I stand back deciding whether to take his offer or not. Tonight is the last night. What do I have to lose?
I am one of those they call “destitutes” in this country. I cannot remember ever having a mother. My body, I cannot even call it mine; it is shared between the men I sell it to when the skies turn dark, and the man who supposedly spawned me. That man. The one responsible for the many bruises inside and outside of me and the fact that I would probably never give birth again. The one responsible for my many jail records, who takes my dirty money and spends it on alcohol and prostitutes like me. My owner, Papa.
We live in the small wooden shed behind the town dump. When I’m not at home he goes to see the white woman who works in the factory in…let us leave his business for him today; one of these days I’ll finally sink the knife beneath my tattered clothes into his chest – although I don’t believe there is a heart there to pierce; how I hate that devil!
Why am I telling you all this?
Today I met a man. No, not one of my nightly visitors. This one is different. I saw someone following me, so I used my escape routine: dodge in and out of alleys till I reach the huge green garbage can in the town centre, change into semi respectable clothes, and walk on as though nothing out of the ordinary was afoot. A day in the life of a prostitute.
As I reached the end of the road someone tapped me from behind. I turned.
“Nice try,” he said “but you dropped your wig.”
I knew it would be pointless to argue. “What do you want from me? Are you police?” I asked in fear. I was not going back to that place.
A customer then. I smiled, an actress who has played the same role for several years. “How can I be of service?”
“I don’t want your body.” he said.
I stiffened. “Listen sir,” I said tersely. “I have a job to do, so if you’re buying what I’m selling please be quick about it.
“I don’t want your body.” He said again.
“Then what do want from me?” I said warily.
“I have a proposition for you.”
“What could I possi-“
“Let me finish. The police force needs women like you, women with good looks and street smarts to help us catch a criminal.”
“I thought you weren’t with the police.”. The old fear was back.
“Then WHO ARE YOU?!!” I exploded. I was getting tired of the merry-go-round. I hadn’t gotten any money that night. Papa would kill me.
“Let’s just say I’m doing a friend a favour. I’m helping the police force.”
“Then I can’t help you.” I attempted to walk off. He held me back.
“All your criminal records would be wiped off, and we’ll give you lots of money and a house. A fresh start.”
A fresh start. My dream. The one thing I’ve always longed for.
“I give you a week to think.” He pressed a card into my palm. “Call me when you agree.”
I was dumbfounded. A chance to live a life with no abuse. To be treated like a human being, not the worthless possession of a heartless beast. Maybe I could even be loved.
Papa’s whip that night was like a feather on my skin. Never again, I kept saying.
So tonight is the night. I will make that call. I would walk to the payphone and dial. I would…
Who am I to long for freedom? Do I deserve to be free? Who knows what new beast is waiting for me out there?
So I tear the card to pieces, choosing the worthless life I’m used to over the fresh life I long for and all its uncertainties.
Papa is calling me now, whip in hand.
May Death come quickly.