At the time it seemed like a great idea. Emily and I thought what we were doing was exciting, adventurous, and we couldn’t wait to get out of this town. That night we spontaneously decided to do what we’d been talking about for months. Whenever my dad comes home late from work he smells like lavender and citrus from a shower, he has probably taken at her house, to get rid of the smell of sex that would have lingered on him otherwise. I’ll be sitting in my room, like always, and as soon as I hear his car door close I can predict the exact sounds that will happen next. The front door opens and closes and you hear his shoes hit the floor as he takes them off and throws them in the closet. My moms voice then filters in from somewhere and she asks him why he always stays so late at work and his response is so nonchalant anyone else would have been convinced that he’s an honest hardworking man.
I’d think: Here we go again.
The worst nights are the ones where he doesn’t come home at all. My mom will sit downstairs all night and drink red wine. The glass never seems to leave her lips. She just sits there drinking and listening for the front door and the familiar routine that we all know so well. It’s like she can’t function if that typical night doesn’t happen. If Emily or I try to talk to her or get her to go to sleep she throws her wine glass at us and tells us to get to bed because school is in the morning. It doesn’t matter to her if it’s a Friday or not; then she gets up and gets another wine glass out of the cabinet. After my dad comes home just as the sun is rising and they play out their roles, he’ll go to bed and she’ll clean up the wine glass and then everyday is just as normal as the rest. That night they’re discussion was more escalated than normal. Emily came into my room and we sat on my bed and read Cosmo magazines until she looked at me and said “lets do it.” I knew she was serious but I asked her anyway “are you sure?” All she said was “Is anyone ever sure of anything?”
I thought: This is really happening. I can’t wait to get out of here and start a new life.
Then we both silently packed a backpack of clothes and grabbed the money we’ve been hiding under our mattresses for the past couple months and waited. My dad came home a little after 5 in the morning by 6 he and my mom were over it and asleep and the new day, where the night before has been forgotten, began. Today was different though, while my parents slept, Emily and I got in the car we shared and drove North. We drove as far away from Riverview, Georgia as possible and didn’t stop until we were somewhere in the middle of plain old Ohio.
I thought: The further, the better.
How we ended up here isn’t important. All I think about is how could I have been so stupid. I’m the older one I should have known better than to let a truck driver drive us here from West Virginia where our car broke down. Maybe we should have taken my dad or mom’s car since we both knew that ours was a piece of shit. I used to blame my dad; if he didn’t cheat on my mom then she wouldn’t be the way she is and we wouldn’t hate being at home and wouldn't have ran away. But I know its my fault, we should have walked, ran away from him, anything. Just because someone tells you that he has daughters who look just like you and offers to pay for your food at a diner does not mean that he’s a good person and that he’s just giving you a lift.
I thought: He seems like a real family man.
I should have known. I look over at Emily sleeping, but having nightmares, and barely wearing any clothing. She’s lying close to the edge of her cage so I reach my fingers through the bars and stroke her hair... “I’m so sorry.” She can’t hear me but I know she’ll never forgive me for what I have done to us. I gave her the idea, sure it was a joke, but I put that spark into her that got her hopes up and now here we are. I attempt to sleep, knowing that soon he’ll come in to get one of us or the other 8 girls that are here.
I thought: This is all my fault.
Everytime I look at them I want to cry, especially the girl that's barely 9. How did these girls end up here. Nothing at home could be as bad as being here. What was I thinking? I look around the place we’re in for the thousandth time. It’s always dark in here, so our pupils are always dilated so that we can see. I think we’re in some warehouse, with cages along the back wall, a few couches, boxes full of what probably is drugs, and a door all the way on the other side. I’ve thought of escaping countless times but once a girl made a run for it and they beat her for hours afterwards. When she got back into her cage her nose was broke and she was covered in blood for days until they finally let her clean herself up. I’m too weak to escape anyway.
I thought: I’ll never get out of here.
Just as I start drifting off he walks in. They call him Damien. Every girl in the room wakes up and scurries to the back of their cage. He walks along them as if he’s looking for something specific and I know we’re all afraid that it’s us. He picks Emily.
I thought: Thank God it’s not me.
I immediately feel like the worst person in the world, filled with regret at what I just thought. How could I be happy it’s her and not me when I’m the reason we’re both here. Tears fall from my eyes as he pulls her out from her cage and she no longer resists anymore. “No, take me!” I shout at him, hoping to change his mind but he just kicks my cage, acts of heroism means nothing here.
I thought: I deserve this.
He pauses and looks at me for a split second I think I see him changing his mind about her, but then just as quickly as I think it he walks away with my sister. I have hope he’ll still change his mind and come back but I know I’m just looking at a door that’s chained and won’t open for 63 minutes. When Emily returns she climbs back into her cage and seems to fall right back asleep as if nothing has happened.
I thought: It must be the drugs.
The next time Damien came he picked me. I willingly came out of the cage, just like Emily, because this being the 14th time I’ve been pulled from this cage, I’ve lost all the fight in me. At this point, I just want to go home. Anywhere is better than this. Sometimes I wonder if my parents noticed we’ve left. Are they looking for us? Does my dad take time from his busy schedule of work and banging his secretary to comfort my mom? Is he looking for us? Did they even call the police? But all of these thoughts soon leave my mind as I’m escorted into a car door being held open for me by a driver. I slide in next to a tall man with a look of hunger in his eyes. My short skirt revealing my legs as he puts his hand on one like an invitation. I smile, unwillingly accepting the invitation, and a tear slides down my cheek but he doesn’t notice. They never do. He just smiles, that look still in his eyes, and says “So, you’re Summer.”
I thought: Not anymore.