The Mark

She walked past the warehouse, ignoring the cacophony of steel beating steel. She walked past the grocer’s – he was busy catering to a couple of housewives who had sauntered to him to buy salt or biscuits or, perhaps, salted biscuits. It was a bright afternoon, and the orange coloured gate to her mistress’ house stood open for her to walk in and do the daily chores – mop the floor and do the  dishes.

It had been ages since she took a train to this city to work as a maidservant here. The city is a collage of contrasts – cold people and freezing winters interspersed by warm paychecks and searing summers laced with a faint smell of rain. She had by now decided that she’d stay here no further than another year. Whatever money she’d be able to collect by that time, she’d simply carry it home and build herself a quiet life.

A stone’s throw away from the mistress’ house, she stopped short when something tugged at her thigh from behind. She turned her head and saw a gaping dog biting at her. Its teeth pierced her flesh.

Years later, back in her serene hometown, she would often shrug off her pants to look at the only visible mark that the big city would leave on her.

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