I have changed her name very slightly, because you never know how much trouble one can cause by being too truthful, this was written in 2001. “Lisa” died in 1990
Lisa was human sunshine.
Lisa was also very plain, and very fat. But she had a dazzling smile and sapphire eyes that could light up the night.
She never drank, smoked or touched drugs, she was just too sensible, too healthy, too wholesome.
Some people naturally exude goodness like a scent, Lisa was one of them.
Her favourite flowers were freesias, that seemed a strange choice to me.
Lisa was also a common prostitute.
She didn’t really have any other options. Her mother, big and brassy, with a halo of heavily bleached and lacquered hair framing her wrinkled panda eyes, was a prostitute too, far away, in another place.
Lisa was raised between children’s homes and friends…she had plenty of friends. There was never a stable home for her, or a regular education. She was bright though, far brighter than she thought.
She deserved everything in life, truly. No one ever heard her say a mean spiteful word about anyone.
The last time I saw Lisa was initially from a distance, I mistook her for someone else, another prostitute. A beauty who looked exactly like Julia Roberts.
Lovely on the inside too, the heroin she was fed by a middle aged pimp since she was seventeen had to fight for five years before it warped her mind or changed her nature. That day, it still had a year or two more to go. I was delighted to see her, and rushed over. I was amazed when she turned around and it wasn’t her at all, but Lisa.
Barely recognisable, in a few months all the fat had gone, her hair was restyled, and was it possible she was actually wearing subtle, understated make up?
Lisa, the sunny ugly duckling had finally become a swan.
But still the same person to talk too
I left her that night bubbling over with joy. Lisa wasn’t long for those streets, she would find a real life, she had always had plans. Sensible, determined, reasoned plans.
Two days later I opened a paper and found out that apart from the cab driver who took her home I was the last person to see her alive.
Hard-bitten women collapsed crying in the street over that girl. Most of them had never even seen her transformation. They just the loved person she was, her kindness, gentleness and sheer goodness.
I went to the Police to make a statement, for the sake of her mother more than anything. Of how wonderful she looked that night when I last saw her, and her positive frame of mind. Her death was rather ambiguous, at least to anyone who had not seen her that last night.
I had a very good address at the time, so I said she had done some work for me (not that Lisa had anything in the world to be ashamed of, nor that anyone in their right minds should be ashamed of Lisa).
A sad faced police officer showed me what killed her, two black plastic bags of empty butane canisters they had found under her bed, some, inexplicably, smeared with blood or something like it.
Inhaled butane is, among other things, an appetite suppressant. Lisa loathed drugs, or getting “high”, god knows what personal despair she must have been concealing under the sunshine she gave to others without stint. To have resorted to such desperate measures, so far against her nature, just to be thin.
If you knew Lisa, you would know that WAS the only possible explanation.
I went to her funeral with the largest bouquet of freesias I could find.
My heart ached to realise that it was only the previous time I had seen her, a few months before that we had talked about flowers. No one could have dreamed I would have such tragic use for the information so soon.
I signed the card with the name of every prostitute I could think of who had known and loved her. They would all be too ashamed to attend the funeral, but I wasn’t so sure what her mother did, or did not, know. If she knew, then a dozen names showed that she was well loved. If she did not, then what are a dozen names? Workmates perhaps?
People who loved her.
The funeral was huge, friends, neighbours, everyone who ever knew her (and was not a prostitute) must have been there. A trickle of children filed past the coffin, each leaving a single red rose.
Not just another whore, but a wonderful human being the world is a little worse without.