The woman on the very top floor looks out on the world with a great need in her chest.
She takes a moment to glance at her diamond and platinum watch, which is just another painted ornament on her statuesque body. It had been carefully sculpted to suit her needs as she climbed the ladder in this life. A stomach which is flat but not muscular, legs which are slender but not without curve, breasts which are enhanced by the powers of modern medicine.
Yes, she has obtained the status she has always dreamed of. There had always been the women in the magazines, on TV, and everywhere else who showed her how to behave. That a life need not be left to chance - it could be formed between two strong enough hands.
The woman in the top of the building had watched these icons with great wide eyes that studied and analyzed. Even when young she did not miss the inherent message: power, beauty, money, wealth.
They were all interrelated concepts, but only the hard working could achieve them. A person had to spend their life striving for those things - never being distracted by what was useless. Never giving in to sentimentality.
There is a click as the door opens - feet pad in on the soft black carpet.
“The Winston case’s appeal has been delayed to tomorrow morning at 10:30.”
The woman turned around to face the employee, who is exactly what one would imagine him to be. He is acceptably tall, square jawed, with orderly dark hair that nearly matched the color of his eyes. He wore a slightly less expensive suit than did his superior - navy blue with sleek pinstripes.
His boss gave a curt nod and her short black hair makes the slightest of movements against those high boned cheeks. Her employee knows better than to make unnecessary conversation once work is over, but nonetheless, he sees an opportunity and must take it.
“Vivian, I’m going to dinner-” He began in a practiced voice.
“Ms. Zhao.” She corrected without a change in expression or tone. Her face was an impassive mask.
“Right. Yes, I apologize...Goodnight Mrs. Zhao.”
“Goodnight Mr. Davids,” the woman replied as she turned back to gaze out of her window. She remained this way until the door had been closed - then waited thirty minutes before gathering her things to leave the office for the night.
She was always the last one to leave.
The hallways were still lit but empty - of people, of noise, of everything besides her own body. The woman looked down at her expensive watch to see that it was twelve thirty in the morning.
A well manicured hand reached out a finger to press the button on the elevator, which turned a nice bright red. Once it arrived she stepped in, her heels clicking loudly on the polished marble.
Once she had reached the ground floor she said a quick goodbye to the security officer, as she did every night. Then she was in the lonesome parking lot, where her new Tesla sat waiting in the dark alone. The woman did not go to meet her car - not yet.
There was something more important to do first. A ritual, a craving, that had to be satisfied. The longest she could wait was a week, but every Monday night Ms. Zhao could find relief.
The woman gingerly removed her shoes before leaving them both in an orderly pair next to her car on the tarmac. With her feet bare she proceeded to walk quickly into the blackened alley which separated two seedy pubs from the lot for the office. It was merely a separation between the two buildings that was no wider than eight feet - ending in a solid brick wall on the other end.
The woman walked among the detritus on the ground: cigarette butts, discarded beer cans, old magazines, a dirt covered red T-shirt, glittering glass shards. Until she finally could see the object she desired. It stood there waiting for her as it did every night, as though it had been placed there for her alone.
Those pale two feet stepped up to a cardboard box on the side of a large green dumpster. They were covered in small cuts where glass and nails and other things had dug into them as she made her pilgrimage. Blood oozed out of the fresh wounds. The bottoms of both feet were covered in raised white scars.
The large metal bin served as the collective trash heap for the two bars on either side of the brick walls. A strong odor rose out of the thing from less than a foot away, the stench overpowering. It was all that remained of spoiled ingredients and greasy subs day after day. Its bouquet also contained notes of beer infused vomit and vinegared red wine.
Ms. Zhao stood on the box in the dark of the alley. Looking over the dumpster she removed her designer blazer, followed by her white silk shirt and plain black bra. She felt the cold air on her chest and closed her eyes to feel the sensation more fully. Next came the rest of her clothing until the woman stood there - her pale body thin and bare - over the pit.
A shaking hand pried open the lid, releasing the full stench of that wretched heap. Her eyes shut before she placed a graceful long leg into the mix of black bags and pizza boxes. Her other leg followed in the same manner as someone taking a dip into a hot springs.
Ms. Zhao dug herself deeper down into the filth before using her nails to rip open one of the plastic bags beside her cheek. Its contents of rotting food and napkins came tumbling out onto her body and face.
Her full red mouth morphed into a grin before the feast of the night began: moldy white bread colored green, rotten fruits turned sour, meats tanned a sullen brown, vegetables without any of their snap. Her teeth were strong and with them she ripped into takeout bags full of stale chips and plastic tubs filled with sour butter. Even the napkins that only caught stains of food - she shoved them into her mouth with what remained of her lipstick. She left cuts on her fingers and broke nails from prying open the tops of hot beer bottles, flat from baking in the heat of the dumpster during the day. Ms. Zhao only took breaks to smile and belch as she rolled in her makeshift bed.
That morning at four she found her clothes and shoes before returning home. There she would clean and scrub away all the evidence until her skin was raw and fresh as anyone's.
That morning, she was already counting the days until she could go back again.