Friday, 16 October 2009 - 11:46 pm

A little piece of me

After yesterday’s realisation, I’ve been walking in a fugue of uncertainty. I couldn’t decide what to think next, about anything, which leant the world an unreal feel. I caught myself trailing fingertips over objects as if checking their solidity.

It was the perfect night for the girls to tell me it was my turn to entertain the men. In the dark hours after the rain, three of them came to my bunk: Nadine, a young woman with a scar marring her left cheek; Lavinia, showing each of her sixty-some years in tough-tanned lines and crow’s feet; and the matronly woman who called herself Mama Prusco. Ranged behind them, and listening more than they were letting on, were the rest of the women.

Their message was simple. I had been in Haven long enough to know how and why things work. I had had my chance to settle in and take advantage of the gifts available here. Now it was time to give back and take part in the things that make Haven work.

I almost laughed in their faces. I almost asked them if they knew that Haven was barely working at all and there would come a time when all their offered comfort wouldn’t save them. It was tempting; I wanted to tear all of it down. I wanted to show the bones of what they were protecting, harsh and bare.

I had to clamp my jaw shut to stop the words from falling out. I knew I’d say too much of all the wrong things. I let them talk, I let them start to explain to me how it wasn’t that bad – the men were grateful and usually very considerate. I could have fun, too. They had no idea at all.

“I understand what you’re doing,” I said at last. It was enough to make them stop and listen. “And I admire your courage for being able to do it. But I can’t. I’m sorry, but the answer is no.”

They weren’t used to being refused so firmly, or so calmly. They had been expecting histrionics but I couldn’t bring myself to be that upset about it. I didn’t want to do it when I thought Haven meant something, and there was no way I was going to give up that part of myself for a lie.

Besides, I had something – someone – better.

They started to argue with me. I told them no, and then Jersey came over and told them to back off. That prompted Mama Prusco to turn to the girl in the next bunk over from mine and ask if she was finally ready. That’s when I got angry with them.

Iona, the girl in the next bunk, is of an indeterminate age between sixteen and twenty-five. Something broke in her when the bombs went off, leaving her unhinged from the world and vague in her responses. She smiles easily and wishes she had flowers to tuck into our hair, we’d look so pretty. Last night, she was murmuring to herself about a field of glass and the pretty flowers when Mama Prusco turned to her.

I got in the way and so did Jersey. Iona barely understood a simple question; she certainly couldn’t understand what was going on with the men and it was cruel to try. Putting her in that position would be rape.

Nadine blamed me. If I would just go along and do my duty, then they wouldn’t need to ask Iona. I wasn’t going to let them bully or blackmail me into it, and I told them so in short, sharp words. If she was so regretful, she could go pleasure the men herself. Jersey looked like she wanted to punch one of them in the face; I think if they had pushed any further, she would have.

The trio backed down and grumbled off to find another ‘volunteer’. I checked on Tia to find that she had been wise enough to make herself scarce while they were looking. The wariness in her glance makes me wonder if she wasn’t always so quick to hide from this; it was a little too knowing for my liking.


Part of me wonders if I’m being foolish. Is this really something to get so wound up about? But the thought of doing what they want me to do makes my stomach roll over uncomfortably. And then there’s Matt. I just can’t find a good reason to do it and plenty to make me say no.

I don’t know who they took in my place. I think they’ll ask me again tonight if they find me. I’m in the back cupboard here, posting instead.

Screw them. Screw their deal and their hungry men. I’m not going to give in to their pressure. They’re not having a piece of me or my friends, not if I can help it.