"Damnit!" I swore loudly as the door behind me slammed shut. I cradled my right foot, balancing on the other as I did so.
"Stupid table!" I placed my foot on the floor gingerly, testing out my stubbed toe. As I had guessed, today had not been the best. Since I fell asleep at the kitchen table the alarm in my bedroom had not woken me up, thus I had been late to work.
After I got there my boss had lectured me about being late, cut my pay, and then sent me straight off to massage a fat old man who had smelled of feet.
Now I was on my break. I sat down at the table in the small employee lounge and dug in my bag, realizing after a moment that in my haste that morning, I had forgotten my lunch. I groaned. How much worse could it get? I stopped myself after that thought. Whenever someone thought that, it always got worse.
I pulled some quarters out of my bag and walked over to the vending machine. I inserted the quarters and hit a button, listening as the machine made a grinding noise, finally spitting out a bag of cookies. I sat down at the table again and began to eat my cookies and by the time I finished them my break was over.
I walked down the hall to "my" room. All the masseuses had their own room that they went to everyday. The way the spa worked was that people could come in, swim, exercise, soak, or get a massage, but only members of the "club" were allowed.
People chose whatever room they wanted for the massage, so if they had a favorite masseuse, they knew which room they were in every time. I was one of the more popular masseuses since I was quite good at my job (one of the few things I was good at), so I was always busy, but I was still paid less than all the other employees because I was "the new girl."
I walked in and saw someone lying on the table. "Good afternoon, sir," I said automatically.
The man did not bother responding to me, just looked at me expectantly. I was used to it. The spa was a nice one, a high class one; therefore most of the people who came to it were rich snobs. They saw me as a mere servant and didn't usually trouble themselves with responding to me.
Dipping my hands into the basin of cool oil beside the table, I began to massage the young man. As I worked the kinks out of his muscles I let my mind wander.
Today, after work, I was going shopping. This thought cheered me up a bit. I rarely had enough money to go shopping, so when I did it was an occasion for celebration. Earlier I had decided that I would like to buy candle wax and some scented oils so that I could make candles.
It would help me in more ways than one. Not only would I have fun making candles, but I could save money on electricity by burning them for light (to say the least, I didn't have much money so I spared all that I could).
I was brought out of my thoughts by the sound of someone's irritated voice.
"Sorry, what did you say?" I asked politely.
"I told you to do it harder," the man said in a haughty fashion. I pressed into his muscles harder. Dear god, I couldn't wait for work to be over.
The woods were quiet all around me. A feeling tugged at me, beckoning towards me as I traveled through the woods at night. My feet touched the gelid surface of the ground, chilling at its touch.
A voice called out to me. "Come on Colleen, you can do it."
I continued to walk forward toward the voice. Twigs bent under my feet but did not break, allowing me to travel in silence.
"Colleen. Colleen." The voice seemed to move around the forest, first appearing on my left side, then on my right.
"Colleen," it called from behind me. I turned to look at it.
I jumped and stood quickly, rubbing my eyes so that I could focus on the person before me.
"It's a good thing Jim didn' find ya asleep in here!" Sam cried. The woman gave me a reproachful look. Sam's face was worn and wrinkled from the hard labor she had done in her life. She was around the age of thirty, but looked much older. She'd been working at the spa for over ten years and had been visibly drained by it. The poor girl didn't seem to have much life left in her.
"Ya better hurry up! Ya have to clean the tub today, orders o' Jim." Jim was our boss and if he had found me asleep I would've been fired. My heart dropped. Cleaning the tubs was the worst, dirtiest job I could get.
I was most likely being punished for being late this morning. There went my shopping trip, unless I could clean the tubs in record time.
"You musta done somethin' real bad to make him have ya do that," Sam said.
"I was late this morning."
"Just late eh? Hmm, he seems to be over reactin' just a bit, don' ya think? I mean, I heard about all the other things he had ya doin earlier. You were the one that got that stinky old man weren' ya?"
I smiled at Sam. "Yeah, I was."
"Jeez, he musta been awful mad at you fer somethin' else. Ya didn' insult him did ya?"
"Insult him? Why would I call him names?"
"I didn' quite mean it like tha', Colleen."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, ya see, he's a lover of women, so I 'eard, and, well this is just what I 'eard, but he's made a pretty few passes at some o' the younger women that work fer him."
"Now take it with a grain o' salt, dear, I don' mean nothin' by it, all I'm sayin' is fer ya to watch yerself, okay?"
I nodded. Sam walked out the door, most likely to go home for the day. Walking over to the cleaning closet, I pulled out rubber gloves, cleaning solution, and a scrub brush. I walked dejectedly to the room full of tubs and set about the task of cleaning twenty of them.
"Jim is such a jerk!" I cried. It had been three hours since I'd first started scrubbing and I still had four tubs left. Even if I had been late, he shouldn't have made me do ALL of them! He never would have made any of the other employees do all of the tubs by themselves, he only ever did that to me.
