Nightfall still triggers me. It is not so intense as it was, but I notice it. It gets dark, and I feel something. Not quite right, I guess. As though there is something I am meant to do.
Tonight, it suddenly occurs to me why that would be. At night, my friends were working. They were out on the streets soliciting, and it was dangerous. It was dangerous for them to be out there—these teenage girls. It was dangerous for them to be with the johns. It was dangerous to come home later and hand the money over to Yuri, who might or might not be happy with how much you made. The films were terrible to make, and he punished you if you did them wrong, but the degree of danger involved in street soliciting was on an entirely greater scale.
If I wasn’t with them, I was scared for them. What happened in my house at night was terrible, but I was scared for them.
There is something else I have been thinking about.
The girls I loved most are dead. There are three of them I saw alive last. I don’t know if they are alive now or not. But the other girls I loved are dead. I cannot make them alive again. I cannot go back to the moments before death and do anything to protect them. It is too late now, and what has happened to them is an irreversible condition.
They are not safe now. They are dead.
It’s a little bit of a weight off me as if, because I have been unable to fully grieve for them, I could not see that the worst had already happened. I was stuck in that moment before their deaths, trying to think how to save them. Now, it feels a bit like being able to breathe again, as if I have been waiting to see what would happen for the last 30 or 40 years.
It has happened.