A girl on the edge. Running. Running for her life. Running for her freedom. Can she escape the shackles of society to truly be wild?


7. Starved

The two new workers are seated on the floor of the tent, clutching rough wooden bowls. The bowls are filled with the gruel that is all we have to eat. I am surprised that none of us have wasted away into nothing, leaving behind only dry bones and dead, black skin.

When I was first taken to be a worker, I refused to eat. Even back then, it was clear to me that I was special to them because of my looks. If I didn’t eat, eventually I would fade into nothing but dry skin and brittle bones, rendering me utterly useless to all but the most desperate of sellers.

The camp that captured me were poor, despite being based in one of the lusher environments. They were always careful with their resources, only keeping the few, very best workers that would fetch a good price. If they saw any of our attributes deteriorating in any way they were always swift with their punishment.

Foolishly, I thought if I stopped eating and started wasting away they would deal with me in the same way.

I was wrong. Instead, they forced me to entertain the travellers whose journey was too long and tiring for them to leave that evening.

That was the day I learnt that the beds of male travellers are far worse than any other torture.

They sent me into their tents and caravans, dressed in nothing but thin rags. I stood and shivered until I was forced to move, performing acts that made me gag. Yet my disgust did nothing to help, as I could do nothing but dry retch. And so I began eating again.

It was only after those evenings stopped that I realised I had given them exactly what they had wanted.

As I watch the new workers, I am relieved that they do not make the mistake I did. They sit and spoon the gruel hungrily into their mouths, not spilling a drop. It obvious to any worker that they have seen many camps, been through many trades. Their eyes do not stray from their meagre meals; not even a glance is taken as the leader of this camp strides in. Yes, they have seen many places like this.

I turn my gaze away, moving so I am facing the direction of the leader, but not straight on. That is seen as a challenge, and I have faced enough challenges in this life. He utters a low grunt and throws a small bundle to me which I obediently catch, keeping my eyes averted. I then follow as he marches out of the tent, towards the lights and flashes of the show ring.

He doesn’t stop the flap hitting me as I walk through. He didn’t stop the beating I received for trying to help.

He won’t stop the abuse I know is coming tonight.

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