This was our first attempt at a writing group prompt, and it was so fun to see where everyone took it. The prompt was, “She did not expect to see the Persian man that day, but …” Try your own 🙂
She did not expect to see the Persian man that day but she was hopeful. She felt silly as she reapplied her Honolulu Pink lipstick, bending at the waist to peer critically at her reflection in the dingy, cracked bathroom mirror. She straightened and ran a hand through stringy blonde hair, trying to fluff the strands, wishing there was more to fluff. She hoped some of it would cover the fingerprint bruises on her neck. Foundation had dulled the purple and green, but if someone looked closely he could see the broken capillaries under the delicate skin.
The Persian man might look closely. His dark, quiet eyes seemed to see every detail, though he rarely commented on them. A few weeks earlier another man had also decided he wanted it rough. It was nicer when she had warning, when it was a repeat customer and she knew what they liked and she could control it. But sometimes they snapped. It was one of those times and she walked away with a black eye for her trouble — at least she’d walked away, she reassured herself. The Persian man had come the next day, with those eyes. Those eyes that caressed her and made her feel precious and ashamed at once.
“Do you want me to kill him?” He’d asked, in that lilting voice of his. She thought he was joking. She half-wished he wasn’t.
“Oh this?” she’d said lightly, drawing him to her, placing his hand on her chest. “It’s nothing, just being clumsy like usual.”
She knew he didn’t believe her, and hadn’t expected it. It wasn’t his concern that she had a black eye. He wasn’t paying to have her cry on his shoulder.
But she wanted him now. His solidness. The moments he held her afterward and made her feel like he meant it. She needed it after last night’s scare. She couldn’t tell if the men were just getting meaner or as she got older they felt they could do what they wanted with her. That she was lucky she even had customers, and she should take what they gave her.
He needed her, too, she thought, remembering the last time he had come. No one really needed her these days, not really. But he had held her, loosely so she could pull away had she wanted to. They’d laid facing each other on a cheap yellow and orange hotel comforter. And she’d touched his face, just once, cupping his cheek. They’d locked eyes and his grew wet with unshed tears.
“She’s gone,” he’d said before burying his face in her disheveled hair.
He’d told her about his wife, the love of his life. It had been cancer. Her own thoughts skitted away quickly from the idea. She wasn’t even brave enough to think the word, let alone help someone battle it. But he made her want to be courageous. So she listened, and didn’t try to escape and held him. The cynic in her, the one that had crushed the romantic’s little heart, wondered why he’d been coming to a hooker for the past six months if his wife was dying. The romantic sputtered that it was to seek human comfort, the most basic form of human comfort. She quieted them both as she just held him.
Yes, he needed her, she knew it. She pouted into the mirror and adjusted the wire on her push-up bra to bring a little more flesh into play.
No, she didn’t expect to see the Persian man, she thought as she sauntered out the door on dangerously high boots. But she was hopeful.