She looked him right in the eye. “I need words.” He flinched, shook his head and motioned for her to stop, please stop. “Shh, what the hell are you being so loud for? Wait, then follow me. Geez.” He quickly turned around, coat over his arm, and walked briskly towards the rows of green and yellow houses that lined the broad street. She waited, as told, let the giant white van pass her, then walked equally fast after him. She saw him enter the third house on the right after that lame arcade in which all the machines were either broken or let you win on purpose. She had spent many a day in there, mostly because it was those games or sitting around on rocks, throwing sticks at each other with limited enthusiasm. When she reached the door, she tried opening it. It was locked. She knocked. A very different person than the seller opened. “Yes?” Seriously? “I need words.” The person slammed the door in her face and yelled something along the lines of “What the fuck, get down here now!” Sounded almost like herself thinking about her daughter on most days. On any given day. She waited. Nothing happened. On the verge of her turning around and trying a different seller, the door finally opened and the man let her in. She felt like reprimanding him, but how? He pointed towards what seemed to be the kitchen. Slightly uncomfortable following him into the dingy house, she went because she had to.
At the wooden table, the seller confided in her. “You know, I was always wordy, always a talker. Was reprimanded for it, even back then. Not like today, of course. But I knew I could get in trouble for it, so I learned to keep my mouth shut. Now the question is, are you aware of the risks you’re taking with buying? And most importantly, do you have the money?” She nodded to both. She contemplated showing him the bundle of notes in her pocket, but if he was going to run with it she’d be screwed. Also, he could rob her in here however he wanted as well. No point. He held up a little snow globe-like glass. Inside, tiny small paper cuts were flying around in an unidentifiable liquid. They reminded her of the pieces inside fortune cookies, back from when there had been sentences on these rather than pictures and then nothing but gibberish. “How does it work?” she asked, with her coarse voice she found so ugly. They had told her it was ugly. “You shake, you take. One out, that is. It opens at the bottom. Put the paper on your tongue after reading it out loud and that word is a part of you. Again, maybe, depends on how much your parents spoke with you in your childhood. You might have a bigger storage of words already. So, show me the money.” She paid and carefully held the snow globe in both hands. The salesman accompanied her to the door, motioning for her to hide the globe under her jacket. “No way in hell do you tell anyone you got this from me, you hear me? I will know you told them and I will come and get you for that.” His tone was threatening, but his face was not. It was fearful. She nodded again, managed to mumble “thank you” before the door was shut in her face. Her cheeks were flushed as she walked towards the main road and back to her apartment.
She had carved a hole into the back of her cupboard specifically for this purpose. A poster of a popular TV program hang in front of the hiding spot. She had prepared and planned for this for years. Coming up with the money was especially difficult, but after the first few blow jobs she didn’t mind being a prostitute so much anymore. It was faster money than the work in her father’s factory, and relatively safe also under her aunt’s wings. Since mouths have become so special, all other body parts have taken a step back. The ladies at Paradiso were lucky to be afforded a special status in the entertainment industry. Why did she always feel she had to defend her occupational choices? She had had experienced the grueling hard physical labor in a factory herself, and seen the girls her age with broken backs, maimed hands or, maybe worse, unwanted pregnancies from co-workers and bosses. This was not a risk she was willing to take.
What had the man told her again? “You shake it, you take one out. It opens at the bottom. Put the paper on your tongue after reading it out loud and that word is a part of you. Again, maybe, depends on how much your parents spoke with you in your childhood. You might have a bigger storage of words already. So, show me the money.” She waits until darkness descends upon her flatmates and her, the slight snoring noises of Anne in the next room barely audible. It must be time, now, for her to reap the rewards of her courage. She shakes the snow globe and picks a dirty yellow, narrow piece of paper. Her tongue reaches for the correct sounds to make as she forms the word with her lips and, finally, exhales it. The taste of ink on her tongue won’t go away for a few nights.