Hidden under a pile of silk underwear, sequins, nipple-tassels and stockings lurked an envelope with ‘Megan’ scrawled on the front in black marker-pen.
Megan first thought it might be a late Valentines’ Day card or a note from a secret admirer. She pulled out the three-page handwritten letter eagerly. Each word was carefully scripted in fountain-pen, with curving consonants and circular vowels. She held the pages between both hands and began to read, carefully at first, trying to savour the contents.
I know your filthy secret and you disgust me.’
She clasped her hands around the paper and drew it closer to her face, unable to stop her hands from shaking. She scoured the letter quickly, too quick to process everything. And then again, forcing herself to re-live every word like walking over shards of glass.
Megan crumpled to the ground and stifled the sound emerging from her mouth by pressing the letter tight to her lips.
The final clause had smudged slightly, but she could still make it out:
‘Be a good girl and do as I say – or I’ll reveal everything.
She dropped the letter in her lap, dragged her trembling hands down her wet cheeks, and inhaled deeply, commanding her body to calm itself.
Without hesitation, she scrunched up the letter and threw it back into her wardrobe. She didn’t need the physical evidence to remind her of the contents. It was burning in her mind, engulfing her brain in a cage of smoke.
Megan stumbled to her feet and grabbed the unlabelled bottle of pills out of her bedside drawer.
Pill, swallow, breathe.
‘My first command: I want you to make me an official member of your little burlesque group.’
Megan paused for a moment, stunned physically whilst the cogs of her mind turned at double speed. Her pupils flickered from left to right, reading the situation like a computer would. One blink, and her eyes became centred and focussed.
She looked at herself in the mirror, fixed her make-up, and picked up her phone.