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Tansey, Lynne "The Corner" 2003

The Corner

By Lynne Tansey

`Today has been a good day`, I thought to myself, as I packed my bag full to the brim with the things I would need tonight. Yes, I felt quite satisfied with the things I had managed to achieve over the last few years. I smiled, self satisfied, happy with the task I had before me. The pinnacle of my career I felt was close approaching. Everything that I believed in was about to be realised.

I looked down into the huge leather carrier full of condoms of every description, lubricants and leaflets on safe sex. My job as a project worker to the prostitutes of Plymouth was the beginning I felt, of actually doing something for the women that used to be my social group, my sisters in vice, my friends.

That, I remembered was the very reason that I had started my quest all those years ago. When I worked voluntarily for various organisations, in order to get the qualifications that I desperately needed to be recognised and accepted outside of the prostitute community that I knew. I had set up an agency for the homeless and now through that work, was respected enough to be offered this role, as a project worker for the new prostitutes support branch.

I sighed. Yes this was the moment that I had waited a long time for.

I threw the bulging bag over my shoulder and made my way towards the red light district of Plymouth.

I parked my car in an area where I knew was relatively safe at the end of the `street`. Union Street as it is known. Then walked to the perimeter of the `beat`, he name of the neighbourhood where prostitutes plied their trade.

Straight away I saw the first obvious shapes of women on the `game`. Standing furtively in dark doorways, waiting like preying mantis’s for a likely customer. Suspicious of anything or anyone who is strange or acting unlike a punter, especially another female.

I approached the first woman I saw. Recognising her as I got closer. Breathing a sigh of relief that my first possible client would be someone I knew.

She peered through hooded eyes as I explained my new role in life. I felt good about what I was doing, so my confidence was evident. I opened my bag of goodies to her, rambling on about how marvellous this new agency was. To prove it I pulled out a huge plastic sleeve full of condoms and told her to take what she needs, adding that if ever she needed to talk or had any problems whatsoever, I was her woman!

Her hand hesitated slightly as she accepted this gift.

She looked around her before casting her eyes to the ground. I felt an acute sense of embarrassment in this action.

What was the matter?

Where were the loving arms around me that I had been used to when we worked together?

It seemed I was a stranger to her.

We had shared so many memories together all those years ago! Memories of a kind no other women share, only in this metier.

I was perplexed and deflated.

Still, I realised I must be professional and see this one through. So I made my excuses and moved on.

I walked around the `beat` doing much the same as I had just done, just to find a similar reaction to the one I had just experienced. What was the matter? What was I doing wrong? Surely this is what the girls wanted, support and recognition!

I walked past the wall surrounding Millbay docks. A long grey wall, that matched the dark grey atmosphere of the night. Take-away cartoons blowing down the road in the chilly night air. The clatter of an unseen can rolling in the wind. The street was empty now devoid of any life save for the occasional car turning out of the docks. It was the quiet period before the clubs turned out there hoards of drunken reverie makers. It was like the pause between sentences, the chasm amid realms, no-mans land. The silence was almost tangible, a place between worlds, waiting for the desires and emotional baggage that is dumped unceremoniously in this twilight world of the graveyard shift.

I turned into the street where I myself had worked as a prostitute. Watching my feet take the familiar path of years ago.

My shoes changed from the sensible walking shoes I had been wearing to high black stilettos, my legs sheathed in black gossamer.

A gust of wind blew hair around my face as I looked up, and there, before me was the `corner`. The corner where I would stand, practising my profession as a `working` girl, I stopped!

As did time!

My memories came flooding back like a great rolling wave. Memories! Of camaraderie with the other girls! Of the way we would look after each other.

The grapevine of information about difficult or dangerous clients. The insurance, that new girls were following the `rules`. Making sure that we all had condoms, which most of us obtained from the service men, who had been given them in abundance by their peers.

Our chatter and support in the face of abuse and ridicule. Which we often encountered; by people who cruised around in cars as voyeurs. Some even went so far as to bring their children with them, as if to remind them of what can happen if they stray from the straight and narrow.

I stood swaying in the blustery weather. Rain was beginning to fall, soaking me in moments, backed by the force of the wind. I would not move, feeling protected by the experiences of a distant memory.

My corner, my recollections!

Voices, from a far-away point in time.

Ghosts of women who I once knew!

Those who have died at the hands of psychopaths, and angry men.

The names of women! For, whom life had been very short, ending violently and alone. Lying limp and lifeless in a dark forgotten corner. Never mourned, never missed, only by those who shared this unrecognised and thankless role in life!

The cold rain merged with the hot tears that fell down my face.

Tears, for those caring prostitutes, the Mothers of mankind’s insecurities, the forgotten and scorned whores of humanity and harlots of delusion.

On this dark, cold and lonely corner, a halo of love encompassed my heart, as I met the souls of the friends that I knew.

As I stood bathed in the light of the forgotten, I then knew what I had to do!

I realised where I had gone wrong and how patronising I had become. My zealousness had overtaken my journey. I had abandoned my instincts for the judgement of others.

`Forgive me`, were my words, uttered in shame.

Written by: Lynne Tansey

Copyright 2003, all rights reserved

Originally published by The Storm Project, Link Here