Content Warning: Abuse, Sexual Situations, Rape
The morning sun pierced into my brain like ice picks as my date opened his curtains. My head spun as the bile rose in my throat. I mumbled curses at the sun and rolled out of bed, rushing to the bathroom to pray to the porcelain god.
“You really shouldn’t drink so much, babe.” His voice pounded in my head like a bad 80s band as I gripped the rim, groaning.
“Don’t call me babe,” I grumbled as I made my way back to the bedroom, quickly gathering my discarded items of clothing.
“Hey now. We had an agreement, love.” He reached out to stroke my back, and I recoiled.
“Just give me my cash, and I’m outta here.” I slipped my clothes back on as he rolled his eyes, handing me a stack of hundreds.
“You don’t have to go, baby. You could be mine, and we could do this every night.” He made another attempt to hold me back. I brushed past him, snatching the cash as I made for the door.
“No, thanks. I’m not a pet.” I slammed the door to his apartment and made my way to the elevator, sighing deeply. I rested my head on the cool industrial wall as it went down to the ground floor.
Stepping out to the street, I shielded my eyes and grumbled, “Fuckin’ a! The sun can go to hell! I just need the coolness of the moon.”
Nighttime was my time. I felt alive when the moon was overhead, calm and collected. I had a plan to get the hell outta here, but the day…the day was utter hell.
Hailing a cab, I slipped into the backseat and unlocked my phone. “45th and Indiana Avenue, please.”
I felt his judgemental eyes in the rear-view mirror as the cabbie figured where I was headed, and I scoffed. “Shut up and drive, you arrogant ass.”
Furrowing his brow, he pulled away from the curb and took off through the traffic. We arrived at my destination in about twenty minutes. I handed him one of the Benjamins and got out, hurrying down the alley to enter through the back door.
“You’re late!” That was all the warning I had before a sharp pain rattled through my skull and I hit the wall.
I cowered on the floor in a ball, waiting for the barrage of insults and kicks headed my way. Saul always lost his shit when I was late.
“I-I’m sorry, sir. My phone died, and I didn’t have my charger…so my a-alarm didn’t go off.” I stuttered out my lie in an attempt to stave off the attack. Pain ripped through me as his foot drove into my stomach, causing me to hurl again.
“Same Selina, different day. Shut the fuck up and fork over the cash, or I’ll do it again!” His gravelly voice rebounded off the walls, splitting my already aching head.
I shakily reached into my cocktail purse and pulled out most of the money my client handed me earlier that morning, and stretched my arm out towards Saul.
“You’re short.” WHAM! Another blow to my torso, winding me as I gasped and shuddered on the cold concrete. “Guess you know I’m going to have to take it out of you again, huh?” His putrid breath stung my nose, causing my aching stomach to churn as he knelt before me, snarling into my ear as he grabbed my ass. I knew it was coming when I didn’t give him his cut, but the quicker I got out of here, the sooner the abuse would end.
He pulled me up by my hair, kicking my feet apart as he pinned me face first against the brick wall, forcing himself inside me with a revolting groan. I closed my eyes, biting my lip to keep from crying out as he pounded into me again and again.
The only escape from the hell I was living were my dreams. Sometimes I was high above the clouds, flying with the moon at my back as I soared through the night sky, gazing down at the world below. Other times I was walking through a glen with the deer and foxes.
Saul growled loudly as he finally finished. He released me and I slumped to the floor, broken from my trance as I cowered, clutching my purse into my now-bruised stomach. I faintly heard his footsteps retreat as he left me lying there, heading to his next appointment, I assumed. I laid there until my stomach settled enough for me to regain my footing. I stumbled back out into the blazing sun and down the alley.
I made my way to the local Y and snuck into the showers, sobbing as the filth and stench of him ran down the drain. What felt like hours later, I squared my shoulders and stepped out. I opened a locker in the corner and retrieved my backpack. I brushed out my hair and dressed in a tracksuit I picked up at a local thrift shop, trashing the remnants of the night’s episode on the way back out. I sat on a bleacher and pulled out my makeup bag, counting my money before adding it to the stack I had been saving.
“Son of a bitch,” I groaned. Sometime during my beating, he had taken the rest of his cut from my purse, and I was short and sore for nothing. I looked around and slid the money back in my makeup bag, burying it in the bottom of the backpack before returning to the locker room and stowing it back in the corner locker. I checked my face for bruising in the mirror and made my way to the street.
Rounding the corner, I entered the Pacific Garden Mission with my head lowered and got in line for a meal. The staff and volunteers knew me by now and smiled softly as they filled my plate. The chatter of families and other vagabonds filled the room as I found a seat at a corner table in clear view of the door. I sat alone, eating in silence and watching the people around me, hoping and praying no one would try to talk to me today.
My meal finished, I slipped my tray on the cart and quietly skated past the guard and into the sleeping room in the back. I curled up on a cot, pulling a blanket up over my head to muffle the sounds from the nearby kitchen, then drifted off.
High above the clouds, I soared like an eagle drifting on the currents. The cool, pale moon shone down on me as I tipped my arms left and right. I let out a whoop of freedom as I spun through the air. I landed in a luscious green field and walked deeper into the forest. The deep aroma of evergreen filled my nostrils as a pair of black and white fox kits ran across the path, chittering to themselves playfully. I giggled as I skipped down the way, picking flowers and humming softly.
My dream was interrupted by the janitor shaking me. “Miss, you know you can’t be here during the day.”
I groaned and nodded, shuffling back into the alley. I checked my phone again, realizing it was a good thing he woke me. My next date would be expecting me in half an hour, and I hadn’t even dressed or put my makeup on yet. I stopped at the thrift shop and purchased a new dress. Saul had ripped my last one to shreds, so there was no way to save it. I checked out and changed in the fitting room, using the mirror to do my makeup. I hailed another cab and gave him the address. “Blackstone Hotel, Michigan Avenue, please.”
We pulled up to the historical building, and I made my way into the Meerkat, where my text had told me to meet him. Glancing around at the patrons, I suddenly realized I stuck out like a sore thumb. My dress was inappropriately short, but beggars couldn’t be choosers when you had legs as long as mine and a thrift store of discards to choose from.
My client was apparent by the smug look on his face, a stark contrast to the other looks of judgement I was getting. He stood as I arrived and pulled out my seat. We made small talk and had a few drinks, the norm for a client to feel like they at least faked wooing me to their rooms. Thirty minutes or so of idle chatter, and he made his move. His hand reached under the table and up my thigh, inching higher as he leaned in and gestured upstairs. I nodded and stood, taking his arm in mine as he led me to the elevator. One more month or two, and you will be free, Selina…you can do this…almost there. I told myself as I inhaled deeply, trying to recapture my dream from earlier that day.
“Are you okay, baby?” he purred, bringing me back to the matter at hand.
Nodding, I smiled. “Of course, love. Just got a little woozy from the wine, is all.”
He crooned into my ear as his mouth trailed down my throat, hands roaming my body as I shuddered. The elevator doors opened with a chime, and he led me to his room and unlocked the door, ushering me inside. As the door closed behind us, I steeled myself for the inevitable change. The gentleman I met downstairs always, always turned into a monster once we were behind closed doors…today was no different.