I often arrive at my life class quite early. By doing this it is possible to set up my easel and reserve one of my favourite positions in the studio by fastening my paper to the drawing board. Frequently there is till time to go next door into the cafeteria to buy a coffee and perhaps chat with some of the other students.
On the day in question, I was alone and just sitting down to drink my coffee when the door into the cafeteria opened. At first I could see no one; then the head of a young girl appeared and looked hesitantly around. I didn't know her so I just vaguely smiled in her direction. With the briefest smile in return, she walked over to my table.
"Excuse me," she said nervously, "Can you tell me where the life class is held?"
I pointed to the door on the other side of the cafeteria. "It's just out through that door, turn right and the door of the life studio is right in front of you."
She thanked me and followed my directions. A minute later she was back again. "Er... there doesn't seem to be anyone there," she stated.
"No, it's a bit early. I was first to arrive this morning. You're new aren't you?"
"Well, just choose your position and set up your easel, " I suggested.
"Um... I'm not a student. I'm the model."
"Oh, sorry," I repled. "I didn't realise that. You'll want to have a word with David then. He's our instructor. He'll be along shortly."
I indicated the chair on the other side of the small round table. "Have a seat and grab a coffee while you're waiting."
She sat down. "I don't think I'll bother with a coffee. I'll just wait."
"OK," I replied. "Come to think of it, David did tell us last week that we'd be having a new model today, but he didn't know who. What's your name?"
"Abigail," she replied.
"I'm Melanie," I returned. I noticed that she seemed rather nervous and her thin small hands were clasped tightly into little fists resting right on the edge of the table. It suddenly struck me that this might be her first life modelling engagement, so I decided to help.
"This your first life modelling?" I asked.
"Yes," she replied with a nervous laugh looking down at the table. "It's the first modelling of any sort for me."
"Are you nervous?"
She clasped her hands together and raised her eyes to look at me. "Yes, I'm very nervous. I don't know whether I'll be any good at it."
"Belive me, I know exactly how you feel. I remember the first time I did life modelling. I was scared stiff to think that a whole roomful of students would be looking at me, completely naked."
Abigail looked directly at me with surprised eyes. "Yes, that's just what I was thinking," she said. "You do life modelling too?"
"Well, I only do it occasionally when the model doesn't arrive. But it doesn't worry me a bit now. Believe me, when the students are drawing you, you might as well be a cabbage. All they are looking at is your shape and the tones. We've all seen so many naked girls on that podium, the fact that you are nude doesn't mean a thing."
This seemed to reassure her and her smile grew slightly more expansive. She seemed to emerge from behind her defensive screen.
"Are you a student?" I asked.
"Yes, I started this week at the art college."
I asked her where she lived and she told me that she had a small room in a student house not very far from my own. While she was speaking I was able to study her closely. She had a thin pale face with no makeup and her blond hair was gathered up untidily behind her head as though arranged in a rush. Her blue-green eyes were large and bright but had a haunted look about them. She was huddled in a rough tweed coat that was rather too large and had certainly seen better days.
She then looked directly at me as though she felt able to trust me. "Do you mind if I ask you something?"
"Not at all. Fire away."
"Will I be paid in cash when I've finished my modelling?"
I smiled at her intensity. "Yes, just call in the office and the Secretary will give you a small brown envelope. We pay cash in hand to our models."
"Oh, good." She looked relieved but the intensity of her demeanour did not vanish. Just then David breezed in through the door and I was able to introduce him to Abigail. He glanced at his watch and asked her to go into the studio.
I finished my coffee and a few minutes later I joined them. Several more students had arrived and were busy getting their place set up. I hung my jacket on the back of my chair and sat down to wait.
David briefly introduced Abigail to the class as she walked onto the podium in her robe. She looked decidedly nervous, but as she caught my eye, I winked at her and gave her the thumbs up sign which drew from her a slight, nervous smile.
Looking at Abigail, David explained that we would start off with several quick three-minute poses. She removed the clip from her hair, took off her robe and stood there, naked. Her long blond hair cascaded down her narrow back, then she turned to face in my direction. She had a shy beauty I have rarely seen before. Her breasts were quite small but were firm with pink delicate nipples. Her skin looked smooth and her pussy was completely shaved. As she moved from pose to pose she reminded me of a fragile butterfly that was trying to settle on a flower. She had long slender legs and her rib cage showed quite clearly. I also noticed that they had several bruises on them; there were also a few on her legs.
I'll be honest. I was more than a little interested in Abigail.
We then had a long pose of some thirty minutes before the coffee break. When it arrived, I went over to her. "You were great!" I enthused. I really enjoyed those quickie poses. Come and have a look. She put her robe on as I led her over to my easel. "See?" I said. "You've inspired me!"
