Bought and Sold

I never thought that my mother would betray me like this. Then again, what should I expect now that she sold me to five strange men...

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1. chaper one

    I woke up to the stench of cigarette smoke. My mother was never very good at keeping her promises, not smoking inside the house was no exception. I uselessly waved my hand in front of my face, a failed effort to breath somewhat clean air.

    This was my typical morning. Cigarette smoke and silence, my mother surely passed out on the couch, a bottle of beer clutched in her hands, the remains of an unlabeled liquor lingering somewhere around her limp body. I used to beg her to stop, to take care of me since my father died. I realized she didn't drink because she liked it, she drank because he wasn't here anymore.

    However, this morning felt slightly off. The cigarette smoke was heavier, meaning either she smoked way more than usual, or she smoked outside my door. I got out of my bed, throwing my stained comforter on the ground. The door creaked as it was pushed, and surely, there she was. She stood next to my doorframe, lit cigarette in her hand.

    "If I ask you to stop, at the very least don't do it right outside my door." I scrunched my nose as I tossed the butt onto the floor, stomping it out. Last time, she picked it up and continued, but I've learned my lesson since then.

    Her eyes looked at me, a warm hazel very similar to my own. The shine had left them a long time ago, making her expression a constantly sad one.

    She blew smoke into my face.

    "What the hell?!" I backed up, my eyes slammed shut the second I processed what had happened. I coughed a few times, even though I was accustomed to the cruel trick.

    "It's the last time I'll get the chance to do it." She told me, a small laugh in her voice. "I doubt you'll ever want to see me after today. I wouldn't blame you, it's a horrible birthday gift."

    "So you did remember you birthed me seventeen years ago. That's splendid, truly. What's my gift?" I looked around in vain, she'd never actually get me anything; we could barely afford the house in between my minimum wage job and whatever she steals when she finally leaves the shitty two room, no bathroom house.

    "You'll find out later, it won't be important until then." She looked at me, up and down. "Get dressed, honey. You'll need to do yourself some favors today. You look like a cheap version of me."

    My mother and I were undeniably related. It bothered me that it seems as if I inherited none of my father's genes. We have the same hazel eyes and the same dark brown hair. The only difference is that I had less experience with not looking like a mess. Sometimes, I wish that at the very least we could have a shower in the kitchen. Not even a bathroom, just a shower at the very least.

    "Alright. I'm stealing your makeup."

    "As if you already don't."

    I joined her again about an hour later, my hair still wet from washing it in the kitchen sink. I was wearing my nicest clothes, which gave me a vintage look due to them being hand-me-downs from when my mother was a girl. I didn't fill the top correctly, stuffing it with tissue paper that my mother immediately pulled out. She used water to wipe off my poor attempt at applying makeup and did so herself.

    In the end, I looked just like her.

    "You made me look ugly, mom."
    "I made you look fucking hot."

    My lips felt uncomfortable with the deep red lipstick on them, and she somehow brought my face back to life with a blush. My acne seemed all but invisible and, well, it definitely was a change from the graphic t-shirt and baggy cargo short lifestyle. I pulled the dress down slightly, my mother behind me putting my hair up in a ponytail.

    "Is this my present? Looking pretty and feminine for a day?"
   "No, this isn't for you." She pulled out her phone, a cheap flip phone from Wal-Mart. "Your gift will be here in about five minutes. Though in the end, you're the gift."

   "What do you mean, mom?" I pulled the dress down again, feeling more self-conscious about its shortness, barely reaching my midthigh.

   "You know we don't have money. So now I have money." My mother laughed, something I barely saw in the last five years. "I sold you, put an ad on Craigslist and now you're gonna be gone."

    "Sold? That's illegal and I'm your daughter!" I tried to wipe off the lipstick, but there was already knocking on the door. Fuck.

    FUCK.

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