One Reply to “5.5.2014 Journal Prompt”

  1. She wants nothing from him, nothing more than the clothes that she wears, for that is what she brought with her at the start. Maybe the coat is new, but she had a coat back then. And her thoughts return to that day, how he said her name as though he knew her, rolled it around in his mouth as if it was a boiled sweet. He offered her a cigarette and he lit it for her. The taste of him was still on the filter when she put it to her lips, and that’s something like kissing.

    It was so cold that day, the air sharp as glass or fire and it burned her fingers like fire burns, and she turned up the collar of her coat and she smiled her thanks for the cigarette and made to walk away. She thought she was playing him, as she’d played those before him, men who thought they were owed something because of the money in their pockets, men who smelled of grease and sweat and something sour. And they kept their boots on always and their hands were unclean and the skin at the backs of their necks was wet and sticky, the hair cut so short it was like needles when she brushed her fingers there. And they were easy men and quick, and she thought he was one of them.

    But he was different. He wanted her clean and he’d bought clothes in her size and he later burned what was hers. And there was a house on the edge of town and he took her there. She smelled of roses after she bathed and though the slip that he bought her was a little tight about her middle, it felt soft and slippy, and it was so white that she thought of angels when she looked at herself in the mirror.

    He said she could stay and he’d pay her for all her hours and he was soft in his words and considerate, asking her and not expecting anything. That’s how it felt. That first night they just danced and they drank wine that tasted of melon and they slept fully clothed in the one bed but not touching.

    He called her honey and sweetheart and he kissed her cheek when he left. And he told her what time he’d be home and he was never late. But there was a chain to her wrist and fixed to a wall, so she was caught now. He said he was sorry for the chain, and it didn’t change anything, he said. Still sweetheart and still the money he’d pay her for staying.

    Kisses to soft touches, and he called her by her name some days, and he said that he loved her, and he cried at the red marks on her wrist where she’d pulled against the chain.

    ‘You must eat,’ he said. And he fed her food that he’d cooked, fed her as he might a young child. And he washed her and he put her make-up on and she asked to be let go. He was angry then and he punched the walls and he broke cups or glasses and he left her alone in the dark.

    She lost count of the days and the weeks and the months. Lost track of everything. One day she asked to see the money he owed her and he counted out the hundreds and thousands of dollars onto the table and he left it there so she would always see it, adding to the pile every new day. ‘But you must eat,’ he said.

    Then today, grown thin as sticks, and she slips free of her chain and she leaves by the window, wearing just her clothes and a coat that is new. And she was a little surprised that she looked back, and that she felt a small ache inside. She thought of him loving her, and a part of her had liked that, and that’s why she did not take the money.

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