She looked at my drawings and, for the first time, she gave me a real smile showing lovely white teeth. "Oh, Melanie. They are good. You've flattered me."
"I loved drawing every one of those. I'm sure David will be pleased. He'll probably book you up for the next month or two."
Abigail suddenly stiffened and the smile disappeared. I didn't know why at the time, but I wanted to cheer her up so I said I'd buy her a coffee. As we reached the door she almost stumbled and held on to the door post for a second. As she looked at me I noticed how pale her face was. The standing poses obviously hadn't helped her. I put my arm around her thin waist and looked straight into her wide eyes.
"When did you last eat?" I asked.
She looked embarrassed at the question but I think its suddenness made her answer truthfully. "Dinnertime yesterday," she replied looing down at the floor.
I suddenly decided to take charge of her. "Right! I'll not only buy you a coffee but something to eat as well. I can't have my model collapsing right in the middle of a gorgeous pose can I?" I tried to appear flippant, but I was serious.
I told her to grab a table while I stood in the queue. I bought her a coffee, a large meat pastie and a chocolate-covered roll. As I placed them in front of her I said, "Now, put some meat on your ribs. You'll be easier to draw."
She smiled as she tucked into the pastie. I could tell she hadn't eaten for some time. "This is lovely," she said. Then she downed the choc roll and finished the coffee.
"How do you feel now?" I asked.
"Full. Really full. Thanks Melanie. You're a real pal." She grabbed my hand and gave it a squeeze."
I asked David if we could have one long reclining pose for the rest of the session. He agreed. Abigail lay down on the podium with her head resting on a large cushion. From my position I could see her face and noticed that it now had a slight blush. I hoped the food and coffee had helped.
When the session ended I took rather longer than usual to pack away my things, then hung around waiting for Abigail to emerge from the changing cubicle. I walked down to the office with her and waited while she talked with the Secretary. A few minutes later she emerged with her envelope. She checked the contents and half murmured, "That'll do." I didn't attach any significance to the remark at the time.
As we turned to leave, we almost bumped into David as he came down the stairs. "Ah, Abigail, are you OK to model for us next week? You did really well today. I've heard a few complimentary remarks."
Her reaction surprised me. She looked blankly at him and then stammered, "Er... um... I don't know whether I'll be able to. I... I... just don't know."
She moved towards the door and I followed. David called after us, "Let me know tomorrow. Try to persuade her Melanie."
Something about Abigail's behaviour alarmed me. It wasn't natural. I decided that I needed to have a long chat with her. An idea occurred to me. "I'm going to pick up a Chinese for my dinner. Would you care to join me?"
She had that defensive look again. "I... um... I need to do some shopping," she said.
"That's OK," I returned. "I'll come with you to do your shopping and then we can get a Chinese."
"No. I can't do that. Well... alright. I'll come to your place. I can do my shopping later."
We went to the Chinese and picked up a dinner for two. Abigail seemed to relax a bit then. When we arrived at my house I invited her into the kitchen and she helped me to get the dinner ready. While we sat at the kitchen table I started my probing.
"And how did you enjoy your first life modelling session?" I asked.
She smiled as she said, "Once I'd been doing it for a few minutes, I quite enjoyed it."
"I thought so. You seemed a natural. You held all the poses really well. I could tell that David was pleased too. He's a real dear, but he doesn't pay compliments for nothing."
"Yes, he was very kind," she replied.
"One thing I noticed as you were posing," I said, " was that you had a few bruises on your ribs and on your legs. How did you get those?"
Abigail stopped eating and just looked down at the table. "Oh, it's nothing."
"Something must have caused them," I pursued. "Have you had an accident or something?"
My persistence paid off. She looked me quickly in the eyes. "Do you really want to know?" she asked.
"Of course I do."
"You might think less of me."
"Nonsense. Why should I?"
"OK I'll tell you. I got them at home."
"At home?" I queried. "But how?"
She looked sadly down at her plate and started playing with her fork. "I think it's usually referred to these days as 'child abuse'.
Now I stopped eating too. "What!" I exploded. "What do you mean? How did it happen?"
"My dear mother." She almost spat the words out.
"You mean your mother gave you all those bruises?" I said with some heat.
"But how did she do it, and why did she do it?"
Abigail put her hand up to her forehead as though shielding her eyes. "The way she always does it. By punching me and kicking me." Then she grew heated and looked at me. "Why? She doesn't really need a reason, but on the last occasion it was because she said I kept some of her change when she sent me shopping. I didn't! I swear to you, I didn't. It was just her way of picking on me. Just an excuse to hit me again."
