Anna is sitting naked on a high-backed chair; and is looking into a cheap aluminum-framed mirror. It is a small room in a grey depilated apartment building, which is just sparsely furnished.

Only two plastic chairs in a corner, used more as a resting place for dirty clothes than the tired behinds of cheap customers.

A small TV mounted on the wall, almost permanently on mute; and the faded screen alternating between static and a music video featuring a few garish characters from hell.

A double bed in another corner covered with a dark purple quilt. It is presently occupied by a naked hairless man, with a pale and bulging beer belly, a prominent dark and hairy belly button staring at the room.

Two lamps on two side tables on either side of the bed; one throwing a red glare across the room and the other indecisive in its flickering.

The room smells faintly of cheap sex and sweat; and the stink of unwashed bodies. The room smells of desires – already fulfilled and deeply regretted.

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The man slowly gets up, grabs hold of a soiled towel and wipes his hairy genitals. He examines the towel and disgusted with what he sees, throws it back on the floor and slowly starts getting dressed. A tattered wallet slips out of the back-pocket of his jeans. He picks it up, opens it, seems frustrated on what he sees and puts it back in the pocket.

The naked image frozen in the mirror, turns a steely gaze in the man’s direction and her hand inches towards the red panic button, an automated motion. The man catches the movement of the hand out of the corner of his eyes and sees the red button. He knows what it is. A button which when pressed, brings up two burly gentlemen in cheap polyester suits with shining boots and dead eyes. Suddenly the man gets afraid. He knows what those shiny boots can do to a man’s groin.

‘Fuck!’ He slips his hand back into the jeans’ pocket, pulls out the wallet and throws a few bills on the bed. The steely eyes in the mirror catch the complete struggle in detail and the hand withdraws from the red button. He looks at the curving line of Anna’s hips peeking from under the chair’s back and licks his dry lips. He looks inside the empty wallet and dejectedly puts it back and gets out without a second glance.

Anna gets up, locks the door and clicks the safety chain is in place. Picking up the soiled towel from the floor, she wipes down herself between the legs. She picks up a cheap disposable lighter and lights up a cigarette; and walks out on the balcony.

Anna looks out, oblivious of her naked body and a few drunken leering cheers from down below in the street. Her gaze is directed at a couple hurrying through the light early0evening rain, their shoes disturbing the small pools of rain water.

The man is tall and is wearing a dark colored overcoat. His naked head is gleaming with rain water. The woman is also wearing a dark overcoat and is tightly clutching the man’s arm. Suddenly she slips but the man’s quick reflexes prevent her from falling. She looks up at him with a small grateful smile. The couple walks on and vanishes around the corner. Anna takes a deep drag on her cigarette and wishes she was the woman in the street, safe in the warm embrace of a man – her man.


The couple is still walking in the street and the woman is still grasping the man’s arm. They walk on and enter a small pizza place. The man walks to the counter. The woman removes her coat and moves towards a small table in the corner. She adjusts the chair and examines her surroundings.

A small, very small place with cheap furnishing and old movie posters on the walls; only one other table occupied. There is a tired-looking man, sitting with a small girl, five or six years of age. The woman eyes the child with interest.

She is wearing a beige skirt and a red woolen cap; and is busy finishing a bun smeared with ketchup. She finishes it and wipes her mouth with the back of her hand.

‘Let us go, I am full!’, she looks up at her father, who smiles and gets up.

The woman thinks of her two children, killed in a hit-and-run incident a few years ago. She smiles sadly and prepares to greet her approaching husband.


The man and his daughter walk out on the grey street, him man holding the little girl’s hand. The girl tries to jump into every puddle, sometimes splashing her father’s trousers. But he does not mind and instead encourages her on with a smile. Then the sun comes out suddenly and paints everything with a golden-yellow warmth.

The man and the child pass by a small playing area, where a few children are enjoying the coldness of wet slides, laughing in their sodden clothes. Their giggles and laughter catch the fancy of the little girl. She drags her father towards the park. They stand outside the fence, holding hands.

A boy stands out from amongst the small crowd of playing children. Almost as old as the man’s daughter, he is trying to swing as high as possible. Suddenly, he loses his grip and falls down. A woman runs up to him, picking him up and wiping his bloody nose.

‘Look what you have done’ she sounds scared.

The boy smiles a teary smile which calms her down a bit. They both collect their things and prepare to go home.

Looking at the empty oscillating swing, the little girl looks up at her father with pleading eyes.

‘No. You know we are getting late.’

They walk onwards and enter a hospital. She has cancer and today is her appointment for the first dose of chemotherapy.


‘Keep looking up. It will stop the bleeding’, the mother tells her son.

They are both hurrying home.

‘Don’t worry Mom, I am fine. Look there is no more bleeding’. The woman looks at her son and seeing the clotting blood on his upper lip, sighs with relief. They walk on and enter a gray apartment building. The lobby and the staircase reek of stale piss and poverty.

They start climbing the stairs. The boy is happily and is totally oblivious of the depressing surroundings, but the woman wishes the stairs never end. She thinks of her alcoholic and abusive husband sitting in front of the TV, scratching his hairy belly and thinking of some new means of torturing his wife.

They reach an apartment door on the second floor.

‘The door to my personal hell’, the woman shrugs in frustration and open the door.

‘Back so soon?’ a deeply slurred voice echoes from the land of doom.

‘Come here’, the sarcasm beckons and the boy, scared, quickly runs to his room.

The woman approaches the man and looks at the leather belt with the heavy buckle clenched tightly in his hand. A cold shiver runs down her spine.

‘Please God no’, she silently prays but God does not live in the houses of the poor.

The man gets up with a menacing silence. The woman hangs down her head with a silent helplessness and faces the other way.

Once, twice, thrice, the woman loses count and stops screaming after five as the leather traces liquid fire across her back. Finally, the man is tired and sinks back into the sofa in a drunken stupor.

The woman gets out on the balcony and rests her bruised back against the cold rain soaked wall.

She looks enviously at Anna smoking on the next balcony.

Anna throws down the butt and goes inside her apartment.

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