Grabbing a rag that had been soaking in sour water atop her dresser, she wiped along her neck, across her face, and under her arms. The girl dressed herself in a red skirt with yellow stripes and a shirt with a yellow screen-printed daisy. Her feet were dusty and the pink toe nail polish was chipped. Summer was reserved for colorful skirts and flip flops.
The girl walked downstairs and met a few others in the kitchen. They worked to set the table and to prepare hot cereal. Moments before the food was ready to be served, a curvy, grayed woman and her male companion approached the table and sat down with a heavy thud.
The grayed woman grabbed the girl’s wrist, “You look tired. Did you sleep?”
Smiling at the woman who provided a thorny home for both her and her sister, she did not respond. Not everyone slept well under the grayed woman’s roof, but the girl savored her sleep. Her thoughts were sweeter and her body was stronger while she slumbered.
The morning dulled. The girl and her sister took turns brushing each other’s hair and tying it back into braids. They pulled the blankets over their shared mattress and set the girl’s doll and her sister’s stuffed rabbit on top. The grayed woman called for the girls and they met her at the bottom of the stairs. She inspected their hair, checked their teeth, and asked them to turn in place before shooing them out the door.
Once on the sidewalk the girl and her sister linked hands. The girl brought her sister’s fist up to her lips and kissed it gently before letting go. Her sister’s eyes were wet with tears. The girl’s eyes were stale with detachment. The girl turned her back on her sister and began to walk. She could feel her sister’s terror as she stepped away in fear and obedience. She continued to move forward until she could no longer see her sister’s small frame.
“What’s your name?” a man in a four door sedan asked as he pulled over. His car idled as he waited for the girl’s response.
With a shy expression, the girl countered, “What would you like it to be?”
Though his words attempted to exude tenderness the man replied with a cold stare, “Cute. Tell me your name, honey.”
The girl answered and swallowed hard. She walked closer to the passenger side door, peering inside. Her eyes darted from the air freshener sandwiched between the cushions to the dark leather saddlebag on the floor. She looked at everything but the man.
The grayed woman appeared and stepped next to the girl. The man and the grayed woman traded small talk. He grabbed a few bills from the pocket of his bag and tossed them on the seat closest to the open car window. The grayed woman gathered the loose bills and the man opened his car door. Without any further exchange of words, the girl climbed inside. The man was pleased with the simplicity of the girl’s surrender. The girl counted her breaths and closed her eyes.
There are 27 million slaves worldwide.
17,500 people are trafficked into the US each year.
There are roughly 200,000 slaves working in the US right now.
Modern-day slavery grosses $32 billion dollars each year.
Four children are sold into slavery worldwide every 120 seconds.
Consider joining the work being done to end modern-day slavery.