In the year 2214, buying a girl is as simple as going shopping. A model from Sleeping Beauty Inc. can revolutionize your life. She can organize your home, your work, advise you on style, diet, and be the pretty little thing on your arm when you need a date.
What will happen to Harrison when his model is not what he expected?
Harrison stepped through the glass doors and entered the waiting room of Sleeping Beauty Inc. With pink metallic chairs and faux snakeskin seats, it was obviously not his regular hangout. He sat down anyway, close to the door. From the least obtrusive seat in the room, he could see three monitors showing Sleeping Beauty Inc. success stories.
“She changed my life,” an immaculate businessman pronounced. “This was me before I hired Cynthia.” They showed a picture of a pudgy, freckled post-grad. Naturally, he looked pathetic and desperately in need of the makeover Cynthia gave him. “As soon as we were in the car, she started working out my new regime. She put me on an exercise program, changed my diet, and coached me on success. I have always been talented in business, but she brought me to the next level with her style and grace,” he beamed. “I’ve had Cynthia for six years now. She doesn’t cost me money. She makes me money.”
He disappeared from the screen as they displayed Sleeping Beauty Inc.'s business number over clips from last year’s fashion show.
Harrison's discomfort was palpable. He came to the office exactly on time for his appointment so he wouldn’t have to wait around. He didn’t want to see the other men stewing in the waiting room, and he certainly didn’t want them to see him. They were all staring at him, bug-eyed. One was chewing something with his mouth half-open. He looked several pegs below the success story they showed on the monitor, even before the transformation with Cynthia. Harrison hoped the gum chewer didn’t have his hopes up too high.
The next testimonial piped up on the monitor closest to Harrison. “My business life has always been exceptional. It was my home life that was lacking. I’ve had butlers, housekeepers, maids, gardeners, personal assistants, and everything else. You name it, I’ve had it. I didn’t have time to supervise my home. Now Roxanne takes care of all of that for me. She knows me inside and out, so everything is always done exactly to my taste. And she’s a stunning date on the fly,” the man confessed with a vomit-inducing wink.
They proceeded to show a clip of the beautiful Roxanne coming down a grand white staircase in an evening gown. She was every man's deepest fantasy.
Harrison smirked. The ads were making him feel more out of place. It wasn't like he was going to be able to afford a model who looked like Roxanne.
A moment later, a woman in a buff-colored suit popped into the room. She recognized him from his application and approached him. “Hi, Harrison? Thank you for waiting,” she said shrilly. “I’m Vivian, a client coordinator. My last meeting ran long. That client has visited our showroom five times and he still can’t make up his mind. There are so many excellent models to choose from.”
Harrison smiled and pretended he didn’t mind waiting. He had to be patient since he couldn’t afford the rates anywhere else.
The client coordinator made friendly chit-chat as she ushered him past the reception desk and into a private office. She wasn’t a bad-looking woman, except that she was probably old enough to be his mother—like a lot of the other women he knew.
“Alright,” she said, seating him and taking her place on the other side of the desk. “Let’s go over your specifications, shall we?”
Harrison nodded and tried to relax. After all, he wasn’t in the absurd waiting room mixing with the fishbowl of strange buyers anymore.
The client coordinator reminded him that their consultation was completely confidential and got started. “Let’s go over each category starting at the top.” She lit up her desk and displayed a copy of his application form on the surface. Then she pointed to the first category: beauty. “I noticed you didn’t mark down a preference. Let me fill you in about each style. First, there’s Snow White—”
“I get it,” Harrison interrupted. “I didn’t put anything down, because I don’t care about what she looks like. All the girls have to be presentable to qualify for a contract with you, don’t they?”
“Of course,” the coordinator said without skipping a beat. “I can set your selection to be random. Your answers to our other questions might narrow the field a bit. Usually, it’s the most important feature for our clients.”
“The girls aren’t robots, are they? I was under the impression that they were real girls you chose to describe with fairytale names depending on their coloring.”
She laughed. “Robots? This isn’t the twenty-fourth century. We still get girls the old-fashioned way. Then let’s move onto the second category: function.”
Harrison’s eyes ran down the list: Diva, Creative Princess, Domestic Goddess, Queen Rose, and Enchantress. His mouth was figuratively filled with tar as he read the titles. Why couldn’t he have afforded a less cheesy agency?
“I wondered if you didn’t understand the titles.”
“Because I chose the Domestic Goddess category?”
“Y-yes,” the coordinator stammered. “In the past, we’ve experienced miscommunications with that classification. The client thinks he’s ordering something he’s not. Due to misunderstandings, I’m obligated to explain each title.” She launched into an explanation. “The Diva is the kind of woman who looks great on any man’s arm. She’s always the pinnacle of fashion and style—”
Harrison interrupted again. “I read the small print. I don’t need a woman who is the pinnacle of fashion. I don’t want an artist, or a gardener, or a five-star chef. I need someone who can be a personal assistant and do a little of everything.”
“I see what you mean. Technically, the Domestic Goddess is our classification for women who are jacks-of-all-trades,” she said with a wink. “Now age? You marked under twenty-five and that seems perfect for you. You are?”
“Twenty-six,” Harrison supplied.
“Gorgeous. Lastly, if there are any special skills you’d like in a model, you can choose from this list.”
Harrison just about lost it. As if it wasn’t already embarrassing enough. “Can we skip all that and just get to the price?”