The city bleeds lights into the black of the sky, blurring and blurring with the stars till it all looks the same. From my balcony, I could see them so clearly. Blindingly bright. False hope in a world of lies and pain. Broken homes lined the streets of New York City. I wondered who rested inside, who was kissing their children goodnight, and who was throwing empty bottles against the wall in a desperate agony.
From the dressing room, I could see nothing but my own reflection. She was staring back at me through the make-up smudged mirror, all innocent demure and seductive allure. The perfect combination. Black hair framed the alabaster face almost too flawlessly. Glitter surrounded the deep pools of blue from which she might gaze out. It was hard to convince myself she was really me.
"Annika!" Then came the shouting, the pounding on the door. It was a harsh voice, roughened by the months of cigarette companion nights. It was a wistful sortof sigh that tumbled off my plush lips as I opened it, revealing a blonde who filled her role better than I could even dream of doing. In black leather boots and a blood red corset, she was dressed to kill. My own outfit consisted of white stilettos and a deep blue lingerie set. One that offset my eyes. One that dragged attention to me by the hair.
"It's five to," Sarah said, retrieving her bag and frantically digging through. Looking for her cigarettes, I was certain. We all had our little outs. When she held one out to me, I took it because it was just one of those things. Once you've given everything away, death doesn't seem so bad. Even a drawn out one caused by the few cigarettes I happened to smoke.
"How's the floor look?" I asked. Those were the questions that went with a place like this. If business was good, it went a lot faster. Dancing, moving along to the beats and the sultry lights, wasn't so bad. When they took you by the hand into the back room, it got complicated. Sarah had told me once you just had to close your eyes, and never let it become personal. When you let them in, that's when the spiral started.
Sarah shrugged, ashing right onto the floor. "It's alright for now. I'm hoping it'll get busier."
I nodded like I was too, even though I was longing for the opposite. The fear had started up already, a creeping feeling that spread from the pit of my stomach to my chest. Maybe it was just the smoke getting to me. I hoped it was, at least, or this night was only getting worse. Six hours wasn't so bad. The money was good, the drinks were free... Sarah offered me a smile, one it hurt to return.
"Ready?" She asked, giving herself one last glance in the mirror. I did the same. Slut, my inner voice whispered.
Every day was a canvas. This was not what I wanted to see.