Forgive me, Nadia - Chapter 1 (copyright © 2017)
In the heartless yet beautiful city of Moscow, frightened and in pain, Natalia lay on her bed. She was barely 17. It was May 1st but, by now, she had lost all track of what day or even what month it was. The only thing she could guess at that moment was the time - one in the morning. That’s when her regular workday usually ended.
This night was different. A few minutes ago, her pimp let an unexpected client in. Supposedly he was an important politician who was too horny to fall asleep.
The square bedroom, which was the only room she had lived in for the past few months, was medium in size but at least 12 feet by 12 feet. It was considered the biggest bedroom in the building, at least per the old Soviet Union Standards. There was a window on one of the walls, but it was boarded up from the inside way before she got there. The building was not well-kept. Faded floral wallpaper was peeling off of the walls. The uneven floor, once covered with beautiful hardwood, was now all rotten, stained and dirty. The ceiling, which was white when the house was built 100 years ago, was now beige with yellow water marks all over it. Smoking cigarettes, which the clientele were allowed to do, made everything around the room look like yellow–tinted fog.
If the terrible interior and smoky air were not enough, the bedroom was filled with the smell of rotten leftovers, mostly from the contents of the open and expired cans that were given to Natalia daily. Also, the smell came from half-eaten boiled eggs, bones with some meat on them, and other types of leftovers that she couldn’t force herself to eat. Although non-canned left-over food was considered rare, she usually got a good variety of it after a party or a dinner that the pimps would have in one of the other rooms.
When it came to liquids, she was given a metal bucket filled with faucet water every Monday morning. Occasionally, she also got a plastic cup filled with milk, but half of the time the milk was already spoiled.
If all that was not enough to fill the room with an awful odor, there was a large red bucket placed in one of the corners of her room. It was half filled with Natalia’s urine and feces. The smell was appalling and despite complaints from the customers, the room was not cleaned from that often enough. The leftovers were removed once or twice per month and her bucket was emptied one day a week when fresh water was brought in. It was shocking how anyone could voluntarily walk into that room and stay there for more than a few seconds, never mind having sex.
Despite all those inhumane conditions, Natalia’s unexpected client was apparently not disgusted enough to leave. He was in his early sixties and dressed professionally. He looked like someone who had just finished a business meeting; yet, his pants were unzipped and half way down his legs. He was standing right next to her bed, giving her a dirty, disgusted look. Expected by him, Natalia’s service was not going to happen. That was obvious. By now, Natalia was in too much pain, moaning louder and louder.
“I am NOT wasting any more time. I am calling Ivan!” said the politician. A second later he pulled out his cell phone and dialed out. Ivan was the main pimp for the whole neighborhood and happened to personally manage that location.
“Ivan! This bitch is playing hard to get. I don’t have time for this and she is killing my mood! Come here and take care of this right now!” He slammed the flip-phone closed and stuck it back in his pocket. Meanwhile, with pain increasing by the minute, Natalia started to panic. The moment the door lock turned, she covered herself with the ripped-up blanket and curled into a ball.
When Ivan walked in, the politician turned towards him and immediately walked over, throwing his hands up in the air. It was apparent that despite Natalia’s condition, he was still planning on getting what he came for.
“What do you think you are doing, you stupid whore?!” screamed Ivan as he came up to her bed. “Do you want to get beat up like you did three months ago? Don’t you know what happens when whores like you piss off our best clients?”
“Do you have any other pregnant girls in here?” asked the inpatient politician, grabbing his pants, in case the answer was no.
“We have one”, said Ivan, “but she is only four months along and very skinny. Let’s go outside and talk. This place stinks like shit.”
When they left the room and the door lock turned, Natalia moved to the middle of the bed and spread her legs wide open. Her body was naturally guiding her through active labor. She wanted to scream from intense pain but was too scared.
Before she could think about what to do next, she realized that the baby was about to come out. She started to push to the best of her abilities and count out loud. It seemed to help her during the labor.
“Oneeeee….. Two……. Threeeeeee…. Oh God, please help me! Four…. Fiiiiiive…”
A minute later, a little, miniature head showed up between her tights. Covered in blood, the baby’s head was now fully visible. Natalia was overwhelmed. She gently grabbed the baby’s neck and with another push, pulled the rest of the baby out. It was like she knew exactly what to do: just one of the wonders of Mother Nature.
