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The Miraculous Mandarin
Girls like me aren't supposed to believe in
miracles. Those sorts of things happen to Bo-Peep types who
tend their sheep on the sides of mountains. Not girls who dress
up and dance on window stages hoping to entice men into buying
the only wares we have to sell.
I was lower even than that, involuntary starvation
dieting making me lose my curves until I was more boyish than
not - a state not good for business. One day when I was finally
desperate for some daily bread, I put on shoes that left me
on pointe, skirts shorter than not and ventured down the street
corner. It was dangerous, but I was sure that another day without
food would be far worse than any fate I might be risking.
I was sure because everyone thinks
they know what happens to girls who bare it in the street.
The cold pressed my nipples hard against my
thin shirt as they approached, two men, one dark, the other
light. Dark Haired said they wanted me. Both at the same time.
Gold at their necks and wrists glinted, enticing me. Tempted
and desperate I went with them. Not back to my place but up
to theirs. They looked young, prosperous and dangerous. As we
walked, I imagined myself fulfilling their perverted needs and
then stealing whatever I could get hold of for myself. It's
easy to feel better about being used if you're well paid.
"Have you ever had two at once, Little
One?" Dark Haired asked.
I smiled. Men are so simple.
"Don't I look like I would have? I can
take men one after another all day. All night." I laughed
in a way I hoped was knowing. "I'm the best you'll
My eyes were fixed on his gold chain, imagining
it in my pocket, sold, the money buying warmth and safety.
Dark Haired laughed a little. "Face of
a virgin. Mind of a whore."
Blond Man was silent, but nodded. I shivered.
Still, a trick was a trick and I'd get mine off them. Whores
can't mind insults.
As we reached their building's stairwell,
Blond Man's hand closed like a vice on my arm. It was then I
realized I was the object being stolen.
"No no no no!"
My voice was tight, hysterical.
"Shut up, you!"
The last time I said "no," I was
naked across their bed, one holding my shoulders while the other
alternated between whipping me with Blond Man's wide leather
belt and violating me. The two took turns, holding me down and
hurting me. It was clear they liked pain (giving it anyway)
and said my striped bottom would be part of the enticement.
For this wasn't a simple abduction. Nor even
rape. (For a whore can be raped, whatever you might
think.) I was to be bait.
"You expect me to wear that?" My
hand indicated the soiled little girl's dress, socks and heels
strewn across the floor. The belt welts stung and my own clothes
were torn beyond repair. Clearly these were not just what I
was expected to wear - they were my only option besides nudity.
And in many ways seemed a far worse option.
Dark Haired scooped the dress, socks and black
heels up and threw them at me.
"That's right. You'll be perfect, a little
girl sweetmeat to bring up the marks."
Blond Man nodded his agreement so I looked
again at the clothes. Did they seriously plan to be my pimps?
I tried to reason with them.
"But what I earn is barely enough to
feed me. How can you expect to share it?"
Dark Haired laughed, grabbing my arms and
"Because we're not just going to take
your fee off them. They'll be so glad to get out of here alive
they won't even miss their wallets."
Great. So now I'd gone from being a whore
to falling in with a pair of thieves. Wouldn't mother be so
I dressed slowly in the child's clothes, innocence
made obscene on my longer woman's form. Still, looking at myself
in the room's broken mirror, I knew the power of this fantasy.
Maybe they'd taught me something I could use later, I thought,
trying to calm myself. How bad could this be?
"Now braid your hair."
Those were the only words I ever heard from
Blond Man. His blue eyes gleamed with something more frightening
than the dark-haired man's bluster. I braided my hair into two
plaits, tying them with strips torn from the rags which were
all that remained of my former shirt.
Finally, I strapped on the heels which seemed
to curl my toes beyond the highest pointe, if that's possible.
Without a word Blond Man lifted me into my
"Dance," Dark Haired commanded.
The first mark up was a late middle-ager. He
might as well have had "poor school teacher" tattooed
on his forehead. The man was eager, wanting me to call him "Daddy,"
wanting me to "be his dirty little girl." So eager,
he had his hand under my skirt before he ever saw the other
They were very businesslike, snatching him
up between them, their hands quickly emptying his pockets as
he protested feebly. I wanted to warn him to stop, but being
a coward just backed into the corner.
"Now keep your mouth shut you
dirty old man," said Dark Haired, offering Poor-School-Teacher
a kick. "We wouldn't want Wifey to find out how you spend
your free time."
Blond Man roughly yanked off the man's worn
wedding ring before the two threw him down the stairs.
I had my eyes closed when Blond Man lifted
me back into the window.
Dark Haired lashed my legs with Blond Man's
"Dance," he commanded.
I danced, trying to feel free, trying not to
think of them. I felt the ache in my toes trapped in their high-heel
prison. Still I danced, smiling, laughing. Whores are good at
The second mark was a young man - no, a boy
really. Dressed in his prep school blazer, wearing a prefect
tie. I could see his attraction from the doorway as it pushed
its way through his gray flannels. Prefect's hands didn't get
to touch me before They had him, Blond Man holding him off the
floor while Dark Haired emptied his pockets.
