Star grimaced and hitched her skirt up another couple of inches. Another night on PPD. PPD stood for Pervert Prevention Duty. She convinced herself that if she didn’t take payment for what she did the men would take it from someone else against their will. I’m doing a public service, she told herself. I am not a slut.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, another voice responded. I don’t sleep at night, she thought, wondering if this inner battle meant she was going crazy. I’m at work all night, might as well be a vampire for all the sun I get to see!
“Hey there, girly,” A alcohol-laden voice broke into her thoughts. “What are you up to?”
Star eyed the curb-crawler in his pick-up. Fat, greasy, and it had been way too long since this guy had been near a shower. They possibly hadn’t even been invented the last time this guy considered washing. She forced a flirty smile, and in a sugary voice replied, “I’m just a lonely girl, lookin’ for some fun. Do you know where I might find some?”
“I got an idea…” he drawled, exposing his yellow teeth in a leer.
Can the upchuck reflex, girly. It’s this or live off air. She smiled, and tried to look coy as she edged closer to the pickup.
Half an hour later she was back on the street. She was sick of all the feelings swirling round inside, the guilt, the revulsion… and most of all the feeling that had lead her here in the first place. Grief.
There was a vicious circle of dirty feelings flowing inside. The grief that led her here, the revulsion at what she did – had to do – to make ends meet, the guilt for not finding a better way to live, and the guilt of not being able to save Nick. She tried not to think about the acts she was performing, but the only other path her mind took led to Nick.
Nick, short for Nicodimus, not Nicholas. He was only seven when he died. Seven, not even close to a quarter of the age he should have reached. All because she hadn’t been able to tell. Not the cops, or social services, not her friends, nobody. She had somehow been ashamed that she couldn’t stop her father beating herself and her brother ragged.
She couldn’t find the words. Not even after her father threw Nick down the stairs, where he broke his neck. While her Mom and Dad were at the cop-shop, she’d thrown a few things in a bag, stolen her fathers’ credit card and got the hell out of there.
Leaving her home town hadn’t made the dreams go away. The last thing she saw every night was her brother’s body, lying broken and bloodied at the bottom of the stairs.
A fresh assault of tears came, streaking down her face with no signs of stopping.
“You look like you could use a friend,” a kind voice commented softly.
Star looked up, through her tears she saw blue eyes and a kind smile, but her self-preservation kicked in. “I’m fine,” she told the stranger.
“I can still be a friend,” he prodded gently. “If you’re fine or otherwise.”
“I only just met you,” she protested weakly. A friend sounded good. A friend sounded very good.
“The world is full of strangers, if none of them got talking it would be a very boring planet. I’m David, by the way.”
“Star.” She wiped the tears from her face, and took a good look at him. He was very attractive, and if she hadn’t been feeling so awful she may have felt her heart flutter. He was dressed entirely in black from head to toe, a stark contrast to his pale skin and bleached blonde hair.
“Well, Star, would you like to go for a ride?”
For a moment she was taken aback, thinking she’d just got suckered in by another punter, aiming for a low price by being friendly, then she realised he was standing by a motorbike.
She shook her head, “I don’t know, I probably shouldn’t…”
“Accept lifts from strangers?” he questioned, raising his eyebrows. “I thought we covered this, I’m David, you’re Star, so we’re no longer strangers.” He walked over to his bike and climbed on. “Are you coming?”
“I still have to…” unable to finish, she gestured up the street, where several other girls stood, in various states of undress, smoking and smiling at the curb-crawlers. She was nowhere near making enough money to cover her rent, let alone provide food, but she was sorely tempted to go along. There was something entrancing about his eyes.
“Another time, maybe?” he asked and roared off, before she was able to make another comment.