Employment at Will

86 Serangoon Rd
Singapore | Google Maps

It was seven floors down the fire escape, a 15-foot drop, and then 11 blocks to a shelter for girls like her. Girls who had believed the agents’ lies.

She’d been there 8 months, but had barely made a dent in the fees: the visa, the papers, the travel, the commission. The earnings to send back to her family were a dimly remembered dream.

She touched the bruise on her cheek. The swelling from her last beating had gone down enough that her vision was restored. If she stayed, there would be more of this.

She thought of her family back home in Myanmar, of their scant rice and the thin soup. If she ran away, there would even less to go around. It would fall on them to pay the agent’s fee.

She stared out at the stairs, the street, the moonlight—then closed the blinds and turned inside.

150 words

This has been an edition of What Pegman Saw. To read more stories inspired by the prompt, click here.

Inspired by From Myanmar to Singapore: Why the maid trafficking continues.


  1. Slavery by any other name. Really excellent and emotionally tense.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much, glad it came across.


  2. Post-apocalyptic? Excellent!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sadly this one is true rather than post apocalyptic. But it’s not the first time things have felt post apocalyptic lately, so there’s that…

      Thanks for reading, Scott!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The sad reality, with girls—and not only girls—caught in that dilemma: to help their family survive another day, week, year, or to seek survival away from this trade.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. For sure. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be caught in such a dilemma. Makes one grateful!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Indeed it does. These girls aren’t paying for a habit.


  4. Just horrifying that people have to endure such things and awful that anyone can treat another person that way. The trap your character is caught in is chilling – heartbreakingly told, Karen

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Lynn. In the documentary I watched, I was astonished at the cruelty these girls endured. A tough place to be.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It is modern slavery, isn’t it? And it all goes on under our noses.


  5. A terribly sad story and all-too real. All over the world desperate people are tricked by traffickers like this, promising them one thing and then requiring a long list of fees and charges that can never be paid back. They just get dug in deeper and deeper and as you point out, they can’t escape for themselves because their families will suffer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are right Joy–all over the world. How cruel to take advantage of the desperate. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. truly sad- and you brought us into this sad reality quite well –
    I once watched a documentary where a girl jumped out of the window – and they sent her back home – with two broken legs – and it was hard on all –

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh my, that’s terrible! Tragic for that poor girl. Thanks for reading Prior.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. peterkirsch

    Thank you for this one.

    The truth behind this story enrages me. For decades, the US-held Commonwealth island of Saipan was used for this type of slave labor until 2009.

    To think that my grandfather fought the Japanese to secure an island that would later be used to encourage forced labor, beatings, and US government-sanctioned human-trafficking, it just makes me ill.


    There isn’t enough fire in hell for those who would profit from the suffering, kidnapping, rape, torture, detainment, oppression, and misery of so many fellow humans.

    Until all are free, we must stay vigilant, active, committed, and aware.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Amen Peter, well said! Thanks for reading.


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