I had hoped to have a new, original story for this week’s submission, particularly since Nancy’s birthday is this week. Alas, things have been very busy preparing for a trip this week, and I have not had a chance to compose anything.
When I finished the first draft of Precocious by Design, I found that a couple of the characters had really grown on me, and had developed to play much larger roles in the story than originally intended. One of these was Katya, and the Epilogue revealed how her life had changed after the events of the story. Later, though, I found that I needed to show that moment in her life, and not just let one character imply it in retrospect. The result was the addition of the following chapter.
As a reminder, Katya worked as Katy, a “performer” for the Pretty Baby Dolls Agency, which was a nice euphemism for a highly specialized prostitute.
Summer, Monday morning
The summer day was milder than expected, bringing a short time of relief from the heat and the possibility of a pleasant Independence Day coming up. Faye sat at her desk, processing the various donations that had arrived over the weekend, and wondering how Lloyd’s first day back at full duty was going. The police psychologist had taken a while to finally clear him for a full return, and the desk job had been driving him crazy the whole time.
Ralph would be back to work soon, though the current prognosis was that he’d never go back to field detective work. Lloyd had probably found out who his new partner was already that morning, and she hoped God had graced him with someone easy to get along with. Barring unforeseen circumstances, he would probably keep the same partner until his retirement.
Her phone warbled with the pattern of an in-house call. “Donations accounting, this is Faye,” she answered.
“Faye, this is Melissa in the lobby. There’s a visitor here for you.”
“A visitor? Who is it?”
“She says her name is Katya, and that she knows your husband.”
Katya? She tried to connect a face with the name, but came up blank. “I’ll be right out,” she said. Saving her work first, she toggled the computer over to the log-in screen and took off her phone headset. Melissa would have sent the visitor back to her desk if she’d asked, but until she knew who the person was, she didn’t want to okay someone to wander unescorted through the offices.
Rounding the corner into the lobby, Melissa met her at the door. “I don’t know about this girl,” she whispered. “She showed me some ID, but it had to be fake. There’s no way this girl is as old as she says she is.”
Katya stood as Faye stepped in front of the reception desk. “Mrs. Timmons; I don’t know if you remember me,” she said.
“You… were at the funeral, weren’t you?”
“Ilsa’s funeral; yes. I’m Katya Polinichenko. I was one of Ilsa’s… friends.” She looked down at the floor. “I’m sorry to bother you at work, but I didn’t know who else to talk to.”
“Polinichenko; okay, now I know who you are. I don’t think I ever heard you referred to by your first name. You were the one at the hospital that night. My husband went to see you and – was it Gary?”
“How did you know I worked here?”
“When your husband took Gary and me in for questioning, I saw your picture on his desk. You were standing in front of the sign for this building, so I checked the website and found you were listed as staff.”
Talk to her, the thought crossed her mind. “Why don’t we go someplace quiet, where we can talk without risking interruption?” She smiled and led the way to a modest room. A single circular table sat in the middle, surrounded by chairs, and she switched off the overhead speakers that played the Christian music from the central address system. “Have a seat,” she said. “Would you like something to drink? We have cold water, some juice, and a few sodas in the fridge, if you’re thirsty.”
“Nothing, thank you,” Katya said, settling into one of the chairs. “What is this room?”
“We call it the Prayer Closet,” Faye said, flipping the sign to ‘occupied’ on the door before closing it. “It’s kind of an all-purpose meeting room. We have Bible studies in here, prayer meetings, counseling sessions – pretty much anything that someone might want a peaceful place for.” She took a seat a couple of chairs over from the girl – woman, she reminded herself – close enough for caring, without potentially crowding her. “Why did you want to talk to me, Katya? May I call you Katya?”
She nodded. “I wanted to know about this God that you and your husband believe in – this God that Gary now believes in.” She looked up from a face devoid of emotion. “We weren’t taught about religion when we were growing up; our overseers mentioned it only in the context that we might have clients of various religious persuasions, or we might be asked to perform a role from a religious context.”
“Haven’t you ever known any other Christians?”
“Some; the agency even had a few prominent church leaders among our clientele, but there is something different between them and your husband, and I want to understand it.”
“Katya, it’s not that hard to understand. The men that came to your agency were not living the way God wanted them to live. What you see in Lloyd is a man who truly wants to be surrendered to God, and no one can be that kind of person if they’re willfully indulging in things God has commanded us to not do.”
She remained quiet for a moment. “Gary changed that night in Dille’s building. I think some of it was happening before that, but when we left the hospital the next day, it was clear that something was different. I thought maybe it was just the experience, and it would change back before long, but it hasn’t.”
“Lloyd told me Gary gave his life to God that night. If he really did, then he can’t go back to what he was before.”
“Gary said something similar to me a few days later. At first, I didn’t think much about the changes in him. Then, I started to dislike them. Yesterday, I figured out why the changes bothered me.”
She pulled the tissue box closer to them, and took one for herself. “Why is that?”
“Because I went through the same things that night, and those changes haven’t happened to me. The Agency is gone. I don’t have to live that way anymore, but I still feel like a whore. My entire life has been nothing but one performance after another, and now it’s just a different kind of performance.” She closed her eyes and lowered her head. “Gary said he’s been set free from his past. Everywhere I go, though, it’s like I’m still Katy. Even the lady in the lobby here looked at me like people looked at Katy. When do I get set free from her?”
Faye shifted to the closer chair, and drew the young woman into her arms. “When you ask God for it, Katya,” she whispered.
“I don’t know how to ask.”
“Would you like me to tell you?”