Original Works

The Merchandise

Jackie was a young girl of nineteen. She had just finished sitting for her major exams and was convinced by her best friend that going to a club would do her good. Her friend was wrong though, Jackie didn’t like clubs. She didn’t like the smoke, the crowd and the noise. She was one of those girls who would stay at home and read a book all evening. She was also a girl who would rather stay up all night and swallow an entire Physics text book instead of bearing the pain in her feet as she attempted to dance in her high heels.

It was a mistake to have followed Melissa, a big mistake.

But how could Jackie say no when she had promised Melissa she would go?

Jackie remembered that afternoon when Melissa made her pinky swear. It was after school and Melissa and Jackie had stayed back to revise on the day’s lessons. They were in the school library when they heard the bell ring for the third time that day, signaling that the afternoon session was about to begin. Oh, Jackie remembered those days, when she was just an innocent thirteen year old who would sing the national anthem and the school song as though she was in her favorite band’s concert.

She also remembered the first time she met the wide-eyed Melissa, who wasn’t at all innocent at that young age. Melissa was a pretty Chinese girl whose fair skin made Jackie look too tanned. Jackie, who was half Chinese, did not exactly have a lot of Chinese genes to begin with, but that didn’t stop many from thinking she was.

Having hung out with Melissa since day one made them both twins at heart. Melissa would somehow know what was going on in Jackie’s mind and Jackie would know what was going on in Melissa’s mind. That afternoon in the library was no different.

“Remember when we use to sing those songs so enthusiastically?” Melissa asked.

“Yea, I remember.” Jackie laughed.

“I admire our school spirit back then. Now, I just can’t wait to get out of these uniforms!”

“Well, you had a choice; you could have gone to university instead of doing form 6?”

“I know! I could have saved myself the stress too! STPM is killing me! Why isn’t it killing you?”


“Because you’re a nerd,” Melissa finished her sentence for her.

“Yea, yea. And you’re a rebel,” Jackie replied.

“Truth!” Melissa exclaimed a little too loudly that a librarian turned to them and gave them a narrow stare.

Melissa laughed and ignored the girl who rolled her eyes at them.

“Once the exams are over, you have to come clubbing with me,” Melissa suddenly said.

“I don’t think I would like it.”

“You can’t say that without trying it out first.”

“Well, I know I wouldn’t like it, so why waste time?”

“Promise me you would try to have a little fun in your life.” Melissa sighed and shook her head.

“I know a lot of other fun things to do besides clubbing,” Jackie said.

“Sure you do, like studying,” Melissa mocked.

“Way better than getting all sweaty and dirty.”

“I don’t care what you say. Promise me now that you would go with me once the exams are over.” Melissa immediately held out her pinky for Jackie.

“Nah.” Jackie returned to the book in front of her, hoping Melissa would just drop it.

“Promise me!” Melissa shouted, and the librarian turned to them again.

“Shhhh!” Jackie scolded.

“Promise me now!” Melissa shouted again.

Great, Melissa knew Jackie’s weakness of following rules and now she was using her weakness to force her into making a promise she could not break.

Without much of a choice, Jackie made the pinky swear and secretly hoped that Melissa would forget. Unfortunately, Melissa’s memory for promises was way better than historical facts.

A week after the exams were over, Jackie found herself in a club trying her best to have a good time. She tried to keep things positive and told herself that this was an experience she needed to have.

But after attempting to dance for about an hour, Jackie gave up. For the rest of the night, she just sat at their booth declining guys who kept coming up to her with drinks and requests to make body contact on the dance floor. Grossed out by the amount of strangers who kept pestering her to do something she did not want to do, she decided to leave.

She told herself that she would text Melissa once she got home, so she had no chance to try and make her stay. Carefully slipping away from her friend, who would not even notice her gone with all the attention she was getting from strangers, Jackie left the club through the back entrance and sent her mother a text message.

“I’m on my way home,” Jackie read out loud what she typed on her old school Nokia phone. No, she was no hipster; she just didn’t care what kind of phone she had. And no, she was not a goody two shoes, she just promised her mother she would inform her when she was leaving.

Jackie had driven that night and because it was the city, she was forced to park blocks away. It was already 12 midnight but the booming music from the club still meant the night was young. But young or not, Jackie just wanted to go home.

Being from another city, Jackie was starting to get confused with the roads. Every block did not look familiar and before she knew it, Jackie was lost. Though Jackie had an inkling she made a wrong turn somewhere, she just kept walking, because there was a foreboding feeling every time she stood still to decide which lane to take. The sound of her beating heart did not make it easier when she ended up in a quiet lane with no car in sight except for a taxi parked at the side of the road.

“Great,” Jackie muttered as she kept her head down and hurried down the lane. She saw some people hanging around a building ahead of her and she decided to head to them and ask for directions. But before she could even make it out of that lane, a car drove past and stopped abruptly in front of her, blocking her path.

It took Jackie a few seconds to realize what was happening, and only when the back door opened, did Jackie run. Her high heels made it difficult to make distance between her and the man, and before she could even make it out of the lane, she felt him grab her from the back and began dragging her to the car.

Jackie screamed and yelled for help, hoping that the people she saw earlier would hear her, but unfortunately, her screams fell on deaf ears. Jackie attempted to wiggle herself free from the man’s grip, but by the time she managed to slip out, he was already shoving her into the backseat of the car.

Jackie instinctively reached for the other car door, and tried yanking it open, but she should have known that they weren’t stupid. Kicking and trashing her arms, Jackie demanded what was going on and what they want with her, and when the car came to a stop, Jackie innocently thought they were going to let her go.

She was wrong of course, because the driver asked the man in the backseat to shut her up and drug her. Upon hearing those words, Jackie kicked harder and screamed louder. It was useless in the end because the moment the man pinned her down and injected the transparent liquid into her arm, Jackie slowly lost full control of her limbs.

She was in serious trouble right now and Jackie knew she was done for. As her world began spinning round and round, Jackie heard the driver make a call, and moments later, after she lost count of how many street lamps the car drove past, she felt herself being pulled out from the backseat and into a standing position.

The two men were strong enough that Jackie did not even have to try walking. She felt as though she was floating above the ground, as she stared at her feet being dragged on the road.

Moments later, Jackie was certain another man came to greet them and he started to touch her face and hands. He was examining her, like how a vet would examine a sick animal. He lifted her face but she could not clearly make out the man’s features. Then he lifted her hands and scolded one of the men propping her. Finally, the drugs just sent her head spiraling in flashes of bright colors, reminding her of those swirly lollipops she would beg her parents to buy her when she was a child.

What she last remembered was not being dragged off, but a false memory of her future. It was so real that it made that night look like a bad dream. But when she finally woke up, she found herself in a dark, chilly place. Was she still dreaming? No, Jackie knew she wasn’t, because her head was starting to ache badly.

The walls around her were cold, and they had a strong rusty smell. As she waved her hands around her, she found nothing but the metal walls. She was locked up like an animal and the sudden realization of what was happening made her hands tremble.

She hugged herself tightly and told herself everything was going to be alright, but she knew, deep down, that it wasn’t. Upon the sound of a blowing horn, Jackie broke into tears. She knew she was never going home, because home was gallons of salt water away. And whatever lied ahead was a future she hoped she didn’t have to live long to see.

Approximately 80% of trafficking involves sexual exploitation. – DosSmething.Org

(Visit The Lucrative Business Page for more stories!)


The Lucrative Business | The Merchandise © 2012 by Jeyna Grace. 
All rights reserved. 

10 thoughts on “The Merchandise”

  1. Another great chapter! It’s shocking how commonplace trafficking is, no matter the country or the person.

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