Fishnet by Kirstin Innes
Rona Leonard walks out of her sister Fiona’s flat and disappears.
Six years on, worn down by work, child care and the aching absence in her life, Fiona’s existence is blown apart by the revelation that, before she disappeared, Rona had been working as a prostitute.
Bittersweet, sensual and rich, Fishnet is a story of love and grief, interwoven with an empathetic, controversial take on the sex industry and its workers. An outstanding novel, it challenges assumptions about power, vulnerability and choice.
I’d vomited so hard that I’d made myself cry great fat smudges of mascara, dripping down onto the cheap burnished metal trough that deputised for sinks here. The toilets were designed for female friendship in 1999; two pans to a cubicle, no lids. I suppose that made it harder to do drugs on. I heard three songs morph into different sets of beats while I was in there, carefully washing my face, scouring off every streak, squinting at myself in the crappy tin mirror, and starting again. None of my group came in to check I was okay, although I did get a motherly hug off a Slosher, gin on her breath and a smothering floral scent as she pulled my face in to her big soft bosom, rocked me, told me aw, darlin, it’ll be all right. You’ll be all right. We’ve all been there, eh?
I don’t think we have.
Three henz and Heather were still on the floor when I resurfaced, repeating the invisible pole dance endlessly for a room that had moved on, to a song where a robot’s voice had an orgasm: ooh-ooh-ooh-OOHYEAH. The others were clustered around the bar, around those boys in boxy shirts who seemed to have bred four more boxy friends. Samira was there, holding herself apart, stately, and of course attracting far more attention than the rest of the pack together.
The man who’d caught my sleeve materialised out of the darkness in front of me again.
‘So, you not remember your old friends, eh doll? You too good for us now, eh?’
I made for the bar. He followed.
‘Aye, well we remember you, though, darlin. We all remember you round here.’
He laughed. It wasn’t an unpleasant laugh, but it ended in the long slow hack of a life-and-death smoker.
‘There’s precious few as talented as you around these days.’
I turned round. He wasn’t so old, really, quite possibly still in his forties, although the drink had taken its toll, etched its years into his face.
‘Oh aye. No forgetting you, hen.’ I looked straight at him.
‘I’m so sorry,’ I said, over the music. ‘I really think you must have confused me with someone else.’
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