She gently grabbed the newborn and started to clean its face and head as fast as she could. The realization that she herself had just become a mother, had not hit her yet.
A few seconds later, as the little face became nice and clean, she abruptly stopped, looked at the newborn and tears started to flow down her face. She had a little angel in her hands. It was hers. She created it.
If any sadness about the predicament she had been in was filling up her heart, it was all gone now. What she had now was an unexplained motherly joy: a feeling she had never imagined.
Her slowly developing bond with the baby during the pregnancy was totally different from holding the child in her hands. The love was purely overflowing from her body and into her priceless little miracle. The baby looked just like her, and just like her, it was a beautiful little girl.
Although it was only a few minutes ago that the baby was born, it felt to Natalia, like time had stopped. She knew however, that her work was not finished.
The baby had not cried yet and Natalia recalled hearing that newborns have to make noises so they can clear their lungs. She had witnessed a few house-births in the village she grew up in. Nurses used to turn babies upside down and gently strike their butts. That way babies would react and make sounds.
Without thinking about it much longer, she grabbed her baby girl by the feet and turned her upside down. It wasn’t easy because the umbilical cord was still attached to the placenta which Natalia’s body had not yet expelled. She had to do this, so with a gentle force, she lightly slapped the baby’s bottom. A few seconds later, she heard her infant’s first cry.
She put the baby down, afraid that Ivan was going to come back in at any minute. Collecting whatever strength she had left, she pulled at the umbilical cord, and finally, the placenta came out. The little girl was lying between her mother’s legs and was still making distressed but full-of-life sounds.
The moment Natalia pulled the mass out, she heard fast-approaching footsteps in the corridor. She quickly wrapped the placenta and the baby in her thin blanket as Ivan walked in.
Natalia was scared - very scared - but the beautiful face of her daughter kept her calm. She felt like she was staring into a mirror from the past.
For the first time in many years, Natalia’s still youthful face was displaying a truly genuine smile. Finally, she had someone else in her life: God’s gift for all the struggles she had endured.
“What the hell!” screamed Ivan, in total shock. “What is this? Oh, God, what am I going to do now? This was not supposed to happen for at least another month!” He sounded confused and lost. That baby must have been the first one that was born in this organization. The first mistake they made and it was on his watch.
He nervously grabbed his cell phone and dialed out. His hand was shaking, a strange thing to see in a grown man. “Madam Liz? This is Ivan from the 13th location. We have a huge problem. I don’t know how to even tell you this. We-we-we have a newborn here. It wasn’t supposed to happen for another month and we were going to shoot the bitch two weeks from now but here I am. I don’t know what to do. Can you please…?”
Madam Liz must have hung up on him because he closed his flip phone in a rush, way before he could finish what he was saying. Madam Liz oversaw the physical conditions of the working girls, not only for the city of Moscow but for the whole region. Judging by her actions, she was in a very powerful position. Natalia had never met her but that’s because Ivan and a few of the other local pimps kept her pregnancy a secret. They wanted to make some extra bucks without giving all of it to their bosses.
There had always been a very specific clientele who desired expecting girls. The bigger the belly, the better. There were all types of perverted dudes from different backgrounds and age groups, who paid double and triple to have sex with a pregnant girl, not to mention sex with a very beautiful one.
Natalia was not average looking, by far. She was taller than the others, proportionally built, had straight, long blond hair, and big beautiful eyes. She was someone you might see on the cover of a fashion magazine. She always made the pimps lots of money and when she got pregnant and her belly started to really show, Ivan just could not make himself do what he was supposed to do; take her for a two-hour ride and shoot her quietly in the outskirts of the city. The constant flow of customers and cash made Ivan lose track of time and now he had gotten himself into a dangerous mess.
Meanwhile, Natalia cleaned up her little girl’s body and re-wrapped her tighter in the blanket. She used extra material to put in between the baby and placenta so the newborn would be comfortable and clean.
“Hey little girl, you must be so hungry”, she said to her daughter. Natalia’s voice was full of love and care. The baby was desperately sucking on her own thumb. Natalia had the food ready to go. She pulled up her t-shirt, and gently placed her nipple into the baby’s mouth. Her daughter started to suck on her mother’s breast trying to get every drop of milk she could.
At first, Natalia felt uncomfortable and in pain but the little one quickly got into a rhythm and a few moments later the process became effortless for both. Breastfeeding her baby became an experience that she could not describe in words. She felt empowered and important in giving her child something vital, something irreplaceable by anything in the world, something very special.
