There’s No Prize for Good Girls

Liberty Inn, Room 42

Once alone, you wedge a cigarette in your mouth, the room still your domain for the next fifteen minutes. Because it’s paid for the hour. Because you deserve it.

Like every Thursday, loose change hitting the glass ashtray chimed the start of your forty-five minutes together, because even if he was there to fuck in a seedy motel he still had to carefully drape his trousers over the back of the chair first.

Told you his name was Mike, but you’d peeked at the driver’s licence in his wallet, his lie on display, tucked next to the picture of his wife and kids.

Because he always wanted it the same way you knelt in the space he’d created for you – the parting of the pasty flesh he called his thighs. Ready to receive him you looked up and opened wide; his gaze lifted to the ceiling. As you took his warmth in your mouth your knees pushed against the boxers bunched around his ankles, and you wondered if his wife ironed them for him.

Because he’d told you once, I don’t love her anymore, but you’ve never believed any words men say whenever some part of them is inside you.

As you swallow the smoke, your lungs constrict around it like the orgasm they never give you. Your free hand dives under the line of your underwear, brushing the soft flesh apart – they always prefer their women smooth like girls.

As you wipe your fingers on the covers afterwards, the face of Mike’s wife floats in your mind with her pinched smile and fifty-dollar haircut, who does everything right and still ends up with a husband who opens his legs for you once a week. Because if there’s no prize for good girls then promiscuity is a legit money-maker.

What do we say, Mallory?

It’s a hundred bucks. For ten more, I’ll call you Daddy…

*

Girls Bathroom, Lincoln High

Amid the smack of lips slick with reapplied gloss, Janine and Kelly called you a slut, knowing you sat in the locked stall behind them.

Because last week you’d slouched on the fake leather sofa in Scott Delano’s basement among all the toys to entertain teenage boys – giant TV, PlayStation, weight bench, booze. Because you’d drunk from a bottle of vodka which had travelled between you, him and two of his friends. You didn’t really know Scott, he was your brother’s friend, but it’d sounded cool when he invited you to hang out. You just hadn’t expected the other two.

Because the bottle always swung back to you too quickly, because the vodka was too warm, and because the world of the basement shrank with every sip until all that was left was the sofa on which somehow all four of you were slumping on. Because you leaned in to reach and the sag of your low-cut top smiled at them.

What do we say, Mallory?

Because the words, stodgy with alcohol, stuck to the roof of your mouth. Because they hadn’t asked so you’d never had a chance to say no. Like the dummy in that first aid class last month, you were just a warm body to practise the porn they’d watched on their computers. Because saying no isn’t a long enough word anyway to capture the attention of teenage boys.

Because you’d been drowning inside the blaring hits from MTV, you’d tethered yourself to a crack slithering across the ceiling, a fault line amid the earthquake. Maybe if you were lucky, the shocks from their inexperience would collapse the ceiling, bury you under rubble. Because you were never that lucky, the ceiling stayed put, and Scott stayed on top of you, and his breath stayed in your mouth and his hands stayed under your shirt. Because you closed your eyes so in the makeshift darkness they’d blurred until you couldn’t tell when one finished and the others started.

You swung the stall door open, but instead of tears you showed Janine and Kelly your teeth and middle finger. Because girls like them would waste a lifetime learning what you already knew – that the good grades, the say-please-and-thank-you, the keeping-your-legs-shut, it was all BS.

Because back that night in that teenager cave, Kurt Cobain had whined through the speakers “Here we are now, Entertain us…”

What do we say, Mallory?

Load up on guns, bring your friends…

*

2544 Ridgemont Drive

You didn’t believe in God but that day you had faith.

Because you’d done everything right. Because you said, thank you, Miss Hannigan, before going back to your desk, the paper gold star shimmering in your hands. Because your mom smiled as she stuck your badge of good behaviour on the fridge.

As soon as your daddy arrived you pulled at his sleeves so he wouldn’t miss the proof you were a good girl, and he wouldn’t have to remind you anymore. Because he only grunted in response as he grabbed a beer, the star disappearing behind the swing of the door.

Because when everybody watched TV after dinner, you snuck into the kitchen to retrieve your talisman and pin it to your bedroom door. Because cowboys had stars in the movies that always stopped the villains.

But it didn’t work. Because he still tiptoed inside your room after the house was lost to sleep. The whine of the door, the creak of your single bed as he climbed on top of you, the only sounds in the darkness. Because movies lied, not even a gold star could stop the Lion swinging on its chain above your face in rhythm with his whispered “You’re a good girl”. Because with nowhere to go you fled inside yourself. There was a trick to it. Like the magician’s assistant who stepped into that shiny wardrobe on stage, you climbed into the little one you had built inside your head.

What do we say, Mallory?

It doesn’t fucking matter.

Laure Van Rensburg

About Laure Van Rensburg

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK. Her short stories have appeared in various publications and placed in competitions. They can also be found on her website: www.laurevanrensburg.com. She is an accomplished librocubicularist.

Laure Van Rensburg is a French writer living in the UK. Her short stories have appeared in various publications and placed in competitions. They can also be found on her website: www.laurevanrensburg.com. She is an accomplished librocubicularist.

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