by Sheila Estrada
Tires spinning steadily on the street.
A squeaking door opens.
A quick click then slushy snow.
The tapping against the runner.
A sigh, the door closes.
A fast rush to the stoplight.
Heels hit the ground.
On to the next one.
The nights cold
Wind cutting through the goosebumps
Beneath the fishnets
Foot warmers dont seem warm
inside plastic open-toed shoes
Hennies wearing off and the LQs closed.
By Sheila Estrada
I open the door to the hotel room, one of the many
Ive been to in the last six months. I can be myself here,
whoever that is. I step in and let the door close behind me. I
slide the sensor on the wall halfway to keep the room lit dimly.
I dont want to see the room because its the same as
all the others Ive been unprivileged to stay in, elegantly
furnished to hide not-so-elegant living. Theres no sign
of life here, except the suitcase. The corner peeks from under
the beds comforter on the floor. The lotion is on the nightstand
and the makings of my work costume, the make-up bag, the thigh
highs on the bed.
I walk in the corner-carved kitchenette, listening
to my high heels hitting the linoleum. The sound irritates me
because Ive been turning tricks to survive since I was fourteen,
and that click click sound reminds me Im in character. I
grab the door of the fridge looking for something cold, wet and
alcoholic to quench the thirst, to forget the stress from conducting
this evenings business. As I reach for the beer bottle that
promises to do the job, I feel the cool air from the fridge across
my cheek. Excited, I grab it and bite off the top -- a little
trick I learned to do in the New York sleaze scene to get attention.
Putting the green ice-cold bottle to my mouth, I
swallow long and hard, letting my whole body take in the coolness.
I put the bottle on the counter and as I grab the cap, I realize
the beers half empty. But I dont care because I needed
it. I wanted it. It was the only thing that could soothe me, could
make it all disappear -- their looks, their touches the smell
of their alcoholic sweat.
I reach down and unstrap my clear plastic heel,
patent leather stiletto that only the sexy survive wearing. I
drop it to the floor and take the other one off. I wiggle my toes
and shift my weight and hear my toes cracking which lets me know
these puppies have had enough walking, dancing, anything, for
one night. I walk down the hall towards the bathroom. Turning
on the light makes me squint my eyes. I turn the light back off
and click on the light for the hallway. I step in and leave the
door open, so that the hallway light slightly illuminates the
I bend over, click the drain stopper and turn the
water on. I begin to undress. Reaching under my skirt, I grab
at the waistband of my pantyhose and feel myself tense a little.
The steam from the tub floats up and I relax as I inhale it. I
slide off my pantyhose and lace underwear in one swift motion.
I reach behind me and unzip my favorite, oh-so-tight black leather
dress. I let it drop to the floor and lightly kick it aside as
I unhook my lace bra. I swing the top half of my body one way
and then the other, cracking my back, let out a sigh, and step
into the tub, turn the water off and slowly lower myself in.
I rest my head and tears begin to well up in my
eyes. I dont really know why, but tonights work hit
me really hard. Maybe it was the way that one guy kept ordering
me to keep moving, dont stop like I didnt
hear him the first time. Or maybe it was the way I could smell
the beer seeping out of his pores as his sweat dropped down on
me, making me have to talk myself out of childhood flashbacks
of my foster father desecrating my seven-year-old body with his
disgusting, thick semen after his demonic climax. I dont
like thinking about that, but lately, its been on my mind
more than I care to admit.
I splash the hot water on my face and see traces
of black glitter in the tub water. I rub the soap and washcloth
together and dunk them under the surface. I try to blink the thoughts
out of my mind. I start rubbing the soapy washcloth hard against
my face to get off all the mascara and glitter. I wipe my lips
and feel them begin to tremble. I use the washcloth to splash
water on my face, but it doesnt stop the inevitable. My
body begins to shake and I notice the little ripples in the water
get bigger and move faster. A quick quivering moan escapes my
lips. I try to swallow real hard to try to control the tensed
knot in my throat. It does no good because it needs to come out.
It has to come out. It demands to come out.
I drop the washcloth, put my hands up to my face,
covering it and open my mouth to let out the sound of a tormented
soul whose pain cant be restrained. Instead, all I can do
is inhale a long, quiet breath. I want to let out a scream, a
yell -- anything to relieve the pain I feel inside, but all that
comes out is a muffled sob and a few tears. Suddenly it happens.
I loose control. I start kicking my legs, swinging my arms against
the water and the water hits the wall and overflows from the tub
onto the floor. I yell out, I fucking hate you! I fucking
hate you! Dont touch me. No! It doesnt feel good!
No! I dont like it. Get off of me! NO! NO! NO!
I can taste the soapy tears. My eyes and nose begin
to burn and I quietly say to myself, calm down, calm down, its
okay, its okay. I splash water on my face again and let
the water out of the tub, stand up and turn the shower on. I begin
to soap my body, scrubbing my body as fast and as hard as I can.
I just want to get out of here already. I turn the water off,
slide the curtain, and step out onto the dress that is still on
the floor. I slip a little, hold the sink to regain my footing
and grab the towel off the rack, wrap it around my body and almost
run back down the hallway to the kitchen to the beer I left on
the counter. I chug the rest.
