light and shadow photo of woman in dark room holding a cigarette

Some Character

Dear Sophia:

It was that time of night where you make most of your bad decisions and none of your best. A weeknight, the pickup was five minutes from my home, so I thought, okay, another five dollar job and then off to bed. I pull up to an address that was dark and quiet. There were about 20 cars in front of the house. Some of them looked like junk. I did not want to be there, it felt like the set up of a slasher film.

“Four minutes” I said to myself. “Four minutes” Rideshare only makes you wait four minutes for a rider.

I sat there with the doors locked, watching the clock. A young woman comes out looking like Lisbeth Salander, the heroine from the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. High top boots, artfully ripped leggings, a tough girl jacket. Something like a cross between a grunge girl and an anime character. She’s carrying a huge bottle of something alcoholic. It wasn’t full – she had a bit of it beforehand.She opens the back door, we make eye contact and she says “oh, you’re a woman, I’ll sit in the front then” opens the front door, sits down and buckles up. I greet her with a hi, swipe to start the trip and realise it’s at least a 45 minute trip. I sigh and say “well, we’re going for a ride eh? Do you want to choose the music?”

“Oh wow, yes, thank you, what do you like?” She said sweetly.

“Anything is fine, I like listening to new music” I reply. She set up her playlist and blue-toothed her phone.

We started chatting about the music, and other small talk. She starts talking about her life, bragging about how she can always get a place to stay in the city when her and her friends go out by finding a guy to go to bed with or shaking down some concerned-looking couple by acting real young and naive.

Initially I found her brittle bravado profoundly annoying. I looked at her again – she was very young, younger than I thought. I wondered why she thought I’d be impressed by this. Perhaps I’d be impressed by her hardness? Her tough shell?

She asked me if I can read the console on the Prius. I said no, had to watch a video to figure it out. That I’d tried to hack it into English, but the 2012 doesn’t do that. She starts reading it to me. I startled and asked “You speak Japanese?” “Yep” she said. She told me that she was bored, that she’d reached out to twelve of her ‘friends’ and offered to come over with the booze for a bit of love. The first one to respond got her company and had to pay her transport. She looked sideways at me – checking my reaction. “That’s one way to go about it” I said. “Do you find that disturbing?” she asked. “I was young once too you know” I said evenly.

She told me that she’d done it before. As we neared the house I finally asked her what she did for work. I think I knew the answer already, but still asked. She gave me that crooked side wise look again “I shouldn’t tell you this, I am sure you’ll judge me, but I work as an escort.”

“It’s a job” I said. She gave me a funny look and a lopsided smile as she got out of the car. “Bye now”

She got out and greeted her ‘friend’ with a hug. I made eye contact with him, and held it long enough that he knew I saw him and would remember him. He nodded and turned away holding her possessively around the shoulders.

It’s funny how humans are. We spend so much time classifying people into little boxes and ultimately it destroys the humanity of the person and ourselves. In the end, all I felt was a little sad. Every adjective I’ve used to describe her here is some kind of shortcut, a signal that you’ll understand, but who was she really?

This girl has haunted me ever since. I just hope that she gets a love that finds her instead of the other way around.

Love, Lilo