A door opened and closed to the room I was in, then the sound of someone walking could be heard. Since I was currently crouched down in one of the tubs, scrubbing the bottom, I couldn't see who it was, and I was pretty sure that they couldn't see me, which I was grateful for.
I was just thinking about how much I didn't want to deal with someone when a thought occurred to me. What was somebody doing here this late? I froze. Fear began to build up inside of me. The footsteps were coming towards me.
Should I look to see who it was? If I did the person might see me. Even if they didn't see me right away when they walked past the tub I was in I would be easily seen.
Should I run for it? Then they would see me for sure, but I would have a head start getting away. My heart beat loudly in my ears as it quickened with the beginnings of panic. My mind screamed at me to run, but part of me said to stay and hide here.
Before I could decide fully, however, the footsteps stopped beside the tub I was in.
"Well, well, Colleen. Still here are you?"
I flinched at the voice. It was Jim.
"Yes," I replied cautiously. "I haven't finished with the tubs yet."
"Go ahead and get out of the tub, you don't have to do the rest."
I felt relief wash over me as I stood and moved to climb out of the tub. However, since I had just been washing it, it was wet and slippery, so I slid back inside.
Jim laughed and held out his hand to me. I took it and climbed out, but as I trued to pull away, Jim pulled me towards him, hugging me to his body. I stiffened immediately.
"Jim? U-um, what are you d-doing?"
"How would you like to earn a raise?" he asked, his voice taking on a tone that freaked me out. My eyes widened and I lifted my hands to push away from him. Jim used one of his hands to grab one of mine, stopping me from pushing away.
"Don't you want a raise Colleen?"
What should I do? If I did what he wanted I would get more money, which I desperately needed. If I didn't, however, I would probably be fired. Usually I would just find another job, but Jim had some influence in the town and if I refused him I was sure that he would see to it that I never got hired.
Just as I had that thought, Jim spoke.
"You know what I can do to you if you refuse me."
Chills ran up my spine. Would I be filthy if I succumbed to him? I couldn't do it. Even just thinking about it caused bile to rise up in my throat. I pushed away from him. I would be nice and try to keep my job if I could.
"I'm sorry sir, but I can't."
I winced inwardly as anger contorted his face.
"Colleen, this is not a wise decision."
"I-I know sir, but I can't, I'm really sorry."
"C'mon, it's okay, none of the other girls will find out about it."
"N-no, I'm sorry sir, but I really can't do something like that."
"Colleen..........." he trailed off, reaching up to grab my chest.
I panicked, pushed him off of me, and said no again, more forcefully this time.
"Nobody says no to me!" he yelled, his face turning red.
I bit back the smart ass remark that I had just said no to him. I backed away from him, intent on leaving. As I turned and began to walk away, however, I felt someone grab my arm and turn me around sharply.
Before I had the chance to resist someone was kissing me roughly. I pushed away quickly, looking at him with wide eyes. Jim grabbed me again, forcing me to the ground. I couldn't move. For a moment I remained frozen, not fully grasping what was happening to me, but then it hit me. I could very well be raped tonight. I began to struggle violently, clawing at his face and hitting him every chance I got.
It seemed that my struggle only made him angrier. He pinned me to the ground with his body, then pulled his hand back and struck me hard across the face. My vision blurred for a moment as my head swam and I knew- with an absurd thought for what was going on at the moment- what people were talking about when they said they saw stars. Little bursts of light flashed behind my eyes, but as my eyes focused panic rose up in me once again.
I struggled blindly, lashing out anywhere I could as he touched me. Finally, one of my legs connected with his groin and he collapsed on top of me in pain. I panicked again and shoved at his body, trying to get him off of me. I stumbled to my feet after I finally got him off and began running towards the door.
"Colleen!" Jim yelled. "You're fired! You'll never work again!"
It occurred to me how terribly cliched that line sounded, but his words barely registered as I sprinted out of the building and towards the woods where my house lay.
My fingers reached up to touch the tender skin that was marred by a bruise. I sucked a sharp breath in through my teeth as my finger came in contact with my face. I looked in the mirror before me, staring at my face.
I no longer had a job; I knew that, which meant that I would be out of food shortly. I may not even have enough for the rest of this week and it was Thursday. That was, indeed, how I had remained thin in the first place. I wasn't a stick by any means, but I wasn't large either, and I certainly hadn't stayed that way by exercising.
I'd never had a surplus of money for fine foods. All I could afford was the very basics like bread, milk, peanut butter, cheese, and macaroni (yes, macaroni is a basic, damn you!). Now, if I were to suddenly come into money, I would never eat those foods again.
Although I would save up so that I could buy myself the occasional presents, like the candles I was supposed to get today, I would not spend the extra money on expensive foods. Eating was eating, but the only way that I could remain sane out here without friends, family, or even the peace of sleep, was by getting something to make me happy every one in a while.
I trudged over to the door and opened it, walking into the hall and then my bedroom. I lay in my bed and pulled the blankets up to my chin. Closing my eyes, I settled my mind for the night. I would have to go looking for another job in the morning and hope that Jim hadn't tarnished my working reputation too much.