Katherine trudged up the stairs, bruised and bloody,
With her lacy white dress torn and stained with alcohol.
But this sight was as common as the sunrise in the morning.
She reached for the knob of her shared-apartment,
But the door opened as its other inhabitant, her lover, William, pulled her inside.
His gaze was tender, and full of pity.
Almost like how a child looks at a bird with a broken wing, she mused.
And so began tonight's repetition of "The Argument".
They had gone through the scene so many times, night after night, that one might think they were rehearsing for a big show.
It went like this:
William opens the show, asking softly, "How many men tonight?" while Katherine replies with an exasperated "5". The number may vary, depending on how many girls had shifts during the night.
The scene continues as he brushes her tears away, muttering,
"You come home every night like this, bruised and in a disarray, with the smell of the drink and other men lingered to your skin.
You leave looking your best,
But return with your hair in tangles and makeup smeared. Why, I can still see some of their handprints on your cheek.
Don’t they know you’re there for their pleasure,
And not to help them practice for a boxing match?" He crescendoed as he continued his part, anger taking over his mind.
Wondering why he won’t understand, she always retorts back,
“My job is to provide pleasure, no matter what they prefer! If they enjoy being violent, then I must be their victim.
The most basic refusal,
Whether it be saying “No” or merely shaking my head, means I lose my job!”
He comes up with the same fruitless solution,
With a suggestion of “Find another job. One where you’ll be safe, and where no man but I will hold you.”
Her voice lowers, knowing he’s trying to help,
And she brushes the hair from his eyes, as she whispers,“You and I both know that no other company accepts women, and pays remotely as much.
I need this job, and you need yours.
I’ll quit, as soon as we have enough money to buy a home far from here.” This scene they practice so well ends here.
In the shambling walls of their apartment,
With the smell of her cheap perfume in the air. A jar filled with their earnings hides in the corner, holding not only their money, but their bottled dreams.
But, they only have a few more nights
To prepare for the big show. Because Katherine seems to becoming ill. Her skin is forever rosy with fever, her eyes are clouded, and she’s forgetting many things. But never her job.
She couldn't forget that even if she wanted to.
William notices that she’s unwell, but waves it off as a cold from a client. He was partially right, but it’s no cold.
They didn’t know it, but the big show finally came.
The Argument was like never before. But, the next morning, William realized they didn’t have to perform it ever again. Katherine never woke up the next morning for work.
Had to put on that stale perfume and cake-frosting makeup ever again.
Realizing she had, in a sense,
Gone to a better home far from here without him,William poured her perfume and oils around the apartment floor.
Leaning against the wall,
He glanced at the broken jar of their bottled dreams, money scattered around the room. Then, he dropped the lit match, and joined Katherine in their new home in the heavens.