The young girl sat uncomfortably on the cold exam table, hunching over protectively in the strange paper gown they’d given her to wear. Her mother’s presence nearby did little to alleviate the feelings of exposure and vulnerability that washed over her as they waited for the doctor to enter the room. She was already too familiar with this scenario and she hated it; a man in authority coming to examine and touch her small, unclothed body. It didn’t really matter to her that it was his job, and it did not feel ok, regardless of the number of times she was told it would be. She stiffened as he opened the door, saying hello kindly to them both. He asked her her name, and told her to take deep breaths as he listened through the frigid disc he slid inside her gown and placed over her heart. It was beating like a rabbit, her heart, and he withdrew his hand and his equipment. “Don’t like doctors much, huh?'” he asked. She shook her head no. “Well, you’re not alone there. I will be as quick as possible-but it’s my job to make sure everything’s working right. That’s why your mama brought you here today. Now, how about just taking a deep breath, and lying back on the table for me?” She resignedly complied, hoping that it would be over soon. He again reached inside the flimsy garment, feeling about her chest and abdomen, occasionally listening through his device and writing things down. What he was doing certainly felt different than what she was used to, but she still didn’t like it. “Your mom tells me you just had a growth spurt. How do you like being taller?” he asked. “I like that well enough, but this happened,” she said, timidly pulling back the paper to reveal her inner thigh peeking out below the leg of her white cotton panties which were covered in cornflower blue blossoms. She pointed to the angry purple stretch marks that had appeared with the growth. They looked like the meandering trails she had seen left by hungry worms in wood, and she felt they made her ugly. “Will they ever go away, turn beautiful again?” she asked. “I’m afraid not, honey,” he said, sadly. “But in time, the purple will fade, and you won’t notice them as much.” She felt hot tears well up, but she refused to let them fall. Everything there was all wrong, ruined. She felt certain that something important had been taken from her, before she even knew she had it to steal.
It was Friday night and Alex was on the prowl. She slipped into a casual, rolling gait, relaxing into the night with a feline grace. She had always been most comfortable at night, as her nature possessed the same velvety nuances as the shadows just beyond the pools of city lights. She saw best in low light. You only ever saw so much of Alex, but those brief flashes were her siren call. She left indelible marks on every client she entertained. She was elemental, her movements fluid as water, eyes simmering with fire on a constant slow burn. Her beauty attracted the predators, but there was an air of weaponized damage about her that simultaneously held them at bay. How to harm something already so broken? Everyone knows about the dangers of the night. What they aren’t always prepared for are the dangers of Alex.