A young woman comes of age in the image of her Father.
Whores, Maids and Wives
By Nick Lachmund
For The Enlightened Award
For The Unenlightened Collection
My name is Alicia. My father was a soldier. He died when I was young, a victim of the invaders from the North. He died unsuccessfully trying to protect our way of life. We Southern women have had few chances in life since. When I was eleven, I overheard a Northerner tell my mother that Southern women could only become whores, maids or wives. I told myself that I would never be one of these. Tonight is the night I prove that the Northerners will never own me. Tonight I will shed the blood of my enemy and make my statement as loudly as I can.
I have managed to make it to my sixteenth year without being snatched by a Northerner. My mother hid me from many a raiding party by forcing me to lie under the loose floorboards in our cottage. I would lie there, in the darkness and hear the horrible things that they would do to her. I would stop myself from crying, sometimes biting down hard on my clothes to resist. When they left, mother would lift the floorboards and release me. She would always smile as I arose from the darkness. It was as if seeing me always gave her hope. I miss my mother. She died last winter. Without access to the supplies we once had, it’s hard to fight against the sickness of the colder months.
I sit in a cold, plain room in the back of a brothel remembering my parents. Only a few memories of my father remain. The rough feel of his calloused hands. The stubble burn on my cheek as he kissed me. Memories of him are more senses than visions. The memories of my mother, however, are more vivid. I supress an urge to cry as I remember her final days. I can cry once I’m finished. I take one last look in the mirror. I examine myself. My long, auburn hair is platted and my tall frame is accentuated by my thinness. My dress is nice and suitably revealing. It’s time.
I walk into a waiting room where the Madam, a fat Northerner is rounding up the girls. She shouts at us to get in line. We fall in as a group of Northern soldiers enter the room. I can smell their masculine odour as they near me. Being hidden from men for so long makes my senses acutely aware when one is near. The men examine us. We stand like cattle at a market, waiting to be picked for the slaughter. The Madam speaks to the men. I hear her whisper something about it being my first time and all of the men’s eyes settle on me. I can feel their erotic gazes boring into me. Suddenly, the Madam clasps my arm and pulls me away from the other girls. She pushes me into a small room. A Northern soldier follows.
I quickly sit on a seat next to the double bed that dominates the room. The soldier, who is at least twice my size sits on the bed. He takes off his armour and his weapons and gently tosses them into the corner of the room before looking me over. He grunts and signals for me to approach. I move slowly toward him. When I am within his reach, he wraps one of his monstrous arms around my torso and pulls me close. My senses are overwhelmed by his stench. Along with the sweat, I think I can smell blood on him. It’s probably just my imagination, but I feel like I can smell the blood of my people on this soldier.
Still sitting, he wraps both arms around me. His hug gradually gets tighter, like the death grip of a boa constrictor. I reach behind and touch the handle of the shiv. I don’t grab it straight away, waiting to see if he noticed the movement. He squeezes me without suspicion so I draw the shiv from the back of my skirt. I quickly plunge the blade into the side of his neck, just below the jaw. He releases me. His eyes grow wide as the shock begins to set in. Before he can move I strike again and again, plunging the blade into his throat and face. He tries to cover his wounds with his hands but I continue to create new wounds. He eventually collapses onto the floor and lets out a soft, gurgling scream.
I sit and wait, watching the soldier take his final breaths. When I know he is gone, I leave the room. In the waiting room I see the Madam lying in a pool of blood, having had her throat cut like the animal she was. Gradually, all of the doors leading to other rooms open and my Southern sisters join me. We stand, holding our makeshift weapons and covered in the blood of our enemies. We don’t speak, we just stand and smile. Tonight marks the beginning. It is the biggest attack on the Northern army since they invaded. In brothels all over the South, soldiers have died tonight. The sisterhood has spoken. We will recapture our lands and we will rid the South of the evil Northerners. Our children will know of this night.
My name is Alicia. My father was a soldier and now, so am I.