I could sit this way forever. My knees bent into an angle of pain as they hugged my chest. I wrap my arms around them and hold them close. The melanin in my face absorbs the sun as it beats down on me. I am thankful for the ocean's mist that dabs onto my skin, cooling it from the sun. Staring at the waves is the only moment of stillness. I’ve lived here on the Mariana Island’s for 12 years now. I’ve seen so many women come and go, but I remain. I have no permission to be here ever, I am always to stay indoors, obey and work. The ego that lives inside of me, that fire that tried to bite, kick and kill those three men who brought me here, still exists. I never changed. I never fell in love with these men, the regulars that visit me or the traveling perverts who come to see us. When I close my eyes at night, I imagine San Diego again, what my older twin brothers look like now. I wonder if the Krispy Kreme donut shop is still around the corner from my house. At 10 years old, my mom got breast cancer and then I went missing. I dream that she is still alive, not burdened by cancer or worrying about me. She doesn’t need to worry about me because I am adaptable. I adapted to the world I grew up in and the world I know now. I always imagine my mother happy and healthy.
I wish I could go back. There’s been four times when I’ve tried to leave. Each time my bosses caught me and never killed me. I always imagine that I am special, so they keep me around. There is no other explanation since I have seen women murdered for attempting to leave just once. The last time was two years ago and after the pure solitude, something in me gave up. Besides that insatiable craving for freedom that will never die in me, there is something different now. Just sitting here, watching the ocean is all I need for freedom. I see the planes fly overhead. I used to be filled with envy and rage, but now, I feel free. When my hips feel like they are going to pop out of place, I imagine drowning in the ocean. I imagine jumping out of those airplanes.
“Cheyanne!” I heard a boss call my ‘name.’ Racist bastards changed my name from Tala to Cheyanne. My mother gave me a name that means ‘wolf,’ and I really am one. I feel the breath that’s caught in my throat escape through my teeth and tickle my lips. If I could see my own breath, it would float away into the boring breeze of the ocean that creates the waves. Imagine, my breath, creating a wave. I turn my head towards the man.
“What?” I ask quietly.
“Your 2 o’clock is here. Why are you outside?” he asked calmly.
“Because I just wanted to feel-”
“You just want to feel free, huh?” I felt his palm digging into the crown of my head, pulling my tiny 5’2 body up to my feet. I could feel that aching in my knees now more than ever.
“Please come inside, don’t make me punish you, please, Cheyanne.” This boss is the nicest one, I can tell he’s a little bitch baby boy because his father is the head boss, he’s just here because he has to be, just like me…
“Please, Hugo, let me be Tala again.” I resemble my father these days. I haven’t cried in two years when I was caught trying to leave, but I felt my dark eyes glossing over, welling up fat, and dripping down my face. What a familiar feeling. A feeling that leaves me hopeless for my future.
“Tala.” I whispered through my choking mouth.
“Please come inside, Tala.” I bit down on my bottom lip, hearing my own name for the first time in twelve years. I turned away from the freedom spread out in front of me, turned away from my memories, just to stare at Hugo who stood in front of our camp, ready for my body to be mocked. With each step towards my office, I forgot my name again and again.
“You still have to give him the 15 minutes that you missed from being late.” I nodded and walked up the stairs to my room. I pull open the door and see a man I’ve never seen before. He’s tall. And that’s all I care to know about him.
I stared my customer in his face, smiling. He wasted no time, knocking me over to the floor. He pulled my body to my bed. My spine felt electric on my mattress as he fought his way through my clothes. My limp little hands found their way to my eyes as I sobbed for a moment. The man looked at me and said what I’ve heard so many times:
“You look so beautiful when you cry, please do not stop."
Please know, that I always do.