Stephanie struggled to shove her feet into red stilettos outside the cheap-looking door she’d just closed. As her foot found its nook, toes reassuringly squeezed by reinforced satin, she thought she could hear the man on the other side of the door, just barely audible: “Fucking squaw bitch.”

She expected a lot of things from the man she just left, but she was thinking more along the lines of an exasperated sigh, maybe even something whipped fast and hard at the door. Instead he had chosen the most violent option he had. She wasn’t expecting that.

There had been nothing to suggest such a reaction when she was in the room with him. Only twenty minutes earlier she had woken up there, still-damp flannel sheets clinging to her body. She could smell him right away. Dried sweat and morning breath, alcohol, stale cigarettes. A scent that could belong to anyone—high-end businessman, cheap cheesy salesman, university professor, grease-fisted plumber. Pieces of their night were still in her head. Fleeting flashes of bare skin, demeaning expressions forgivable only when grunted during sex, all woven into a night that was slipping from her even as she examined the fragments.

Published in TOK: Writing the New Toronto, Book 6. Purchase the book to read the full piece.