By now I was livid. How could anyone mistreat a sweet, vulnerable kid like this. I just wanted to get hold of her mother and strangle her with my bare hands. "But, d'you have a father?"
"He's my step-father".
"Didn't he try to stop her?"
"Oh yes, he tried. He always tries when he's there. Not that it did him or me any good. She used to attack him as well. She threw boiling chip oil over him on one accasion."
I winced. "What did he do?"
"He went to casualty and said he'd had an accident."
I could see that she was getting upset telling me about this, so I went around the table and put my arms around her. "But what about the social workers? What about the police?' I pursued.
"They always believed my mother. Oh, she was so plausible and nice with them. On one occasion my step-father phoned the police and told them she'd attacked him. When they arrived she said he'd started it and that he'd been violent to her for years. The police believed her, arrested my step-father and then she managed to get an exclusion order against him to stop him living in the house."
Abigail started to cry. I could hardly believe my ears. How could a mother, of all people, be so cruel? She must have read my thoughts. "You're surprised eh?" she asked. I nodded.
"I thought it was something unusual until I looked at a book published by the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. Their figures show that 64% of child abuse is by women."
"What?" I held her closer in my arms. She was as taut as a violin bow and was starting to shake.
I managed to calm her down and led her into the lounge where we both sat on the settee. She then told me that as soon as she was old enough she applied to go to art college as a way of getting out of her mother's grasp. A grotty room in a student house was a better option for her. She explained that the other three girls in the house were close friends and didn't seem to want her there. She had felt utterly lonely and unwanted.
I knew I had to do something. I remembered my training in aromatherapy massage. "Look. You need to unwind and relax. I'll run you a bath with one of my favourite oil mixtures in it." She just nodded.
I started to run the hot water and then mixed the oils. I put a new towel on the radiator to warm it. When I returned to the lounge, Abigail was walking around looking at my paintings. "Are these yours?" she asked.
"You're really good aren't you?" We talked about the paintings for a little while. I thought it would help to calm her down.
"I expect your bath is ready now," I said as I led her in the direction of the bathroom. She stopped as she noticed a picture on my desk. She picked it up and looked at it, then looked directly at me in some surprise.
"This... this is your wedding photograph?"
"Oh, I didn't know you were married. Not that I'm surprised. What's your husband's name?"
"He's working is he? When does he get home?" She put the picture down and followed me.
"I don't know whether he'll be coming home," I replied, and before she could say another word, I added, "Come and get in your bath and I'll explain."
As I watched her undress she had a much greater effect on me than she'd had just posing nude in the art class. She got into the bath, held her hair above her head and lay back with her eyes closed.
"Mmmmm... This is lovely. What a gorgeous perfume! No one has ever done this for me before. Thank you so much."
"I think you need a bit of pampering," I said. "Let's take a look at those bruises."
I lifted her legs out of the water, one at a time, and ran my hands gently over the blue patches on her wet legs. "Let's see your ribs."
She arched her back so that her ribs came out of the water. As I ran my hands over her bruises I noticed that the nipples on her small breasts were becoming erect. Things started to stir inside me. She opened her eyes and looked directly at me.
"You said you were going to explain," she said.
I sat on the side of the bath and started my story. "Roger and I were married four years ago. Both his mother and my mother are widows and are now living in France. That is how I came to meet Roger. He is a freelance typographic designer and has a good job designing for the publishing trade: book adverts point-of-sale design and so forth. We were very happy living here. I quite like the north of England. The folk are so friendly. We bought this house and were very happy living here. We used to drive down to France to visit our mothers. They live about 80 miles apart but it meant we could visit both when we went over there."
"Then, about two months ago Roger's mother fell ill. I won't go into details but it was quite serious. We both visited a few times but this took up a lot of time and Roger's work began to suffer. So he suggested that we move to France and stay in his mother's house until she recovered. With his type of work it means he is able to work anywhere and keep in touch with his clients by phone and by supplying artwork on disks. But for me it would have meant leaving my art training and earning money with my commissions. Also I had just started writing erotic stories which I was about to put on some internet sites I had seen. We had quite an argument and I just refused to go with him."
"It's not that Roger is the jealous sort. Perhaps I should explain, Abigail, that I am bisexual and that he is quite prepared to accept that. He realises that I need to spend some time with my female friends just as he does with his male friends." At this, Abigail's eyes opened wide as she stared at me.
"Now you know the danger you're in. Naked and alone, in the bath of a bi-woman." I laughed.
"Well," she replied, "It would be a change for me to be loved by a woman instead of being beaten up by one." She smiled and closed her eyes again. I carried on talking.