As the baby got into the rhythm of eating, Natalia’s tension eased up and she just watched, in complete silence. The Little girl was looking straight into her mother’s eyes with pure love. She looked just like Natalia when she was born. And she had the same blue eyes, like a clear summer sky. The mother and child were bonding in the speed of light.
The whole time Natalia was feeding her baby, Ivan was by the door, pacing back and forth. About 20 minutes after his call, the door opened and Madam Liz walked in.
The moment she was inside, the whole room filled up with a strong mix of different types of perfume. It was a powerful smell but it was better than what was in the room until then.
Madam Liz was a very beautiful woman in her early fifties. Her shiny black hair was up and held nicely with a unique vintage barrette. Tastefully done makeup was covering her perfect classic features. Her exclusive designer dress with a belt made of crystals, lay perfectly flat on her hips, making her bottle-shaped figure even more noticeable. She had on a sophisticated outfit flawlessly matched with an animal print clutch and high heel boots that she wore with much self-assurance. Although, she was in a rush to get there, she looked like she had spent a long time getting ready. It would have taken a regular woman at least three hours to look even remotely close to how she looked. With her neck and hands covered in gold and diamonds and the way she carried herself, it was clear; Madam Liz was powerful and very rich!
She walked right by Ivan, purposely making loud noises with her boots. She didn’t even look at him. It was obvious she was pissed. He, on the other hand, took a step back as she passed by. He could sense her anger and threatening manner.
The bed sheet under Natalia was covered with all sorts of liquids from her earlier delivery. It grossed Madam Liz out and she kept her distance from the young family by at least 3 feet. She gave Natalia a dirty, degrading look and their eyes met for a split second: yet it was enough for the young mother’s eyes to show the pain and suffering she had been living through. All that Natalia saw staring back at her, though, were dark anger-filled eyes. Madam’s lips were tense with a little twitching. They matched her raging, heartless demeanor. She looked like she could have a nervous breakdown at any second.
The older woman broke the silence with a surprisingly calm voice. “This is happening in such horrible timing! It’s the worst thing this house has ever seen!”
Natalia was already looking down, not knowing what to do or what to say. When she didn’t hear Madam say anything else, she decided to look up and face the woman and whatever else fate had in store for her.
Their eyes met once again but this time Natalia was trying to silently talk to Madam Liz and somehow convince her to have some mercy. The young girl was truly hoping that somewhere deep within those dark, angry eyes there was light. After all, Madam was also a woman and maybe even a mother. Who knows if something human was still there, hiding quietly in her soul, under all that makeup and hatred.
“I named her Nadia. It’s short for Nadejda, which means: hope.” said Natalia with a sad, yet genuine smile. She never had a real mother. Most of her youth she had spent in the neighbors’ houses, while her parents were getting drunk, already asleep at home or on one of the park benches. For a moment, Natalia wished that Madam was her mother and the three-year long nightmare was now over.
The reaction she got back was not what she expected. The woman made an angry infuriated face and rapidly turned around, walking in fast steps towards Ivan.
“How many times do I have to say that pregnant whores HAVE to go as soon as their bellies show? Ten times? Twenty times? Thirty times? How many times did I tell you that sooner or later your money-hungry ass will get us all in trouble?” Her voice was rising higher and higher. Her face was now closer to his. She was getting on her tippy toes to match his height like he was some troubled boy and she was a nun in the Catholic school.
“I know! I know! I’m sorry, Madam. I don’t know what came over me and the others. She always made us tons of money and we didn’t want to let her go.” His head was down and he spoke in an almost inaudible whisper. It was nothing like Natalia had seen before. Ballsy, the bad-ass pimp was now a little punk kid; scared and frightened for his life.
“How am I going to explain this to our bosses? Tell me! I don’t even know what they would do to you?! I cannot even imagine! But, you can explain to them what happened yourself. I’m staying out of it! Let’s go!”
“Madam, what do I do with these two?” he asked in a meek manner.
“Give her a can of soup and lock them in. We’ll be back tomorrow to take care of it. Now let’s go!” she answered.
Ivan opened a can of chicken soup and placed it on the floor next to the bed. Without saying a word, he and Madam Liz walked out and locked the door on Natalia and the baby.
