One of the Willing

Submitted into Contest #102 in response to: Write a story about someone losing faith in an institution.... view prompt


Sad Speculative

Content Warning: Sexual Context, Drug and Alcohol Use, Death, Suicide, Apathy towards Suicide and Death.

The following narrative does not mirror the author’s perspective on these subjects. It is a character perspective from someone who lacks empathy.

Everyone has questions.

Some people have answers.

The real question is, how many people are willing to accept all the answers?

Nydia was willing.

The flash of the LED lights always gave Nydia a headache, echoes of shitty club music pounding within her skulls. Today was a terrible day to run out of Advil. She struggled through her third cup of coffee for the hour while watching the dancers up on stage.

Nydia knew most of them, but some of the young prey left as fast as they came. Nights on 9-inch heels and stringy outfits were far from worth the crumpled dollar bills thrown across the stage. Foul catcalls and drunk grabbing hands often left much to be desired of a career.

“Give me something hot and strong, god knows I need it tonight,” Esmé slapped down a couple of crumpled bills onto Nydia’s bar, feet kicked up onto an empty barstool. The wooly sweater covered up the flashy outfit underneath. It was such a shame since it was Nydia’s favorite, especially since she was the one who picked it out.

“Not sure you deserve it with the shit tips you give,” Nydia smirked as she held up the lousy dollar bill that was left after ringing up the drink, moving to work her magic with the various colored bottles that invaded her work station.

“Did you hear about Maggie?” Esmé leaned in over the screaming of the speakers.

“Maggie? One of the new girls who started last month?” Nydia asked as she pushed the glass of hard liquor towards Esmé, watching as her bright red lipstick left its mark on the glass. Nydia would rather see the marks on her own skin.

“Poor thing was found dead in her apartment, drug overdose,” Esmé bounced her fingernails along with the glass, the words seeming to strike deeper than the surface. Nydia couldn’t imagine the pain she felt, the words meaning nothing beyond another body in the ground.

“Sounds like more wasted potential from too much snow. Seems like such a waste to dance for drug money then spend it right back on it.” Nydia retorted nonchalantly as she refilled Esmé’s glass.

“Don’t let Molly hear you talking like that,” Esmé warned. “She is still in the dressing room crying up a ocean. Apparently the two were sorority sisters, should of figured since they were always attached at the hip.”

“Not much we can do now. I wonder when the replacement is going to get hired.” Esmé frowned, eyes glaring through Nydia’s skull.

“Can’t you show a bit more concern? Maggie just died and it really hurt Molly! Its like you have no soul.”

“You’ve seen every inch of me,” Nydia shot back. “If I had a soul, you would of found it by now.” When Esmé didn’t give up the death glare, Nydia waved her white flag with a sigh of defeat. “What do you want me to do about it? It’s not like I can wave a magic wand and Maggie will suddenly be back from her forever high.”

“Would it kill you to show a little compassion?”

“Yes, it would.” Esmé reached across the bar counter and smacked her arm, the length of Esmé’s acrylic nails just scratching the surface of her skin.

“You are going to take that stick out of your ass and say something nice to Molly, or else you are sleeping on the couch for the rest of the week.” Esmé chugged the rest of her drink and left for the stage before Nydia could put another word in, leaving her to pout as she now had to spend her break faking a bunch of emotions rather than doing something she would actually enjoy. Misty, the new manager, came by and took over for her, giving Nydia the chance to book it to the dressing room. Asking the various dancers where Molly was, Nydia narrowed it down to a single room.

“Molly, it’s Nydia. Can I come in?” Nydia stood there like an idiot for a whole minute, knocking on the tarnished door. Molly had to be in there, she was seen going in at the start of the night, and she clearly was nowhere else. “Anybody home?” Nydia tried the doorknob, finding the door to be unlocked.

Inside the room, slumped over onto the floor, was Molly with skin as white as snow, sitting in a pool of her own blood with a bloody pocket knife in Molly’s loose grip. It was a terrible mess, and sadly, not the first one she had seen since working the club. Hell, it wasn’t even the second. Nydia grumbled as she pulled out her phone and started the protocol of calling the cops before getting Misty to close the club for the night.

So much for Molly crying out her grief.

Telling Esmé the reason for the cops showing up was not as easy as telling Misty or any of the other dancers. Of course, many of the other girls shed some tears for the young girl who had followed in Maggie’s footsteps. Those girls probably imagined themselves in the dame shoes, which Nydia got with how often this very thing occurred.

They all saw a tragedy.

Nydia saw an annoyance that came with a lot of paperwork.

It was a couple of hours before Esmé was calm enough to sit still. The news of Maggie didn’t hit Esmé as hard as Molly, but Maggie was a one-and-done overdose death. Molly decided to steal the whole show for the night and stab everyone else in the heart with her grief. Esmé cried the entire night into Nydia’s chest, repeatedly asking, ‘why did this have to happen to such a sweet girl?’

Nydia knew why but was smart enough to fake emotions for Esmé. All the death and lost potential Nydia had witnessed long before Esmé even joined the world of sex work had given Nydia the answer.

The world is a shit place, with shit people and hardly anything to live for.

Molly was smart and selfish, taking the easy way out. No sweet girl goes through with such an act on short notice. Nydia had to applaud the confidence to take control because hardly anybody else would.

But Nydia would never tell Esmé that.

Esmé couldn’t handle the truth.

July 10, 2021 14:56

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Peter Gaskin
13:50 Jul 22, 2021

Hi! I like how you've narrated from the perspective of someone with completely different ideals -- that takes skill to write naturally -- and this story works as an exercise of that skill. But consider how much more powerful the story could be if you put Nydia in a situation where her callousness is called into question. Would she care if Esme did something to hurt herself? Maybe Esme comes to the realization that Nydia would be just as uncaring if something happened to her, maybe that causes tension between them. Nydia doesn't have to have...


Lynn Penny
17:45 Jul 22, 2021

I really like that concept! I’m gonna be honest, I had absolutely no idea what I was writing until I was halfway through. I was struggling with the prompt so I’m surprised I even got anything.


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