I'm sure every writer has had a character just walk completely randomly into their head and beg to be written before. That is exactly what happened to me with this vignette. I kept hearing the voice of a tormented woman inside of me, screaming to be heard. And who was I to refuse?

In the Bed That She Made

As always, it took her a few moments upon waking to realize where she was. She propped herself up gingerly on her elbows and waited for the diluting fog of sleep to clear, staring into the darkness with the lost feeling of a child who does not remember where she has fallen asleep. She breathed an inward sigh of relief as the shadows formed themselves into the familiar shapes of her small dingy apartment. She reached to brush a strand of hair from her eyes. It was sweaty and wild, a still riled-up reminder of the previous night. She irritably pushed it from her face, willing the memory away with it.

She smelled of sex. The realization made her wince. It was as if she could smell her own desperation, rising in a stagnant cloud around her. Her body would never let her forget. Her client last night had been a rough one. She had known he would be from the moment his large unforgiving shadow had passed over her small exposed body. But she did not resist. Every broken bird of a girl had to live somehow. So she tucked his money into her bra, closed her eyes, and hoped the same thing she had hoped for all her life: that she would be proven wrong. She wasn't. As always. He had treated her like the piece of meat she was to him, cutting into her and spitting her out.

She shifted herself experimentally. Her body throbbed dully. Worse even than the feeling of his harsh hands claiming her anonymous body was the smell of alcohol on his breath. She had never been able to stand alcohol or the memories it forced, burning, down her throat. But she has steeled herself against the feeling of his acrid breath on her neck and forced herself not to think of his body secreting the angry liquid all over hers. She had felt the usual screams and sounds of revulsion explode inside her head, but as usual, she let none escape to the surface. It paid to be a good actress. Literally.

She pulled a ragged sheet to herself as if she could hide the foreign yet nauseatingly familiar aroma of the cheap desolation she knew she had created for herself beneath it. Learning to sleep in the bed that she made, so to speak. She wished the bitter irony of the expression didn't sting so much. She rubbed at a fresh stain on the bare showy lingerie that made her into someone she didn't recognize. She wondered why she even bothered when she knew some stains would never come away. Like the one on her soul.

She rubbed her eyes wearily. A heavy black glob of eyeliner came away on her hand, smudged by tears she hadn't even known she had cried. It scared her that she had gotten so good at fooling everyone else that she could deceive herself now too. She had thought by now she would be used to it all, but in those small hours of the morning, she admitted to herself that she never, never would be.

Pulling her bony legs to herself, she let herself wish vaguely, uselessly. That her body would be her own. That the stains, the smells, and the scars would fade into the dusk. That she would feel alive, whatever that meant. That she would at least have the assurance of knowing where she would wake up each morning. She ignored the protests of her body, something she was used to doing, and heaved herself up from the bare mattress. With a heavy sigh, she shooed away the dreams she held on to like fireflies, before they could scatter of their own accord and leave her alone, as she knew they would. They always did.

She flung aside the moth-eaten curtains and let the morning light shine in. Her arms out slightly, she bathed herself in the light as if her bare shoulders could absorb its warm security and save it for the night, when she needed it. Eyes half shut, she made a valiantly useless attempt to let the morning sun wash away the previous night and all the ones before it, while she was at it. And despite herself, a small smile tickled her full crimson lips and she stared straight into the light defiantly, making the green flecks in her dark eyes dance like sparks flying from a fire. And despite herself, she felt something inside her lift in the face of the new day.