The Brothel

by Constance Frenzen

He told the owner he wanted
number 32, the number pinned
to her small blue dress as she
sat behind the glass showcase
where she waited with the other
girls to be chosen.

He followed her down a twisted
hallway – its odd angles lined
with closed doors where sounds
of muffled male moans seeped
through the cracks.

They entered her room—cramped
and dim, a drooped curtain offered
a small sky through smudged glass,
a doll in faded print rested on the bed’s pillow,
the sheets, re-tucked, were still rumpled.

With broken words she told him
her name was Teeda then methodically
began to undress, her bare skin
revealing an adolescent body
below her painted face.

His eyes wanted to take in her body yet
couldn’t stop from circling back to that face,
which he remembered as exotic beneath
the glass showcase lights, but removed
from the pageantry, there was nothing
to obscure her vacant expression.

He lay on the bed. She climbed
on top of him. His finger tips slid
carefully along her soft skin.
She began to writhe her body
but his hands gently stopped her.
Then wrapping his arms around
her, she seemed to understand,
took the doll into hers—
and they slept like that, together,
in the dim light of the room.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Philip Brautigam
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