Slowly, my body relaxes and the fire in the pit
of my stomach is doused and Im back. I put on my soft cotton
pajama pants, pull my comforter back, slide my body onto the bed
and lay down, hoping I can get some rest.
by Sheila Estrada
I touch the softness of the red and black velvet
curtain and peer through the slight opening and watch the snow
fill the parking lot outside the cheap hotel room window. For
all the clanking and banging coming from the radiator, you would
think itd be hot as Hawaii in this room, but its not.
All its doing is working my last nerve.
I see the reflection of my glossy eyes in the glass
and gently close the curtain. With a shaky hand, leaning on the
window frame, I bow my head and let the heavy tears that have
filled my eyes spill down my cheeks. I feel the hot rush of embarrassment
and shame run up from my stomach to my chest like a flame hit
by lighter fluid. I feel weak, like I can no longer stand, so
I pull out the squeaky wood and cloth chair and balance myself
on the little round cherry wood table and drop into the chair
like the lifeless person I feel like and begin to cry. Not one
of those loud hysterical cries. No, this cry has traveled from
so deep within, through layers of shields and protective walls,
that by the time it reaches the surface, all that comes out is
a quiet squeaky moan left by a loves end.
Holding my head in my hands, I rock back and forth
as memories of first moments flash through my mind like little
mini movies. I can still remember the first look my lover gave
me that sent the feeling of fluttering butterflies through me
and tickled my womanhood. The first gentle, touching caress which
felt so foreign because I never felt that safe or wanted before
the first spat over the toilet seat that ended quickly and quietly
complete with a kiss and an apology.
My lips quiver as I sniffle and inhale long and
deep, trying to regain some sense of control. I grip both hands
on the armrests alongside me and push myself out of the chair
and walk towards the mirror and sink. As I walk by the t.v. I
click it on and hear some reporter talking about a murder-suicide
in some small town I never heard of. I let out a sigh of sadness
because of what happened and relief that it wasnt me. Wonder
what set him off, I say quietly to myself, turning the knob
for the hot water and placing a round rubber stopper in the sink.
I close my eyes and let the heat vapors cloud around my face and
My mind drifts back to the lesson I was still trying
to learn from the discipline, as my lover calls it,
and to thoughts of him holding me still by the back of my head,
my curls were wrapped around his fingers so tight that I thought
hed pull them out by the roots. His fist smashed so hard
into my jaw that I spat out little pieces of broken teeth that
stabbed my tongue with a sharpness that made me wonder if I had
taken my razor out of my mouth when I came in from hustling. I
remember trying to pull forward and shake my head from side to
side to free myself from the hold he had on me. I felt paralyzed
from the look of hate in his eyes. Sweat outlining his face as
he placed it nose to nose with mine, yelling his favorite, You
dirty bitch! line at me.
My knees buckled under me. I brought my palms together
in a prayer position, intertwined my fingers, laid my thumb flat
against my index finger and with all my strength, I swung my hands
upwards into his face, hoping it would explode. Ripping his hands
out of my hair, he swung me loose sending me with my arms raised
crashing into the dresser with a loud crack. Stumbling backwards
into the wall with his hands over his face, he yelled, You
maggot bitch! The echo of his voice startled me and reminded
me that I was alive and I still needed to get away. I pressed
at my throbbing side, hoping my ribs werent broken, leaned
forward and sprinted towards the door. I grabbed the doorknob
yanked at it, then almost felt defeated when I realized that I
was trapped by the chain. I slammed the door shut, and with lightning
speed, I slid the chain out, praying it wouldnt get stuck
at the end, and swung the door open so hard I sent it slamming
accidentally, but with some satisfaction on his fingers before
he could reach me to snatch me back into the room.
Suddenly, I feel my feet are wet and open my eyes
and realize the water is overflowing from the sink. I turn the
knob and shut it off, wave the vapors away from my face and wipe
the fog off the mirror. I can hardly recognize myself through
the puffiness. I take a deep breath to get up enough courage to
wash off the cover-up I put on my face to hide what Ive
become. This isnt the first time Ive been here alone
crying in some cheap hotel room wondering how to stay away after
a date with some fat guy named John of course, who
was kind enough to leave me the room after he was done doing his
I can still recall how relieved I was when I caught
the date after putting on the cover-up, lipstick and eyeliner
I stole from Walgreens, to fix my face, to look as normal
as possible. I waved him down, winking and blowing a kiss, and
as his car passed by I looked over my shoulder, trembling, praying,
I could get in the car safely, without my so-called man getting
to me first.
Thank God I did get away. Now Im here here
I am with my shaking hand washing my face, staring at my new bruises,
begging myself not to go back there, this time.
by Sheila Estrada
Watch out miss too
cute for you, before
you find yourself on
that sexy tight ass
of yours, from the harsh
blow called reality that
may knock you down
off that oh so high
pedestal and send you
crashing into the true
blue you, you refuse to
be. Better be careful
Miss absolute heartbreaker
all glammed up in that make-up
hoping to hide the face
you hate to look at, each
line reminding you of where
youve been and how fast
youre not getting where you
wanted to go. All the cover-up
in the world wont hide the
emptiness behind those bruised
eyes that still hold on to
the dreams that will
never come true.
by Hailey Chuckran
I wish I could say
I was a beautiful stone
that glimmered in the sunlight
from the polishing
of a million waves,
from the strongest storms
pushed through the quickest currents.
