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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hannah’s Dream

"All… most… there,” he said, grunting into her ear.

She clenched her teeth fighting the urge to vomit. This was the final payment necessary. Just this one last time.

With a guttural moan he at last rolled off her body.

"Was it worth it Hannah?” he asked, his meaty hand still groping at her. He seldom called her by name, preferring instead horrid little nicknames that made her ache inside. Hannah curled on her side moving away from his sweaty hand.

Was it worth it? Such a question to ask after extracting such a payment. But Hannah would not allow herself the luxury of regret now. She had made the final payment and now it was hers.

Hannah moved from the bed and into the tiny bathroom. A small trickle of brown water was all that came from the rusted faucet. She splashed her face and then ran the small grimy towel under the water. She knew she couldn’t get truly clean, but it was enough just to scrub his stench from her skin.

"So are you really sure it’s worth the risk? Why do you want it so bad?” he yelled at her from the bed.

That was all she could take. She had paid him in full; the very idea of having to explain herself to him made her nearly as sick as the act she had just submitted herself to.

"Don’t, don’t you dare, ask me these things you man. Is it worth the risk?” she said as she buttoned her worn dress glaring at him. "Don’t you for a moment think I don’t know the risk. I know all too well, torture, death, or worse. Yes, men will always think of something worse. As for why I want it? How could I ever begin to explain that to you.” Hannah spat at him as he lay there; flaccid, fat, sweaty, man. "I paid you well for it. I paid for your silence too. It is mine now, and I want it."

"Fine, go take it. It’s out there on the shelf, one of the few left in the territory. I suppose you’ve earned it,” he said, tugging up his trouser, but not bothering to fasten them. He followed her into the main room, and watched as she took it from the shelf. She clutched it to her chest. Her excitement at owning such a treasure caused her to become almost lightheaded. She made her way to the cash register.

"Put your mark here, so I know it is paid for in full. Here, sign here, that I have paid you.” Hannah thrust the worn bit of paper that he had marked with her debt just over a month ago.

"Why you want to keep the receipt? That’s just more proof of your disregard for the laws. They can track this you know?” He snatched for the scrap of paper, but Hannah held it tight, pointing to where she wanted his signature.

"I won’t ever be coming back, but you mark it none the less. That way we both know this is paid for. I paid your price. I want you to sign!”

He licked his lips and sneered at her, but did as she asked, putting his big black letters on the little bit of paper with its unintelligible scribbles that he had used to claim her body.

Hannah turned away from him then. She made her way out of the dank store and into the street, breathing deeply the cold air of life. The setting sun provided no warmth for her as she stepped over the rubble and trash that littered the broken sidewalk. As quick as she could she made her way through the maze of alleys and back streets towards her small home.

"You, you there, girl. You there, stop!” Came the order from behind her. Hannah tried not to scream in surprise and sudden dread. She turned and watched the two uniformed men descend from the end of the alley towards her.

"Where are you going so fast little one?” The taller of the two asked.

"Home, Sir. I know I have broken curfew, but really I couldn’t help it Sir, really."

"You know you are not allowed out without a man as escort after the final bell.”

The smaller, weasely looking of the two said, poking at her with his night-weapon for emphasis.

"I know Sir. That’s why I was hurrying. I only live there, just up there.” Hannah pointed to the crumbling brick building that loomed next to them.

"What is your classification girl?"

"I am F14, Sir."

"Let me see your papers.”

Hannah struggled to keep her purchase tucked under her arm, beneath her dress, as she fumbled in her pocket for her papers. She thrust them at the two holding her breath. They hadn’t noticed she was hiding something, yet.

"It says here you’ll be ready for service next month. See right here, where it shows your birthday. You’ll be ready to be military issue then.” The weasely one lifted her chin with his night-weapon, his lecherous look made Hannah’s skin crawl. "It also says here you live across the city. Look here, read that address.”

Hannah dropped her eyes, wondering if they could smell her terror. "I can’t, Sir. Please you know I can’t. But, I know the address is wrong. We were forced to move in the last bombing, no new papers have been issued."

"Of course you can’t read it. And that is the way it will stay now that we have taken charge. Stupid illiterate women are only good for one thing, now.” Then to Hannah’s relief he said, "Go on. But don’t think I won’t remember your name and request you special. In just a month, little Hannah."

The two sentries laughed at her as she hurried away. She knew she had been luckier than most. Such encounters usually resulted in rape or often worse. Even though the military were provided with as many fifteen year old girls as they wanted, most still thought it was their right to take by force any strays they found on the street.

Hannah locked the door behind her after at least reaching the safety of home. "Momma, I have it. This is the key Momma.” Hannah dropped onto the floor next her mother, who sat silently in the worn chair, the only piece of furniture in the room. She looked up into her mother’s once beautiful face. Hannah opened it for the first time then, and solemnly traced the letters on the page. "S, see I know that is an S, Momma. It says, ‘See Jane run.’” Hannah struggled to sound out the precious words that Momma had tried to teach her using only dust and her finger so many years ago now. But that was before they had taken Momma’s eyes, eyes that had been taught to read before the annexation. Now Momma only had empty, sunken sockets where her pretty blue eyes had once been. But Hannah knew now she would learn, and she would read to Momma. Yes, she would learn, then she would teach others, and with knowledge they would fight, fight and win back their freedom. This was Hannah’s dream, something she would sacrifice everything for. Hannah read on, ‘See Jane run. Run Jane run.’


adlibby said...

oh... a shiver up my spine. Well done!

Diane said...

heavy. and very well written. can we look forward to further installments...?

Sullivan McPig said...

Very beautiful and sad

Jen said...

I quite literally have goosebumps.