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It has rained, and gold-glistened streets poorly ape the dark canals where reflected light ripples.
Past dimly lit coffee bars and bright bakeries they wander; mother, eighteen year old daughter and son of sixteen, to the twilight tourist trap that they must not miss.
”You have to go there,” everyone had said.
They pass eerie side alleys where sinister cowled characters, almost concealed by the black shadows that they cast, furtively pass packages into desperate hands.
On canal bridges men lean, their bodies casually speaking of threat.
Turning back towards the crowds, plump pink skin glows warmly under the red light of the woman’s glass fronted display case, as on a high stool she sits in uniform.
Her face is artfully painted and powdered to conceal her personality and leave you guessing about her age.
The mother looks sadly at this carefully illuminated package of sex.
The boy, uncomfortable, turns away from the brazen colours and bland cosmetic artfulness.
The girl is captivated, and seeing beauty where there is none, envies the caged meat, and speaks.
”She’s lovely. I would like to be a prostitute.”
Words lightly spoken and shrugged off, dismissed as a silly passing thought, when, alarmed, her mother voices disaproval.
She walks monochromatic pavements beneath a matching sky which reflects the grey ache inside her head. The muffled sounds of cars passing in the rain goes unnoticed.
All those years ago, in Amsterdam, it was the idea of being an exhibit in a window that had appealed to her. She would not have wished to sell her body for sex.
Along the side of the road she walks, stands beside a lamp-post, walks, stands beside a lamp-post.
She has to raise enough money for a bag of heroin to heal her until evening falls and the pain returns.
© Jane Paterson Basil