Tiffany got into a schedule. She passes around like a toy by these sick men. She liked Tiny. He would never have sex with her. He would let her sleep on the floor with a blanket. The first night in his room, he told her:
“I don’t fuck little kids.”
A rush of relief fell over her body. She made money, but all she had to do was sleep on the floor. Those nights she would hold her teddy bear and try to fall asleep the best she could.
She always had problems in the middle of the night. Nightmares in her subconscious made one afraid. It made her feel as though the end of her world was crashing down. She would wake up sweating, and sometimes she yelled from having a bad dream.
When she did that, they would usually yell at her and tell her to “shut the fuck up”. Even Tiny did that. He may not have sex with her, but he hated when she had terrible dreams.
Then he would hit her. To make her stop and leave him alone. Just because he had her in his room and did not do anything besides hit her, he snored—all night long. Without fail, he would sound like two beavers chewing a tree.
“Chomp. Chomp. Chomp.” he would roar.
They let her go to school, but that costed money, so they took it from Candice’s “loan”.
Thirty dollars a week.
They did not want anyone to know something was going on, so they tried to mask it well. No one would notice anything different.
Tiffany still did not have any friends.
The school was scared of Candice so that no one would ask.
It was just as though everything was back to normal. The only thing different was the bruises on the face.
Yellow, blue, and purple like the colors from a small child’s crayon pack.
“Look, the junkie’s mom is not sharing her drugs, and she is falling!” the other kids were saying to her.
Tiffany was getting smaller. Like a skeleton. They did not give her much food, and she did not want to overeat. They would charge her more money, and then she would have to “work” even longer.
“Look at her! Her legs are all hairy!” the other girls would say as she wore shorts for gym class. Long black hairs started to grow on her once white legs. She began to look like a middle-aged man. It was uncomfortable, and she did not want to stand out anymore.
She noticed that Carl and Slim started to get less interested in her when she began to grow hair on her body. They began to lose interest when her flat chest began to grow into small hills.
She was becoming a teenager. Puberty. Something most kids perhaps look forward to in the way that they are growing up and becoming adults.
Candice looked forward to it because they started to be disgusted by her, and the “attacks” started to become more and more infrequent.
She had her thirteenth birthday a month ago. It was celebrated by them all taking turns with her in the same room, Carl’s room. She laid there with her back up in the air. She dreamed of the time her grandmother had bought her the cake with the store-bought invitations.
She would have much rather had had a party no one had attended.
Tears formed in her eyes. They could not see her as her body moved up and down on the bed. This time she did not have to “just take it”. She could let go a little bit.
The past couple of months, Tiffany started to break down. She thought more and more about killing herself. She learned about writers and poets that had killed themselves and wanted to be like them.
Heads in the gas oven.
Cars turned in garages.
“If I had a car, I would rent one of those storage places and turn it on.” she used to dream.
Then she realized she had no money. Carl and his gang had all the money.
One day Carl came in with a razor and told her to “shave it all off”.
Here is her big chance. She could use the razor on her wrists, and it would be all over.
She ran her finger over her wrist but then started to think:
“What if I fail? They will get pissed off and beat her more.”
So she shaved instead. The razor was full of small hairs that got stuck between the blades. The dripping of blood because she didn’t know how to do it right.
“Come out here!” Carl yelled at her.
She strolled out of the bathroom. Legs filled with blood as she stood there nude in facing the three men.
“Can you do anything right?” he said as his open hand slapped her face.
Tifanny reached her hand over her bruise and felt the sting of pain over pain.
She wanted to cry.
She wished she had used the razor after all.
“We have a new market for you, Tiffany,” Carl and Slim said as they laughed with beer cans in their hands.
“Put this over your bruise,” he said while handing her some skin-colored cream.
She went back into the bathroom and looked at herself.
“What is a new market?” she thought out loud in a tiny whisper.
She could hear voices outside the door.
It was Tiny, Slim and Carl.
“We have to stop hitting the bitch.” Carl said, “It’s bad for business.”
They agreed. “Yeah.” came out in unison as though they were a gospel choir on Sunday mass.
Tiffany touched the bruise with the makeup. She could feel the pain, and it reminded her of how a boxer must feel when their trainer puts ice on a fighter during a fight.
It hurts like hell.
Tiffany walked out the door, looking down at the floor.
Carl lifted her head by pulling the back of her long black hair.
“What do you think, guys?” Carl said as Tiny and Stretch nodded their heads in approval.
“Put this on,” Slim said as he handed her some red lace panties.
“Your first customer will be here any second,” Slim said. “You can use my room as your office.
Tiffany wondered what they were talking about as she sat on the corner of the bed, looking around the room.
“Two Thousand Seven Hundred and Thirty Dollars.” she thought.
She had been keeping track. She wasn’t going to let them make her suffer any longer than that..”