This story is by Elisabetta Wilson and was part of our 2022 Spring Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
The smell of alcohol and sweat hit my nostrils. The changing room was busier than usual. There were the peacocks’ girls, who dressed to impress. They were passionate, flirty, and fun to be around. The eagles’ girls were elegant. They moved smoothly. Their canning and powerful personalities hooked the men. All were in a rush to secure the most generous clients. I secretly hoped someone picked me, but most men didn’t want an Italian. This was a problem because I wanted to meet guys who loved me.
“Ciao Bambola.” Sonia, a Rumanian girl, said, exposing her pearl teeth.
“Ciao Sonia, you look happy tonight,” I said, kissing her on her white cheeks while attempting to change into a short pink leather dress.
“He is here, and I think he will propose tonight.” She was dancing, hugging anyone available.
“How do you know?” I thought how beautiful and naïve she was with long dark hair and blue eyes.
I finally managed to fit in the slight wear. I felt good.
“Bambola, you know I see the future”, she continued. “You look amazing with short brown hair, and the makeup pops the green eyes. You have lost some weight, eh!”
“Always honest.” I smiled. I looked into the mirror and liked how I looked; the fatty tummy was gone, and the pink boots suited my slim legs.
“Bambola, let’s go. I want to introduce you to one of his friends.”
We left the changing rooms and entered the main stage saloon.
“Finally, you are ready”, the club manager Andrea told us with a puffy tone. He pulled me by the right arm.
“Hey, there is no need to be so forceful,” Sonia commented before he pulled me into the private area and guided me to the back of the stage.
“You are due to dance next.” And left.
I trained in aerial pole dancing in the past year. It had been hard managing school homework and working most nights, but the chances to find love increased.
I walked onto the stage. My hands were shaking. I could feel my heart running as the band begin played the song Russian Roulette by Rihanna.
The singer’s voice filled me with excitement and passion. Long red silk sheets were placed around the pole. The floor was covered with fresh flowers, making it look like a white carpet.
My body moved slowly between the silk sheets. I felt strong as I climbed up and down the pole, less nervous about the stares from the public. I quickly moved to the edge of the stage. A man grabbed my ankles, and I dropped to the ground. I ignored the pain in my back and took my boots off. I stood up and ran to the back of the stage. The man followed me and jerked me to the floor.
“Let me go,” I screamed.
He forced himself on top of me and held my hands over my head. I moved my legs up and down.
“Leave her alone,” one of the security guards said, pulling him away from me “come with me.”
I never saw the guy again. Shaking, I walked back to the changing room. I sat on one of the benches and stared at the wall.
“Here is a rum. Are you ok?” Andrea said as he walked into the changing room. He had a kind smile.
“Thank you” I gulped down the drink and continued. “I feel warm and relaxed now.”
“What a memorable first dance!”
“Is this a joke to you?” I was angry and mortified. Is this the love you sacrificed your life for? I asked myself.
“Hey, don’t let it affect you; it happens nearly every night. Some men are animals,” and continued, “You have been booked tonight, but you can go home if you wish.”
“This is the best news I heard tonight. Of course, I’m staying.”
“Ok”, he took a box from his jacket and placed it in my hands, “He wants you to wear it.”
Inside there was a necklace. A green heart-shaped pendant hung from a sparkly chain.
“Wow, It’s beautiful.” The pain I felt earlier escaped from my body. A note inside the box said:
The heart reminds me of your eyes
“Clean up. I’ll come back in 10 minutes.”
I had a shower. I wore a white off-shoulder mini dress and paired it with white high heels sandals. Refreshed the green make-up. The necklace completed the outfit.
“Are you ready?” Andrea stayed out of the changing room.
“Let’s go and have some fun!” I smiled and took Andrea’s hand.
We walked to the private area. Gold chandeliers and candles highlighted the bar in the centre, surrounded by rooms. Each room was closed by black silk curtains. I spent hours dreaming about meeting a tall, dark-haired man while a white silk sheet wrapped my body.
Andrea walked me to one of the private rooms. Bodyguards stood at the entrance. They had guns tightened to their body. They pulled the curtains after they searched me.
“Welcome, Bambola; the necklace suits you.” He had a reassuring smile and blonde hair. He said, “You look gorgeous; sit next to me.”
I diligently followed his desire. He continued, “Would you like a bottle of champagne?”
“No, thanks, I prefer Gin & Tonic.”
Which gin do you prefer?”
“The Korean one, I don’t remember the name…. yes, Koru Gin” I smiled.
“Good choice. Let’s have two of those.”
Andrea left the room with the order. As the curtains opened, I saw Sonia with her man; they were both staring into each other eyes. I was happy for her. It was a rare connection.
“Why don’t you want champagne?” He looked confused.
“I find it a waste of money. Admittedly I get higher commissions with Champagne, but I’m not here for the money.”
He looked surprised:
“Why are you here for?”
“To find love. Have you ever thought about how love affects people? how it makes people happy or said?”
“No, I haven’t.” His tone was cold.
“Have you ever loved anyone?”
“No, I haven’t.” He repeated.
My eyes were firm on the floor, and my hands tight to my waste.
He lifted my face and said:
“Look at me. Your eyes are expressive, and I bet you can’t lie?”
“No, I can’t.” My voice sounded happy about it.
He moved closer to me and hugged me. He caressed my neck and my hair.
He was so close to me that I could smell him. It was a combination of cherries and chestnuts cooked on the fireplace.
He undoes my dress as Andrea delivers the drinks.
“Undress me.” He told me as he lifted me on his legs.
His hands were all over my body. I tried to pull away, but he was too strong.
“Please stop touching me,” I screamed.
His bodyguards rushed to help their boss. I used the confusion to move away from him. I put my hands on his torso and jumped off his legs. As I pulled away, I caught his pin; A gold eagle. I fell on my back, and Sonia helped me out of the room.
We run to the change room.
“There is a car at the back,” Sonia said. “Here are the keys.”
“You are not coming with me?” Tears were washing down my cheeks.
“I can’t. This is my world,” she said while walking to the car.
“Drive to the Como train station and leave the car in the long-stay parking. Walk to the bar opposite the parking and leave the key for Mrs Hope.”
She pushed me into the car and waited for me to disappear. I drove fast. It took me under an hour to arrive at my destination.
I followed Sonia’s instructions and ordered a takeaway espresso. I walked to the edge of the lake and sat on a bench. My dress was dirty, and my mouth stank of alcohol.
I watched the early sun emerging from the cliffs. The birds sang and flew over the purple sky. I saw a golden eagle flying its wings toward me. She looked majestic, strong, and caring. At that moment, I promised myself: to find my world.