Buttons & Lace

By: Penelope Sky

“Clean yourself.” He nodded toward the shower.

I turned around even though I knew he would look at my ass. I got under the water and tried to find comfort in the warmth. The other women didn’t look at me, keeping to themselves and remaining quiet.

I could feel the man’s eyes on my body. He was staring at me hard, his intentions as clear as a billboard. I’d always been shy about my naked body. Having a stranger stare at me like this just made it a million times worse.

I cleared my thoughts and focused on the water and the soap. I washed my body clean, knowing there was a chance I wouldn’t shower again for a long time. Might as well take advantage of the privilege.

When I washed the conditioner from my hair, I heard one of the women sob. She was standing in the corner, her arms wrapped around her chest. She was heaving, her chest convulsing. All her fear was heavy in the sounds she made.

I listened to it and felt despair wash over me.

There was no escape.

Except death.


I had dinner with the other girls in a small room with two tables. There were twenty of us, but we weren’t allowed to speak to one another. We weren’t allowed to eat with utensils. Three guards stood there and watched us, carrying rifles and handguns.

I wasn’t hungry, but I forced myself to eat anyway. I may need my strength to fight someone off, and I needed nutrition in order to do that. The man who watched me shower was there. His eyes were trained on me the entire time. The same lust still burned in his eyes. He eye-fucked me while I ate dinner, thinking of the monstrous things he could do to me.

I felt sick.

I tried to make eye contact with one of the other girls. Maybe they knew where we were going. Maybe they knew of an escape route. Maybe they knew what these men wanted us for.

Based on the other captives, I could only draw one conclusion.

They were traffickers.

They would sell us to the highest bidder, putting us in unspeakable places to do unspeakable things.

I’d rather die a million times.

After dinner, we were returned to our cells. I wasn’t sure if I was the only one who had a private room. Some might think it was a privilege. But I saw it as a weakness. There was always power in numbers. Right then, I was totally alone.

And I knew that man would come for me.

He would try to rape me just like the other one.

But he wouldn’t succeed.


A week came and went, and the ship still moved at full speed. I felt the ship rock with the waves. Sometimes we encountered tough terrain, and the ship would shake violently. Aggressive dips would happen out of nowhere, and our food would slide across the table during meals. Sometimes it was so bad I couldn’t sleep despite how exhausted and injured I was.

During my alone time, I thought about Jacob. I felt sorry for him, despite the fact my fate was probably worse than his. He was probably dead somewhere, floating in the ocean. Or he escaped and was worried sick about me. He was in a foreign country and didn’t know the exact protocol for contacting the authorities. He could call home, but how would that help?

Not knowing what happened to me must be the worst thing of all. He probably didn’t know I was on a ship. And even if he did know, he had no idea what it looked like or how to identify it. And how would the police chase it down?

Jacob wouldn’t come to my rescue.

By the eighth day, I was restless. I was tired of being stuck inside the ship. The motion sickness was getting to me, and I threw up a few times. No one gave me information no matter how many times I asked.

That night, I couldn’t sleep. The panic was starting to get to me. I was trapped, far away from home, and I had no plan of escape. All the men on board had guns, and the women were too afraid to fight. If I could communicate with them, I might be able to organize a coup. We outnumbered them, so it was possible. And I would rather die in the attempt than face whatever would happen when we docked.

I would rather die than become a sex slave.

My eyes moved to the porthole just above me. Watching the water lap against it as the ship rocked gave me a small amount of comfort. It was my form of music, the gentle splash of the waves against the hull of the ship. When I stared, it helped me relax. It stopped my thoughts, and I entered into a tranquil state. Nothing existed at all.

The door creaked open behind me. The sound was so slight no one else would have noticed it but me. Ever since I’d been captured, I relied on my senses more than ever before. Sound was my most critical one. I could anticipate events before they actually happened. I could pick up voices when they were drawing near. I could detect danger with enough time to prepare for it.

I knew exactly who came to visit me in the middle of the night. I’d been waiting for him. He thought I was asleep, ignorant to the hunter who came for me. He thought I was so stupid, blissful in my naiveté.

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