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She tosses the lipstick-stained stub to the ground

Grinds it into the dirt with the heel of her stiletto

Inhales deeply

And turns back.

To one more man

One more beer

One more night of leering, groping, prodding, snorting

In the suffocating blackness

Where her soul vanishes inside an empty shell

And the wounds of her past sink into pits of pretense.


When the artificial smile and the artificial hair and the artificial nails

Reveal artificial canvases of pretend horizons,

All she can ask is



Then the door slams shut.

The lights go out.

Coins heavy in her pocket, she draws her coat tighter

To keep out the cold

To keep in the pain

To cover the scars

From probing eyes that pierce her skin once again.


Guarding her fractured heart, she walks

And walks

Footsteps echoing on the wet pavement

Until the key in her hand fits

And she stumbles down the steps,

Past her snoring neighbour spread out on the sagging couch

To the room where her treasure lies.

Eyes firmly closed with feathery lashes; ebony locks curled around the face of an angel.

A tiny hand.

Reaches out.

Holds, grasps, squeezes, breathes.

And she remembers.

Once again

The answer to the question,



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