The young mother felt at ease as soon as they left. She decided to clean up the mess and finish taking care of the baby. One thing that had to be taken care of was the umbilical cord, which was still attached to the baby. She had to find a way to cut it but there wasn’t anything in that room that she could use. She hadn’t seen utensils in months. She decided to bite right through it and carefully placed the baby and the placenta on the bed. She gave the room one more glance and right before biting down on the cord she noticed the metal can of soup that Ivan opened. Happy that she didn’t have to bite down on something that just came out of her, she grabbed the sharp, still-attached cover and used it to cut the umbilical cord. There wasn’t much blood and she did her best at tying a knot with the end that was still attached to her newborn. She pulled the wet sheet from under herself and found a dry spot on the mattress for her and the baby to lie on. Tired and weak, the young family finally drifted off to sleep - two little girls –awaiting their heartless and unfair destiny to unfold.
Around 10 o’clock the next night, the door opened and Madam Liz walked in with another man. He was in his mid-forties and someone Natalia hadn't seen before. Ivan was not with them. His luck must have run out and his body was probably somewhere far away from the city, lying lifelessly where Natalia’s body could have been.
The new man looked very professional, wearing a perfectly pressed black suit, red tie, and white button-down shirt sticking out in a stylish manner from under the jacket. His cologne was strong but sensual. His short dark hair was perfectly spiked above his smooth hairline and nicely shaped forehead. The reserved look in his eyes made him look very attractive. For a moment Natalia thought that he and Madam Liz were a couple but then she reasoned that who knew what his real role was. There was nothing friendly about him.
Natalia was sitting in the middle of the bed, holding her baby, staring at him. He gave her a quick empty glance and looked back at Madam. She looked back at him and in a strange, almost imperceptible manner they had a quick silent conversation. The man shook his head and Madam Liz turned to look at Natalia.
The young mother shifted to the edge of the bed, holding her little bundle of joy that she grew to love so much and so fast. The baby was triple-wrapped in the blanket. That was the only piece of material Natalia could use. The bed sheet was on the floor and mostly wet; plus, it hadn’t been changed since she first arrived at that location. During the past 3 months, the poor girl had at least 100 clients a week, which probably amounted to over 400 per month. From the countless amounts of their fluids and all the blood and liquids from the delivery, that sheet was completely unusable. Up until yesterday, it was hard and dry from her client’s bodily discharges drying out on it, layer upon layer. To be able to lie on it and even sleep, she would think of the days when she used to lie on the dry hay in a barn in her village. That’s where she used to take afternoon naps during the summer months.
“Listen to me, you stupid teen”, said Madam Liz. “We have to get rid of your bastard as soon as possible! Do you understand me; as soon as possible?”
“What do you mean Madam?” asked Natalia. Her eyes filled with tears and her whole body shook. “I don’t want to give my baby to the orphanage. Please! That’s my baby!”
“Orphanage? What orphanage? Are you out of your mind? Too much fucking around got into your head? You have no documents and who would be so stupid as to drop that thing off there? What if we get caught? Are you trying to bring the whole organization down?”
The man, whose name was unknown, was still standing by the door, quietly observing what was going on. He had no emotions on his face. The only time he moved was to lift his right sleeve and check the time on his bright, expensive-looking gold watch.
“Here is what we are going to do”, said Madam. “Either you choke your kid right here and wrap it in a plastic bag or keep it alive and we will throw it into the dumpster ourselves! It is completely up to you, but you need to decide right now!”
Natalia looked at her in disbelief. Her eyes were wide with terror. Her trembling lips opened slowly like she was about to take her last breath. What she heard made her motherly instincts burst right through her rib cage. Her obedient self was no longer controlled by her conscious mind. Like a prisoner who was given the last wish before the execution, she screamed out in unstoppable passion.
“Oh! My God! No! Please! Madam Liz! Don’t kill my baby! I will do whatever it takes to keep her alive! I will fuck more clients. I will clean this whole house and other houses if you need me to! I can even take care of more babies from other girls!” begged Natalia. Her whole face was red and tears streamed from her eyes.
“Listen to me, you stupid whore! There are no other bastards! Just yours! We haven’t kept pregnant whores alive in over a year! You will co-operate and let us throw away you “garbage”! If not, then both of you will be sliced up and thrown into the Moscow River, like the others! Do you understand?”
The man in the back still had zero emotions and he was looking around the room in disgust. Madam turned to him and shook her head from side to side. He looked up at the ceiling, took a deep breath and started to walk towards Natalia, pulling out a pair of black rubber gloves from his pants pocket.