‘Sunday best’

At first, she ran. When she couldn’t run any more, she walked. And when she could no longer put one foot in front of the other, she stopped and crouched on the tarmac for a moment, her head in her hands. ‘This damned place,’ she whispered quietly. ‘Where are the cars? Where are they?’ It had been raining all the way, but she didn’t notice. When you grew up in a climate like this, rainstorms were as natural as the sun going down at night, and hardly worth mentioning.

‘Cant stop here,’ she told herself out loud. ‘Got to get back. Not long till it’s light.’ She continued on the narrow road. The soles of her feet ached. She was still wearing yesterday’s thick satiny dress, the matching sandals knotted together and swinging from a finger. Against the deep, wild green of the rainforest, bound up in folded polyester like a cheap geisha, she felt ridiculous. The colour was lurid and unnatural. The wet seams rubbed at her waist. The delicate skin under her arms was raw.

‘Sunday, Sunday,’ she sighed. Sunday wasn’t the kind of girl to splash barefoot through the monsoon rain to get home. Sunday would never be seen out with such flat hair. And certainly never without her lashes. She didn’t really know Sunday at all, but one night a week, that’s who she was, and on Mondays she brushed tears away all day, because for the rest of the week she was nameless.

She pulled the dress up. Wrung out the dripping hem. The notes tucked inside the bust had began to slip into the bodice. She counted them, rolled them tight again. She could easily have paid for a ride, if anyone had come this way. But that would be selfish.

Her shoulders tightened. She was almost at the village. This island, for all its lagoons and beach bars, was hell on earth.