The Spark Between Us
Updated: Apr 28, 2022
by Aurelie Msiza
At the corner of 15th and Maine, Olivia found herself exhaling a breath of smoke. Olivia never used to smoke, but she had grown fond of the numbing feeling; her lungs stung as she inhaled with her train of thought traveling to the station just moments before. "How much for a good time?" Olivia had gotten used to this question; many saw it as selling your body; she had felt it as selling your soul. She looked at the man, examining him. She took notice of the tan line burnt around his ring finger. The man opened his wallet revealing his credit cards, money, and a photo of his wife and kids. Looking at the photo Olivia remembered a similar picture, a happier picture. Olivia's daughter was blonde with oceanic blue eyes, fair skin, and a freckled face. It had been a whole 92 hours since Olivia's daughter had left with a social worker. Life had seemed to be taking away everything from Olivia's life. First her job, her marriage, and now her daughter. The man pulled out a $20 note. Olivia walked with the man across the damp, dimly lit street over to the Brooklyn apartments. She hadn't forgotten the creaking sound the door made when the man closed it behind them. The man was as round as a globe, taking up half the room. His skin moved in ripples, with sweat oozing from his neck. Olivia distinctively remembered the smell of oil and grease from his clothes. His breath smelt of alcohol, he kissed Olivia's neck slowly, as he whispered, "I'm on top." He unbuckled his belt. Olivia couldn't help but dream; she needed something to escape this reality. Olivia had dreamt of everything she couldn't afford: a fully furnished house, with cabinets full of food and a marble kitchen. She proceeded to summit the staircase leading to the bedrooms. She opened the first door to two beautiful kids, asleep. She continued her journey down the corridor to the master bedroom. She opened the door to an all-too-familiar face, it was him. The man she has sold her soul to just moments before; she was in his house. Olivia grinned, she walked up to the man and whispered "$67." Olivia walked out of the house and lit a cigarette, only to toss her lighter towards the front door. Smoke not only filled her lungs but the house too. $67 was how much it cost to have a good time for Olivia. It was the exact price for a lighter, 32 liters of lighter fluid and a packet of cigarettes. The picture of the burning house and its residents satisfied Olivia, and she no longer felt numb. "Keep the change, cupcake." This was the alarm that had damned Olivia to reality. The man closed the door on his way out while Olivia counted her week's earnings. "$60 dollars," she whispered under her breath. Olivia made her way back to the corner, where she now sat. She finished her last cigarette and smiled, she thought to herself that she wouldn't need another cancerous stick again. She made her way to the nearest gas station reciting in her head, $60. That was the exact price for a lighter, $32 liters of lighter fluid, and what Olivia needed to feel something again.
Aurelie Msiza is a 20-year-old computer science major at Lincoln Memorial University. Proudly South African she is the reigning Miss Galaxy South Africa 2022 and recipient of the Woman of Stature 2022 Youth Ambassador Award. She began writing in primary school and hopes to continue to nurture her passion.