Coming across a stranger standing at the side of the road, the vagabond was apprehensive as to what was about to happen. Yet she found herself strangely attracted to the unknown person in front of her, even before any word was spoken.
“Hey, little girl…” she heard the silhouette called out to her.
Lifting her head a little, she peered through her mop of hair, trying to make out the face of her caller without revealing much of hers yet she couldn’t see them clearly. She was certain it was a woman; the scent that had attracted her and the husky voice didn’t seem to belong to a man.
A mixture of citrus and woodland – that was the scent that wafted around her, evoking images of fresh, dewy earth in her mind yet the lingering scent of tobacco was quite seductive. It heightened her senses and left her pulse racing. Lost in a forest of unknown feelings, she had completely forgotten about the woman that still stood in front of her.
“Are you lost?” the woman’s voice penetrated her thoughts.
She lifted her head now and was instantaneously captivated by a pair of large brown eyes. The eyes held hers longer than most usually would and though she knew it should have made her feel uncomfortable, she was actually fascinated. She was dimly aware that the woman in front of her was quite tall compared to her as she had to lift her head up a little to make eye contact. The woman’s dark hair curled around her chest, which was slightly showing through the blue dinner dress that she wore.
A small, thin necklace hung around her the woman’s neck, with a tiny silver ring dangling on it as a pendant. She wondered suddenly if the ring was gifted to the woman.
One of the woman’s sharply shaped eyebrow rose slightly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to stare.”
The woman laughed.
“You’re quite intriguing, you know? I did wonder why you were staring at me such a way. From the way you look, you don’t seem to be from this part of the town. What are you doing here at this hour?”
She had been asked this question by many people by now and every single time this question cropped out, she would find some sort of excuse to move away or would just say a quick lie before escaping from the situation. This time however, she was surprised to find herself wanting to answer the woman’s question truthfully.
“I don’t know.”
“What do you mean? Surely you came from somewhere?”
She fished something out from her pocket, the size of a small card and handed it out.
“I woke up in one of the alleys with nothing but that.”
The woman took the item from her; it was an identification card. She gawked at it, completely surprised.
“But this place is more than a million miles away from here!”
“That’s why I’ve been walking around the streets. I have no idea how I got here or any recollection of what I’m doing here. If it wasn’t for that card, I wouldn’t even know my name or age.”
The woman’s gaze travelled across her body this time, taking in every inch of her appearance. A slight flush made way up her cheeks. She suddenly felt a slight feeling of apprehension.
“Maybe I should get going …” she began but was cut off immediately.
“Nonsense! You’re not going anywhere at this hour, looking like that. Plus despite what’s written on this card, I don’t believe for a moment that you’re twenty-two. That’s barely six years younger than me, and yet you look so fragile and vulnerable. I’m surprised that you’re still in one piece.” Catching the look that just passed her face, the woman continued, “Oh, so you’ve barely managed to survive?”
She fidgeted under the woman’s piercing, questioning gaze.
“I’ve been on the streets for a few days now, so yes, I know what you’re talking about. Yet I managed to survive; if I can do it before, I’m sure I can do it after this.”
“Well, maybe you can. You can try to continue surviving on the streets by yourself, or you can follow me to where I live and then decide what you want to do with your life.”
“I… I’m not sure what I want to do. I’m just tired at the moment and I need to keep moving to find a place for shelter before the rain starts again.”
“Well then, you can take shelter at my place. Come on, what do you think you’ve got to lose? You’ll only end up getting a warm place to sleep at night and probably something decent to eat.”
When she remained passive, the woman huffed out an impatient breath.
“Alright then. I’ll leave you to your own ways. I have better things to do with my time than standing here talking to you all night long.”
“Wait, wait a minute please!” she begged as the woman started walking away.
The woman turned and looked at her, tapping her heels impatiently against the wet pavement.
“Is it okay for me to come with you? Wouldn’t anyone else say anything?” she asked.
“Oh, Anna,” the woman sighed, startling her with the use of her name. “You are a bit naïve, aren’t you? Look at how I’m dressed, at such an hour. Can’t you guess what’s my profession by now and where’d I’d be living?”
Anna looked at her carefully this time yet she still couldn’t make it out. She didn’t understand; all she saw was a beautiful woman in a casual dinner dress and dark, thin heels. The look of confusion was so obvious on her face that the woman sighed again.
“Anna, I work in a brothel. I’m a prostitute.”