Jessica is a freelance makeup artist at BeautyBuzz. She has always been on a tight budget – she has to pay rent and help her sister’s medical bills.
On one of her makeup sessions, she saw a chance to earn more. Jessica heard from her client named Taylor that she has an appointment tomorrow morning, which will pay her $500 – and Taylor is planning to cancel. Jessica decided to grab that opportunity. While Taylor was away, she listened to the voicemail and remembered the clinic’s address for the appointment.
The next day, Jessica went to the clinic, informing that she was attending on behalf of Taylor since she was sick. It was explained to Jessica that her participation will be for a study regarding Morality & Ethics. All Jessica did that day was answer questions. The questions are not complicated, but she found it difficult to answer because it required exposing some of her secrets. In the survey, she revealed that she has been sleeping around with guys she barely knew. On her third appointment, now face to face with the doctor, she said that she blames herself for what happened to her sister, Becky. Her sister had a brain injury due to falling from the window while Jessica was babysitting her. Jessica left Becky alone as she slept and locked the door. When Becky woke up and looked for Jessica, she fell down from the second floor.
Jessica already revealed too much information to the doctor. The doctor’s name is Dr. Lydia Shields, and so far, she has been very kind and generous to Jessica. She pays Jess every session at around $200 per hour. She also gave her gifts (a manicure and a scarf). Jessica started to trust Lydia Shields eventually.
Lydia’s study now focuses on Jessica, and it was already time to move on to the survey. Lydia asked Jessica to go to a hotel restaurant this time and flirt with a random married man. The man rejected Jessica and told her he was happily married. Jessica cried in front of Lydia after that because the man called her ‘Sugar.’ The man who sexually assaulted her before also called her ‘Sugar.’
Another task Jessica was asked to make up for women that Lydia found in Thomas’s phone. Lydia didn’t tell Jessica who these women were. She said she simply wanted to know if they would give a bigger tip since the service is free. Jessica did the makeup for two ladies, but she got no information that made a difference to Lydia’s study.
Jessica is now uncomfortable with the study, but she still went along. There is another task for her – Lydia asked her to go to a museum. On her way to the museum, there was an accident. An old lady was hit by a car. She wants to make sure the lady is alright, but she is already late for Lydia’s task, so she just asked for the number of the man who also assisted the lady. That man turned out to be Thomas (this incident is staged by Lydia)
Thomas is Lydia’s husband – and the study that she is conducting is for him. Thomas cheated on Lydia before, which led to their breakup, but Thomas is persistent with asking for her forgiveness. And Lydia loves him very much, and she doesn’t want to lose him. She just wants to know if he will never cheat again, just like he promised.
Jessica’s task for that day is to go to a museum and talk or flirt with a man. Lydia expected Jessica and Thomas to meet, but Jessica talked to the wrong man – they would need to try again.
There is another attempt to introduce Jessica and Thomas. Jessica still has no idea why Lydia is making her do this, but she does it anyway since she’s paying her well. Lydia has assigned Jessica to approach a man alone on the table (Thomas) and ask for his number. Jessica came to the man, ready to blurt out her script, but to her surprise, she already knew the man – she had a one-night stand with him. At this time, the two of them figured out what Lydia was trying to do.
As for how Jessica and Thomas ended up having a one-night stand, this happened after Thomas texted her an update about the old lady. Jessica was alone and worried about the study and her family having no money – so she texted Thomas, asking if he would like to have a drink. Jessica didn’t know that Thomas was Lydia’s husband at that time.
Thomas warned Jessica about Lydia. He told her that she was dangerous, that there was another girl before her that got involved with Lydia’s study. Jessica started investigating. Here are a few things that she found out.
Jessica wanted to quit the study, but she was trapped. Lydia is always a step ahead of her. Lydia sent Jessica’s family to Florida for a vacation. Lydia also has footage of Jessica sneaking inside her house (Thomas gave her the code to get her file and April’s). Lydia threatened her that she’d send this to the police. Lydia also took away her job at Beautybuzz. She told them that Jessica used their company’s name without their consent. Lastly, Lydia told Noah (the guy Jessica is seeing) that Jessica is problematic, a liar. She showed him screenshots of Jessica’s messages. Noah believed Lydia and got angry with Jessica.
Lydia is indeed responsible for April’s death. April is a client of Thomas first, then she got obsessed with Thomas. She kept calling him, stalking him.. and participated in Lydia’s study also because of Thomas. The night she died, she was in Lydia’s home first. She confessed that she had made a mistake. She slept with a married man. April described the man (changed the appearance to make it less obvious to Lydia), but Lydia figured it out eventually. Lydia realized that April and Thomas were having an affair, so she gave her the pills.
Lydia already knows that Thomas didn’t cheat on her with Lauren. She gave the pills to April so she could have Thomas all to herself and also protect him. If word got out that Thomas slept with a client, then he may lose his license.
The truth was revealed during their Christmas dinner (Lydia, Thomas, and Jessica dined together). Lydia invited Jessica to that dinner or blackmailed her with the footage so she would come. At that dinner, Lydia asked them if they slept together. Thomas lied and said no. Jessica admitted the truth that they did sleep together once. Also, during that dinner, Jessica revealed that she figured out that Lydia gave the pills to April, and Thomas got angry. Thomas told Lydia that they needed to go to the police the next day and confess.
Lydia killed herself that night, leaving a note that narrates her conversation with April. She left out details that will incriminate Thomas.
Jessica’s life is now back to normal, but since she got no job with Beauty Buzz, she asked for money from Thomas. He is stunned at the amount that she is asking, but he has no choice. After all, he is Lydia’s beneficiary, so money won’t be an issue for him. Aside from that, he needs to make sure Jessica won’t tell anyone about April.
The End of An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks.