I have sex in a dark room without fans. A room filled with cigarette smoke and the smell of tobacco mixed with the rank stench of beer and vomit, heavy in the air, waiting to settle down on our bare bodies like dust in an old storeroom. I lie there on the hard plank thinking about nothing, just hearing the rhythmic squeaking of the rusted iron springs. I am sore. I can’t get used to the pain searing through me, ripping apart my insides. I have lost count of the number of times they come and go. I only register the pain hitting my limp body like endless waves of the sea crashing ashore. I’m painfully numb. But now and then I can feel it. Sudden excrutiating pains bright against a dim backdrop. Like the cigarette stub burning an angry hot scar on my neck. After he has finished with me, he pulls his pants up, I can hear the zipper’s slight protest, then he picks his shirt and leaves. I lie there awhile longer staring at nothing in the black darkness. The dark comforts me, like a warm blanket it envelops me in it’s loving caress. I hesitate to get out of the bed. I feel the sheets with my palm and it’s damp; damp with blood. My blood. Thick, warm and sticky under my prodding fingers. I waddle out of the bed and drag myself sluggishly towards the bathroom; the broken tub inside it is half filled with water left over from the afternoon. That should do. I shout for a bucket of hot water to be fetched from downstairs. It costs me a few coins. That’s the cost of my new life after the break of dawn. A little girl in two long plaits brings in my hot water and pours it noisily into the tub. Water spills on the floor. I hear it splash and I stare at the ripples before putting my feet inside it, and slowly sinking in. The warmth bites into my flesh, the cigarette burn stings at the touch of hot water. But it’s nice. I close my eyes to absorb the heat with all my senses. It makes me feel alive. I breathe in the musty smell of hot water and blood while the steam rises up to meet the cloud of tobacco smoke left by the day’s visitors. The darkness is gradually dispersing, soft sunlight creeping in through the window shades. And finally, I am freefalling into the realm of sleep.


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