Sandra Chapels shook her stiff legs after the approximately one hour trip from London Heathrow to De Gaulle airport. She was finally here. All her dreams were coming to pass. She looked around at the almost empty airport. Airports usually had passengers buzzing but then again the sparse airport could be expected with an 8.09am arrival. The trip to Paris was uneventful except for a whining toddler in the middle aisle. She looked again at an e-copy of her contract. She couldn't believe that she'd be working as a senior buyer at the prestigious Dupree Clothing Company. The transfer to London from its Central London Branch has been straightforward but then again she has to show that she was deserving of it among the other 5 candidates. Her self-study in French at the week-ends, her attentive customer service skills and increased sales on her shift paved the way for her. Now at the pick-up point she thought intently yet excitedly about her new life in France. Monsieur Arneaux, the store's deputy manager had informed her before her departure from London that he would be waiting for her. "Where is he?", she thought.
It was now two hours past her arrival and Sandy was jittery and worried more so because Monsieur Arneaux was not picking his calls having left 7 voicemails. "I wonder what could have happened to him", she thought. Uneasiness crept over her. She was in a country she did not know and the only person she knew -on paper - was Monsieur Arneaux. Another tensed 30 minutes passed before an elderly lady, neatly dressed with a cane approached her. "Bonjour, are you Mademoiselle Chapels?", she asked. "Mais qui" [but yes], she responded. "Monsieur Arneaux extends his apologies. He's been held up at the warehouse and has asked me to pick you up and take you to your apartement". "I am Madame Renee", the lady said while giving Sandy a friendly kiss on both cheeks. Sandy was relieved. Finally it wasn't a nightmare.
The cobbled, quiet streets of Paris felt different from the city energy she was used to experience in London. "She would have to get use to it", she silently said to herself. An hour passed and then another 3. The streets had all merged into one for her. "Madame Renee, from what I read the chateaux apartmentes are only 45 minutes from the station but we seem to have been driving for almost 4 hours. As if taking a scene from a horror movie the pleasant Madame Renee turned around from the driver's seat and with cold piercing eyes said in a stern voice, "Mademoiselle, be quiet!" Cold shivers were now running all over Sandy as her face turned white. Her mind was racing at a 100 miles. "What had she gotten herself into?" "Was it a scam?" Her thoughts were interrupted when the car was brought to an abrupt stop. "Come with me", the Madame said yanking her out of the car. In the dim shadows of the strange looking building overlooking the mountain she heard many girlie voices in agony. "You stay here with Noelle", said the Madame.
Noelle with the help of the night sky through the upper window was a plump, brunette girl of about 16 years. "Where am I and where is Monsieur Arneaux?" In low tones Noelle explained to her that she had been conned into a life of prostitution with Monsieur Arneaux being the pimp and the Madame grooming the girls. She explained further that they used different strategies with each girl making it difficult to track or trace them. Sandy felt sick to the stomach.
"What would happen to her? How does she escape?" Noelle could read her mind and said to her, "I have been making a rope to the window to escape. You can help me finish the rope with your bed cover. Tonight, we try escape, hear". Sandy didn't know what to believe. She would have to trust Noelle that she was telling the truth.
Lights out came a booming sound. "That is your Monsieur Arneaux. Quick climb into your bed", said Noelle to her. She was running on autopilot and did as told. As soon as the coast was clear Noelle said, "now we take our chance". They put the bedside locker near the window, held unto the bars, tied the sheets to the bars and squeezed out through the broad bars. Noelle wimped as she pushed herself out. Her body was bruised. "We run down the hill, fast", she said. Sandy run so fast her legs were sore.
Near the bottom of the hill they saw a police car and ran to it hoping it was not a fake. The police were startled to see them but Sergeant Sardinia who was on night watch to observe the strange house was glad to see them.
"Girls, where are you running from"? "Are you from the strange house?", asked Sgt Sardinia.
You are very lucky. Your lives have been spared sorrow, misery and heartache. Sandy couldn't wish herself in London sooner.
You are quintessentially special,
= Welcome to Authentically Penned. The contents produced here have been in part plucked from pages in my life. I am all the more richer in my experience and thankful for all I have been through and to come.