He exhaled rashly as he fell onto the bed. Looking up at the prostitute with satisfied eyes, he handed over the wad of cash. “Job well done, you worthless object!” he laughed.
The prostitute was already walking out the door; heavy pockets and heavy heart, legs aching and head hurting.
The prostitute, like all prostitutes, had not always been a prostitute. He had been a bright, young student in the local public school, a voracious reader and an ardent dreamer. But to compensate for his heavy talent, fate had given his family a towering debt. This forced him to fund himself through college. This had meant working long hours and being employed to different employers – and wildly different professions.
The prostitute went to the market hastily. Every time after his ‘sessions’, he felt pangs of guilt and hopelessness. He let time heal the physical and emotional wounds that hurt him at times like this. But time was an imperfect doctor.
He stopped at the local art store. A plethora of colours greeted him; exquisite paintings everywhere the eye could see.
He walked briskly across the exhibit until he found the painting he wanted. To him, it seemed to be the only exhibit screaming of colour. It was a portrait of a child laughing uncontrollably, his tiny hands on his belly and his head pulled back in blissful oblivion. The child was lying on a sea of green grass, under a glorious sunset – or was it a sunrise?
Surrendering the wad of cash, he bought the painting and hurried back to his apartment. He walked unnaturally fast after his ‘sessions’, afraid that the entire world was onto him, afraid that everyone knew him not as a hardworking man who struggled to make ends meet by working three jobs a day, but as a prostitute. The prostitute was much more than a prostitute.
Not that it was a threat, anyway. Nobody knew of this avatar of his. Only his clients did. And most of them were middle-aged, married men who were more secretive than him.
His mind was racing as he reached his apartment. Excitedly, he opened the door and ran towards the bed, a mischievous smile on his face.
He awakened her. Yawning, she sat up on the bed. Struggling to open her eyes against the evening sun, she said in a curt, teasing voice, “You’re late. Again.”
Her hair was unkempt and her dress dishevelled. She gazed at him with playful arrogance. “I missed you. How was your extended class?”
“Extended,” he laughingly replied, “And you’re as beautiful as ever.”
“Shut up,” she said sheepishly, struggling to fight back a smile, “What is that in your hand?”
Hands shaking with anticipation, he opened the case and gave her the painting. He had caught her staring at the painting many times in the past few weeks. He knew she loved that painting. Perhaps it was the innocence of the child or the depth of the sun. But the painting made her eyes go merrily wild in many ways.
She didn’t blink as she received the painting. She stared at it with mouth slightly open before looking up at him unbelievingly. There was a pause before she asked, “This costs a fortune! How did you afford this!”
“Our love for each other is worth more than all the fortunes of the universe,” he said, one eyebrow raised.
They stared at each other for a while. Two bodies, four eyes and one soul, a subtle understanding between them.
“Where were you today?” she asked.
The prostitute replied, “Extended class, dear. They’re training us really hard this time. Hopefully, I’ll do well in the exams and get a decent-paying job.”
“You work too hard, and spend too much. You shouldn’t have bought the painting. We don’t have enough money.”
“Consider it my gift.”
“No, you spend too much.”
He fell on the bed and rested his weary head on her lap. “For your happiness, I would do anything.” he said.
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