She can hear the Town Bell’s dull, mournful cry from the back room of the house.
The curtains are closed, but the silvery moonlight echoing through the edges tells her it is just past one am. She doesn’t know what has brought her to this room. She can’t recall the last thing she remembers, there is a fogginess that obscures memories before she can place them.
She is standing in the doorway, darkness pooling across her body like breath. It is always present, surrounding you, unnoticed, then suddenly a sound or a flash and you realise it is there and has been for a very long time.
Fear rushed through her body with a pleasurable sting as the hair on her skin tightened. It was just like lowering yourself into a hot bath; it hurt, in such a sweet, private way. A memory jolted her back to another place. To a cold room in an old house with a fire that never took. She was naked, her bruised knees cold and red on the stone floor. Her torso was draped across the knees of a man, twice her age and girth. Her arms were stretched before her, each hand tightly grasped by another older gentleman; one slim in a suit and glasses, the other wearing a dark denim jacket and a lingering aroma of sweat and engine oil.
Her head was rolling about to the accompaniment of a sharp crack which pierced the silence and tore through the room like thunder. Tears rolled down her cheeks and blood stained her chin and teeth, pooling in the cracks between them. She didn’t hear the cracking sounds anymore. All she heard were the heavy breaths and repulsive grunts of the men in the tiered chamber surrounding her. She could feel their eyes on her even if she couldn’t see them – the stage lights blind her but the gentleman customers are provided the luxury of anonymity.
The fat man who was slapping her arse knew the show must go on and Genna’s blood was now dripping on the floor. Her body was so unresponsive she was biting her lip with every slap. The boss wouldn’t be happy with this. She’d be off the stage for a week or more. There isn’t a gentleman customer in the world who would come to this establishment to see a woman with broken lips and the fat man knew he would be in special trouble for damaging this one, she was the diamond in the crown, the boss’ daughter.
Genna wasn’t sure how long the memory lasted. When it sloughed off her, the moonlight echo around the windows had moved a little further and was now casting sharp, biting beams across the floor. As awareness of her body returned, pain shot from her feet to her thighs, pulling her legs from beneath her. She had been standing still for at least an hour.
Crumpled on the floor, she began to weep. When the salt of her tears reached her lips, she screamed, for the memory was a recent one.