I woke up on my back, with no idea where I was. I felt the heat of the sun on my face before I even opened my eyes, and when I finally did, I wished I hadn’t. My head pounded, my nose was both stuffy and runny. My body felt battered without even moving a muscle, and I felt what must be depression for the first time in my life.
I was naked and cold, even in the warmth of focused sunlight. Dried semen flaked from my skin like sugar from a glazed donut as I ran my hands down my front, though I wouldn’t realize that’s what it was for a few more moments. I winced at the soreness between my legs when I shifted my weight onto my side. Everything down there was sore, on the verge of throbbing. I could feel the redness without seeing it, it was like sandpaper against raw nerves. What had happened the night before? I couldn’t think clearly through the white haze of a splitting headache, but slowly it would come back to me.
I was here for a job. I knew that much, that there was money owed to me, but how did it end this way? I couldn’t imagine agreeing to something that would leave me in this kind of shape when it was all over, but I guess I did. Lately, I’d done a few things I didn’t think I was capable of, maybe this was another. I grew up suspicious of everyone around me and not taking many chances, but starting with the decision to leave home nine months ago, that all was changing now. I was a high school dropout working two jobs just to help my Dad keep the roof over our heads, my boyfriend Jon arranged through a relative for a well-paying job far away from where we lived. I didn’t question how he made that happen, I was just happy that he’d found a way out. A day after he got the news, we sat outside and talked about the promise of his new opportunity.
‘Baby, It’s our opportunity,’ he said, fixing me with a rare eye-to-eye gaze. I recognized it as my chance to escape: from a run-down neighborhood of a run-down city, from two low-pay jobs and a thankless Dad and roommate, from my life as I understood it, nearly devoid of real hope. Suddenly I had hope. Jon was my fire escape, and I took it right out of town.