“Hi I saw your ad and would love to meet you later today, I live in Blackheath in SE London, have my own place, I can pay your travel over if interested? Please get back x”
“Hi darling, sent you a message earlier, forgot to give you my mobile no: xxxxxxxxxxxxx Prepared to give you more than £200 per hour if interested? xx Btw I am an ok looking guy!”
“ok sounds great when is a good time? we can meet at the nearest tube station to you i dont have a phone btw we’ll have to coordinate over email but would love to meet asap, emily”
“Hi Emily, thanks for getting back, I am based in Blackheath and would love to meet you about 7 tonight if that’s not too late? I am not near a tube station but could meet u at Blackheath railway station or arrange taxi? Pls get back”
“i can meet you at blackheath. 7 tonight is fine”
“Ok I will meet you at the railway station at 7, how will I know you? And can you confirm that you are not part an agency, i’m not interested in that. Sorry to ask ”
“i’ll be wearing the big sunglasses as in the photo and i’ll have a black plaid shirt on and a black skirt w/ black tights and black heels. how can i confirm it? here’s a link to my facebook page if that makes me seem more real. will you pay me at the station and then we’ll go back to your place? how much do you want to pay if not 200 pounds?”
“Thank you for your honesty, I will give you the £200 at the station, then extra £100 at my place. Could I also buy you a drink when you get to Blackheath?”
“okay it sounds fine. a drink sounds great too. thanks for not giving me a hard time. looking forward to seeing you x”
i stared at the computer screen.
i am i really going to do this? i guess i don’t have any choice.
i have about 12 pounds to last me for 10 more days in london.
what did i do to my debit card? the last time i remember having it was when i was buying a ticket to portsmouth at waterloo…
how could you be so irresponsible, marie?
but, i’m fixing the problem now.
there’s nothing else i can do, having not told any of my family or friends that i was going to england.
anyway, i want to make my own money, now that i’m 20.
i looked up how to get to blackheath railway station. i felt annoyed that i couldn’t just ride the tube. i had to go to london bridge, and then take a train from there.
it was 2 PM. i got off the computer and went and tried to nap in my hostel room.
starting from 4 i changed my clothes, brushed my teeth, straightened my hair, put perfume on, and tried to hide my huge dark circles with concealer. it was a lost cause. i figured i would just keep my sunglasses on until i was back at his place, when it would be too late for him to change his mind. i wondered if i was cheating him, by getting 300 pounds to have sex with him. i wondered why he would offer to pay more than i asked. i thought it was a bit suspicious, but i figured since we were meeting in public and he was paying me upfront it’d be okay.
i left the hostel at 4:30.
as i was walking to the tube station i heard whistling from across the street and turned to look. it was some australian boys about my age from my hostel, waving at me. i ignored them.
i rode the tube to london bridge station thinking about how i had met my friend there a few days ago, and how now i was going back under such different circumstances.
on the tube there were three school girls absolutely plastered in make-up talking at length about their diets and other girls at school. they all had incredibly grating voices, even more so than most english women.
“i was good yesterday, but this morning i had toast. oh but then for lunch i had cherries.”
“cherries are good, but the toast …”
“the other day i ate sooo much i had …”
“did you see she dyed her hair ginger and black? yeah, like that’s attractive.”
“she’s sooo fat, it’s hilarious!”
they all started giggling at length and it was so grating and i was so hungover
i couldn’t take it and switched compartments at the next stop.
as i was getting off the train one of them said, “that girl looked really weird.”
how can people like that actually exist?
i wondered what the guy would be like. i wished i had asked him to send me a picture. he had seemed like the nicest and was the most serious (i had annoyed with and ignored the guys who asked me to send them tons of pictures and write paragraphs about “what i was into.”)
i was worried i wouldn’t be able to talk to him or that things would be really awkward, but i decided i’d buy beer at a convenience store and chug it before i met him, so i’d be tipsy and less nervous.
the train to blackheath was annoying. i had a headache from being hungover, and it was absolutely packed with loud italian tourists who kept yelling and laughing almost right in my ear. i held my head in my hands. “i can’t stand these fucking people,” i whispered.
but then i looked at an adorable little black boy and smiled at him. then i felt a bit sad.
my train arrived at bleackheath station at about 6 pm. i walked to a convenience store and bought two stella artois. there wasn’t really anywhere i could sit and drink it discretely, so i guzzled one can in front of a trash can, and figured i would save the other can for a bit.
a lot of people gave me looks. blackheath was really pretty and really rich looking. everyone was pretty and well dressed. i felt uncomfortable.
i wondered where to wait for the guy. i decided just to lean against a wall near the exit of the train station.
two teenagers came up to me, one a very cute girl.
“do you get served?” she asked.
“do you get served?” she asked again, more slowly.
“i don’t understand what you’re asking me, sorry.”
they walked away.
i realized she meant that she wanted me to buy her alcohol. i sighed realizing i would probably never get the chance to get a cute 15 year old english girl drunk again.
i saw a kind looking business man waiting in front of the station across the sidewalk from me, smoking.
i went up to him. “um, can i get a cigarette off of you, please?”
“may i have a cigarette, please?”
“um, sure.” he said and gave me one.
i needed to smoke because it was 6:30 now and the whole thing was starting to seem more real to me.
i tried to comfort myself with these thoughts: i won’t get hurt because it doesn’t really make sense to think that will happen. most men want to have sex with cute 20 year old girls. very few are sociopath serial killers. caroline had sex with tons of guys from craigslist and nothing bad ever happened to her. and england isn’t nearly as violent…
and then i started to think: and anyway, i kind of don’t care if i get murdered. i guess that’s an immature thing to think and if something actually happened i’d be terrified, but right now thinking about it, i don’t care. i guess it’d be bad if I got murdered and then they told my parents the situation but…
i was mostly anxious about him not finding me attractive or not showing up and me being out of money, or not having anything to say and it being really awkward.
i looked at myself in the reflective window of the train station.
“don’t worry, you look beautiful,” some old man said as he walked past me.
i leaned back up against the wall, checking the clock constantly. i looked at every guy who walked towards the station, wondering if it was him. i was again mad at myself for not asking for a picture or at least a description. but i also figured it was probably for the best so i couldn’t back out due to his unattractiveness.
then finally at about 5 minutes past 7, a bald middle aged man in a banker’s shirt and khakis came up to me.
“hello, it’s great to see you, emily. i was worried you wouldn’t turn up!”
“hello, nice to meet you.” i said politely, and shook his hand.
“i have to go to the cash machine, but i’ll be back in about five minutes okay?”
i wondered if he was really going to the atm or if he thought i was unattractive and was running away.
but, no, he came back quickly.
he seem very excited.
he lead me to a pub.
“i was trying to imagine what black plaid would look like, but then i saw your sunglasses and realized that it must have been you…”