by Crystal Lacey Winslow

Nikkisi Ling
Spring 2006

My tale of a train wreck lifestyle began when my mother committed suicide. My sister, Noki, and I were orphaned because we didn’t have any maternal or paternal family. I wish I could say that I always made the best decisions when it came to Noki and I, but I didn’t. I was fourteen years old when I turned my first trick. After I had been raped by my foster father, Reverend Daniel, I charged him forty dollars.

I shook my head and grimaced. The past hurt.

I looked in the mirror and she stared back at me. Only I didn’t know her anymore. Her high cheekbones were rounded by the recent cheek implants, changing the oval-shaped face into an apple-like roundness. Her Asian eyes were Americanized, and now looked average. Her long, luxurious, jet-black hair was cropped into a short bob and dyed a chestnut brown with ash-blond highlights. The woman in the mirror was me, but after three extensive plastic surgeries, Nikkisi Ling—fugitive—no longer existed. Instead Molly Mathis, an ordinary housewife, stared back at me.

My new life began with the most wonderful, selfless man on this earth. His former name was Joshua Tune. Now he was Matthew Mathis. Matt gave up a life of freedom to live with me on the run, in seclusion and cut off from his family and friends. He did all of this for his love of me. He accepted all of me and my baggage—former hustler, prostitute, and alleged murderess. I was no murderess, though. I mean, yes, I did steal thousands by pick-pocketing my victims. And, yes, I did sell my body. But I never, ever, murdered anyone, unless you counted Noki. I couldn’t help but blame myself for her death.
Joshua stepped up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. “I need to go back,” he stated sternly.

“You can’t!” I snapped, unwavering in my stance. I stared him down in the mirror. “They will catch you and you’ll go to jail for a very long time.” I turned around and looked him in the eye. “I can’t lose you!”

Joshua kissed me on the forehead. “I won’t go to jail because I won’t get caught. It’s that simple. You’ve already bought us several fake passports, two of which we’ve used and cleared customs without a hitch. You’re a pro at this identity fraud thing, and my years as an attorney have prepared me to lie without detection. I can do this,” he assured me.

I shook my head. “Why are you doing this? To us?” I asked. I knew why he wanted to go back, and his lack of control concerned me. One slip could get us arrested, or maybe even killed.


“My name’s Molly! You can’t even get that right!” I stepped out of his embrace and ran a nervous hand through my bob. “You’re gonna slip up!”
“Don’t patronize me,” he snapped. “I know what to call you in public. You’re underestimating me, as usual, and not believing in me to do the right thing.”
“Do the right thing? How is going back to the United States where both of us are fugitives doing the right thing?”

“Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,” Joshua exclaimed, and then exhaled deeply. His bright blue eyes looked tired and despondent. “Why can’t you understand that this isn’t a debatable subject?”

“Sonuvabitch! How dare you talk to me like this? I’m your wife!”
“So was she. And she’s dying. I have to go back to say goodbye. I owe her that much. With or without your blessing, I’m going back.”

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