There was little money - not even enough for
my price. They berated him for that, accusing him of planning
to rob me and telling Prefect they would let him know what being
robbed was like.
Dark Haired pocketed Prefect's watch while
Blond Man kicked him harder and harder, making him beg and scream.
I wanted to help him, I swear. I didn't enjoy watching them
hurt him. But it was frightening and I ended up in the corner,
curled up, watching from behind dry covered eyes.
They threw Prefect down the stairs as well.
Blond Man came in the room before I could
stand up. Before I could get out of the corner, he threw me
across the bed, whipping me with Dark Haired's belt. This time
striping the front as well as back of my thighs as I struggled
He tucked the back of the child's skirt into
its own waistband, baring me.
Dark Haired slapped my right calf.
He didn't need to tell me to dance this time.
I danced, keeping my mind completely blank,
my eyes wide. There were no tears. Whores don't cry. I told
myself to do as I was told and they'd free me. That the marks
deserved it anyway - that they would have cheated and hurt me.
And was that really any better than the men hurting them?
I danced and turned my bare bottom toward
the window, shaking it and lifting it as though the marks were
When I turned back, I was being watched by
a small man dressed in rich but extraordinary clothes. His eyes
burned into me, so much so I stepped back and nearly fell off
my window perch, hand touching the floor to keep my balance.
By the time I got up he was gone. Seeing him made me feel odd
- losing his eyes on me was both loss and relief.
But the small man wasn't really gone. The
next instant there was a knock and he stood in the doorway,
his oddly red eyes taking in the entire room, including me.
Including the men. Those eyes frightened me, making me want
to run away. He was odd looking - deformed, a dwarf really.
Like something from another land. Or someone magic.
Dark Haired saw only his rich clothes, his
small size. He lifted me quickly from the window.
"Dance," he hissed at me in tones
And so I danced. Not one of innocence, one
of seduction, my fear forgotten as I focused on pleasing this
creature, luring him toward me and into the room.
And I did lure him. His aura glowed red and
he leapt for me, his hands tearing at my small girl dress as
he tried to drag me toward the bed. His hands were so strong.
When Dark Haired and Blond Man tried to grab him - seemingly
still planning to rob him - the small man threw them aside like
dolls, slamming them both against the far wall before he grabbed
for me again. I'd backed into my window, pressing against the
glass. Had it been open, I surely would have jumped.
Before the small man could reach me, Dark
Haired and Blond Man stabbed him with bright knives in the back
and neck. Small man's blood sprayed everywhere, on the walls,
floor, bed. And most of all me. I screamed and screamed, feeling
as though I must go mad.
The small man, his finery soaked in his own
blood, lay in a crumpled heap on the floor. The men, who seemed
the meanest parasites, approached the body, apparently still
intent on robbing him. The small man's red glow had gone. His
face was pale, any blood seemingly drained from his body.
But as Blond Man touched him, an aura returned.
This one was blue and cold, making the small man dark and terrible.
He rose up and, pulling the knives from his own body, stabbed
the two men, killing them both.
Then the small man turned to me, the icy aura
seeming to have frozen closed his bleeding wounds. Terror filled
me, as I knew he must kill me next. For I lured him, promising
him something better than two robbers. I wanted to beg for my
life but found no voice.
Still, moments passed and he hadn't moved
on me. The small man just seemed to watch me as his life's blood
seemed absorbed back into his body. I remembered my grandmother's
tales, long forgotten, of ghosts returning to right wrongs done
to them in life. Was the promise my dance made the reason he
Holding the small man's blue gaze, I climbed
from the window stage. I trembled, but walked to the bed, turned
my back to him and face down, knees to my chest, bottom high,
lifting the small skirt high onto my back.
Blond Man's belt was curled beside me. While
I feared its sting, that was surely the very least of my fears.
Yet small man didn't use that, instead raining hand slaps on
my striped bottom as though I were a very tiny girl being punished
for small naughtinesses. As he spanked me, I stopped feeling
like a valueless whore and felt instead like the precious daughter
I never was.
And I wept.
When the tears began, the small man's spanks
became softer, his hand patting and caressing until his touch
moved inside me, warming my heart and body.
It was a long time before I could move. But
when I looked behind me for my savior, there was no one there
but the two dead robbers. The small man who had made me belong
to him, to whom I'd freely given myself, was gone. There was
only blood and his small suit.
It was clean, as was the child's dress I wore.
I gathered the suit to my chest and ran from
the room, from the window, from the street. For I knew I was
too clean for this place.
That was seven months ago. I wore the child's
frock until it no longer fit me. Then, using a fraction of the
fortune contained in the pocket of my savior's suit, I bought
myself a large loose shift.
The child, who entered through the small man's
touch, demands I make room.
I give it willingly.
. . . with apologies to Bartok. ;)
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