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Stylist Short Stories: Another Day Being Amirah by Asli Jensen

Written by Asli Jensen

This week’s Stylist Short Story is Another Day Being Amirah by Asli Jensen. It explores the complicated feelings of being a single mother and student while making a living pole dancing.

Amirah was an unintentionally busy woman. She was juggling two demanding jobs and completing a part-time bachelor’s degree in sports science. She often wondered what fruits would bear from studying a significantly unemployable degree. But that was her decision and she had chosen to stick with it. On top of this, there was Ibrahim. Her first and only born.

As usual, she was running late for her shift at The Blue Moon, a gentlemen’s club located in the muggy enclaves of Soho. Her mind was consumed by errands, essays and Ibrahim. She had an assignment due at 9pm and her cruel lecturer would show no compassion for her adverse circumstances. Amirah’s decision to submit her work on time caused her delays. The childminder wasn’t happy.

These busy moments in Amirah’s life were a harsh reminder that there were not enough seconds in the day. Ever. It was a reality that she had accustomed herself to after being abandoned by the compass of her life. Ibrahim’s father. He had deserted her swiftly following the birth of their son four years ago. She never understood why. No explanation.

Amirah was pacing up a dimly lit alleyway on Wardour Street when a foul smell slithered into her nostrils. A urine and marijuana concoction that was infused with London sewage. She twitched her nose in annoyance and disgust. She knew that this lifestyle would not be sustainable for long.

If her mother knew that she spent her nights contorting her body against sticky and slimy poles, she’d be disowned. And Ibrahim would be too. Just by association. She often daydreamed about her small-knit community chasing behind her with fired pitchforks, her and Ibrahim panting their way through the side streets of Soho. She needed the money. There wasn’t another choice. Her family had turned a blind eye to her ex-husband’s public affair with drugs and violence. Why not her? She flickered her eyelashes, fighting the fears out of her mind.

The Blue Moon was in her sights. Posters of bland women dressed provocatively lined the alleyway. The girls in the club bore no resemblance to the pale faces and thin eyebrows that decorated the wall. London rain permeated the ground. Amirah avoided the puddles, dancing her way intricately between them. She thought of Ibrahim playing hopscotch in the communal park outside their flat in Elephant & Castle.

The two oversized security guards, Chris and Shaq, were overlooking the alleyway. They exerted a deceitful sense of machismo. They didn’t fool Amirah. The same lacklustre fear she saw in her ex-husband’s eyes was plastered on their faces. All it would take to scare them off would be a short man with a hammer, she thought. Amirah knew that having security guards at a high-profile strip club only served to offer a false sense of security. To whom she wondered.

“Hey guys,” she smiled forcefully.

They both nodded at her. They knew that she was late and that the mistress would not be happy. There was no time for small talk. She was happy. She was happy to not waste her breath.

Her armpits were saturated with sweat. Her mistress, Claudia, was waiting for her in the changing room, her bottom firmly planted on the table. Her silver hair was neatly tied up in a long ponytail that swam down to her waist. Her lips were painted dark. She wore an Irish green two-piece set. Intentionally laced so the burgundy of areolas was visible to those who wanted to see. Amirah thought she was a beautiful woman.

“Amirah, you’re late.”

Claudia was trying her best to come across harsh, but deep down, she sympathised with Amirah. She too was a single mother. Her heightened status barely gave her the financial merits. Another woman trying to make ends meet.

“I know, I’m sorry. I had to drop Ibrahim off, and I completely lost track of time,” Amirah rambled.

She quickly glanced at her rose-coloured Sekonda watch, hoping that Claudia wouldn’t notice. It was nearly 11pm; she was almost an hour late. The heat started to rise from her feet and the air felt thick. Amirah’s eyes began to marble as her anxiety began to trickle. Her make-up would be ruined.

“Listen hun,” Claudia placed her finger firmly on Amirah’s lips, silencing her tears. “The men are hungry outside; get yourself ready and get going.”

“Thank you,” Amirah said.

She sighed a breath of release, dismantled her clothes and flung her bag into the locker.

“Hun,” Claudia called for her.

“Yes,” she turned to face her.

“There’s a punter in the lounge; he’s asking for you,” she smiled.

“It’s not the creep from last week, is it?” she asked.

“No, this one is handsome. He’s a dark-skinned man with a scar on his cheek,” Claudia almost drooled.

Scar. Cheek. Amirah sunk into the ground.

After these long four years, how had he found her here?

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