But Im merely a jaded rock
with miles to go
before my edges are smoothed
and my battle scars fade.
If shame was a drop of water
Id be a river
flowing into an ocean of guilt.
If regret was a tree
Id be standing
in the middle of a forest.
If events of the past
were bricks sealed into my walls
Id rip out every one
and watch as my home crumbled.
But all I can do
is try to do better.
And maybe one day
Ill believe you
when you say youre proud.
But for now
Ill try to see
what you see.
I walked slowly towards the door, staring down at my flip flops
moving through the sunstroked grass. The sun was beating down
on me like a hammer and I broke into a sweat. I finally looked
up at the old, thick black door I had seen so many times. It reminded
me of when my mother left it open to watch me from the kitchen.
One day, I was out of her sight a minute too long, and I decided
to give myself bangs with a pair of arts and crafts zig zag scissors.
Now the paint was chipped and weathered. The thick
door gave me a little trouble and I needed to jolt it open. Inside,
I breathed a big gulp of unfamiliar air. It used to smell like
clean clothes and baked ziti. Now it smelled of dust and stripped
wood. I looked in the front room and saw sharp cornered chairs
and with hardly a cushion at all. Why would someone ever buy those?
I felt as if I was alone. And because I knew I wasnt
the only one there, the silence was eerie. I stood there stiff,
palms drenched and perfectly still. I listened for anything. Finally,
I heard muffled voices that grew louder and louder and I could
tell that both voices were angry. Then a door upstairs opened,
as if one voice was trying to escape.
I dont give a shit. I come down here
to see you. Not hang out with your girlfriend or her kids!
You little shit! Why cant you just make things easy
on me? Stop giving me such a hard time.
Bring me home. Fuck you and your cunt of a girlfriend. I
dont owe you shit!
I thought, yes! Thats it! Tell him off! I
burst over to the edge of the stairs, kicking off my flip flops,
and strained to hear what would happen next. A set of footsteps
raced across the upstairs floor, and it sounded as though someone
chased right behind, though I couldnt be sure. Then suddenly,
a loud BANG!
I raced upstairs, then reached the hallway and looked
through the doorway into the bathroom. I stopped and stared at
the scene before me. The little shit was a fighter,
but he was no match for his father. The boy was on the ground,
his sneakers squeaking back and forth on the tile. The father
crouched over him, one arm holding the boys head, the other
arm shoved against the boys face. Was he trying to kill
him? The boy gulped and struggled to breath. The father pushed
his hand into the boys face throwing all his weight behind
it. Then I realized something was in his hand, something he was
shoving into the boys mouth. When the father shifted his
weight, I finally saw what it was. He was jamming a bar of soap
down the boys throat.
The boys eyes were wide and glanced at me
in horror, but quickly looked away with shame, shame, maybe because
he felt he couldnt protect me, or maybe because he had been,
yet again, overpowered.
What are you doing? GET OFF OF HIM!
But the father continued to push the soap into the
The Little Shit was an athlete who particularly loved baseball,
had a passion for it. Well, that day so did I. A few years back
my mother had given us both beautiful, high quality wooden bats
with our names engraved on them. I saw his, lying on the hallway
floor. I picked it up, ran into the bathroom and swung, missing
the fathers head by a few inches. Maybe I was trying to
hit him, or maybe I was trying to scare him. Who knows? The bat
crashed into the wall with a big cloud of white dust.
Im not asking you! I shouted,
and thought, next time I wont miss.
by Tuwana Bowles
I left my limp hand
in your back pocket.
It must feel good
to your backside
because you havent
the bus and sit
in the front row.
Now my hand
no feeling at all.
Youre smiling as you walk
home. You feel good.
In your room, you
put your wallet on
the tray sitting
neatly on your dresser.
You remove your
pants to fold them
and you notice my hand;
pull it out to examine
my light brown skin
the French manicure
and you wince.
It is my left one.
You run yours
over your shirt pocket
take out the box
bend down on one knee
and ask the same question
pushing the ring
on my stiff finger.
by Melanie Reddy
it slows down.
it even stalls.
it stares me in
to the next
itll stand still
by Melanie Reddy
Your ugly fills me with
the piece of cotton at the point
of thy precious needle
sucked dry by a plunger out of
a hollow, empty cooker
that is met briefly by
the flash of red which really is
go for green.
My finger presses the plastic
plunger that is forced through skin
like armor worn by medieval soldiers.
But it still
pushes and slowly the ugly disappears
like the beach in high tide
covering only what it needs
but undressing the inside
like a stripper.
by Theisha Allen
Drilled to my back
with black ink
swollen for days
but it was worth it
covering something that wasnt amazing
now its a part of me