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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Red (10/01/09)

TITLE: Whorehouse Heart
By Debbie Roome


Red light pools around me, spilling from windows, seeping under doors. For a brief moment, it feels like my life blood; slowly draining, spreading in sheets, leaving me withered and empty.

“Come on, Rosa.” I try and scold myself into action. “Climb those stairs and get to work.” Lady Jayne’s Parlour looms above me, a checkerboard of grey walls and red windows.

The front doors creak open and Ebony and Dusk brush past me, giggling as they set out to walk the streets. Their skirts are too short, their tops too low and I wonder for the millionth time why I keep coming back here.

“One step at a time, Rosa. You need the money. Just go inside and report for duty.” I move a few inches before turning to look down the street. It’s alive with neon; shapes spinnng and whirling in giddy dances. Dark cars prowl slowly, looking for prey.

I jump as someone comes up next to me. It’s a middle-aged woman and she looks way out of place. The dull red light smears her jeans and shirt, turning them rusty maroon.

“I’m Sally.” She puts a hand out.

“Rosa.” I ignore the hand and turn back towards Lady Jayne’s Parlour.

Her voice is insistent, gentle. “You look sad, Rosa. Would you like to come and have a coffee with me?”

The idea is ludicrous. I’m dressed in tight satin and fish nets with way too much makeup on. Why would she ask me such a thing?

She persists as though reading my mind. “We’ve got a coffee shop across the street there.”

I turn out of curiosity and see she’s pointing to the building on the corner. I’d heard some religious freaks had bought it and turned it into a church. A guttural laugh surges up. “I don’t think so, honey. My type doesn’t fit in there.”

Sally places her hand on my arm. “Are you happy, Rosa? At least let me pray for you.”

She takes my indecision as a yes and words start pouring from her lips. “Jesus, I pray that You make Yourself real to Rosa tonight. Show her that You can wash the stains from her heart. That Your blood was shed for her to make her clean inside.”

I turn and march up the steps. Nothing can make me clean inside. My heart feels like a whorehouse, red and full of shame. I accept the next three clients that walk in as proof of that. The strange thing is, I can’t get her words out of my mind. How can blood remove stains? Especially old stains like mine.

The fourth client I accept is a rough biker-type, oozing alcohol and curses. I realise I’ve made a mistake as he drags me out of his car and into a derelict building. Pain floods my torso as heavy boots kick and he rams my body into the wall. You deserve it, Rosa. You’re beyond help.

It’s as though my earlier thoughts have come to life. Blood spills and seeps like red light, draining through dusty floorboards, salty mouthfuls choking my airway.

Sally’s words come back to me again as consciousness fades. I hope God hears as I pray silently. “Jesus, I’m in deep trouble here. Please wash my heart with your blood.”

It’s like an explosion on the inside. An all consuming purity that obliterates the redness and shame. As my body slams into the wall one last time, I hear a voice whispering, tenderly and gently. “For though your sins be as scarlet, I will wash them whiter than snow.”

I close my eyes and surrender to the light that fills my being.

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This article has been read 1022 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Mona Purvis10/08/09
Powerful! Harsh, realistic, cruel, desperate.
I could see the red everywhere as your descriptions were so vivid. The contrast of Jesus Blood/red and the sleezy/red really worked in this thought-provoking piece.

Pamela Calhoun10/08/09
From the title to the last line you had me! Great Job!
Karlene Jacobsen10/08/09
WOW! You had me choking back tears for Rosa, first in pain, then in rejoicing.

Beautifully done! Realistic.
Steve Uppendahl10/08/09
Wow. Uh, wow, again. Very powerful and descriptive writing. Great, raw imagery and emotion throughout. If this isn't EC...I'll just leave it at that.
Charla Diehl 10/08/09
From the onset I was hooked with this powerful telling of Rosa's life. This story felt authentic in every way. I expect to see this in the winners circle. Great job.
Marty Wellington 10/10/09
Gritty and authentic voice that truly captivates the reader. Well done!
Mark Bell10/11/09
Very bold, from the title to the details of the story. Always just enough to tell the story, without being overly crude and vulgar about it. That is a lost art among Christian writers. Very well done.
Betty Castleberry10/11/09
Bold and vivid. This is well written and held my attention. Two thumbs up.
Lynda Schultz 10/13/09
Mona Purvis10/15/09
Knew this was EC material. Glad to see it was on the list.
Lisa Johnson10/16/09
Oh, my... your writing in this story is so powerful... it took my breath away. The stark contrast between Rosa's life in the red-light district, and then her transformation through the blood of Jesus...just superb. Congratulstions on being Highly Commended and your EC.
Lisa Johnson10/16/09
That would be congratulations.
Myrna Noyes10/21/09
I'm late reading this, but it was worth the wait! Your descriptions, the spiritual imagery, the powerful beginning and end--all terrific! Congratulations on your win! :)