, don’t be so old fashion, you know nothing about fashion!”

“I just thought you might look better with less make up.”

“What’s your problem? You want me to clinch that sponsorship, don’t you? Remember my Filipino mother gave me that ugly Asian look and small stature that makes me look like a ten year old kid,” retorted Christine.

Christine put on a new padded bra she just bought and stuffed cotton wool in the cups, “If I was born a Pakeha, I wouldn’t need this.”

“Make yourself useful and do this up for me,” Christine yelled at Isabella to tie up her black sequined bare back halter top.

Then she put on red fish net stockings and a bright orange ultra-tight and ultra-short mini skirt. Looking at the mirror, she adjusted her skirt and pulled the skirt higher up her bum. Her fashionable midriff top exposed her thin waist. Digging deep in her makeup bag, she fished out her blusher and dusted her face. She slipped her feet into four inch red leather stiletto shoes.

“Now I am ready, where the hell is Damien?”

Isabella looked at Christine. From a distance, Christine looked sixteen instead of twelve. What a magic transformation makeup, push up bras and high stiletto shoes can do to a kid. Christine pouted her lips and looked deliberately vampish, and practiced talking suggestively.

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