That night, I reached the brothel earlier than usual.

Brothels are a lot like chameleons. They look different during different times of the day.

Once the night has set in, brothels look like a marketplace of sorts. Different kinds of skins are put on display, and the customers carefully choose one (sometimes, more) depending on what they prefer. The music always plays loudly, mostly to mask the noises coming from the many rooms. Even the noises vary. Sometimes, it’s the general rocking of rickety beds and bed-posts. At other times, the bawling of the fatherless babies of the prostitutes. Occasionally, it’s the sharp cry of a young virgin forcefully entered.

But that night, I had reached the brothel before any other customer. The place was surprisingly clean, and mostly empty. A young woman was sleeping near the doorway, presumably tired after a hard day’s work, cooking and cleaning for the residents of that brothel.

“You are early today,” the owner remarked. She was a thin, pale woman, dressed in a simple saree and her hair neatly tied in a bun. Without her dark red saree and all the make-up that I usually saw her in, she was hardly recognisable.

“I was told that the early birds get the prettiest and youngest worms,” I replied, looking around to see if any pretty young ones were close.

“Pretty ones don’t reach here. Young ones, yes. How young would you go?” she asked me, getting up from her chair.

“Umm…” I wondered what to reply. I liked them young, but how young was I willing to go, was something I had never considered.

 It was difficult for me because I never got an appropriate choice. People like me are hard to find. It’s not that I have been a choosy kid, but the truth is I have never been given a choice.

Even as a child, I did not get to pick the children who played with me. I was always a choice. All my past lovers left me because I was always an option for them and not a “priority” or a “preference”. I have been treated like a leftover food item which is never given a second thought before discarding. Thus, for a person like me decide to choose anything becomes difficult.

However, retreating from the flashback, I registered that the owner was still gazing at me looking for an answer.  Even though she knew that I didn’t have a choice being the only “girl” looking out for a “girl”, she eyed me questionably. And this was the harshest truth that I had to accept.  I had no choice on my sexuality. Therefore, as usual, I couldn’t answer and unlike any other customer, paid her without receiving any service.

 I had been early to brothel most of the nights, in the fear of getting caught. But today was the earliest.

/* Backstory Alert:

So, a few years ago, somewhere around 2016, I took part in the writer’s search organised by Having cleared the first round, I was assigned the task for the completion of a story in the second round. The story you read below is the second round task and the content written in red is provided by the esteemed writers of and the content in purple is written by me. Also, TMI but I cleared this round as well, making it to the third and the final round for the writer’s search however not clearing it. The story is fictitious and holds no relevance to any person or entity living or dead.

Now that you’ve read the story above and the backstory, I hope it is relatable. */  

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