Joan walked into her room in the dorm and locked the door behind her. That was a privilege reserved for supervisors. She unlocked her collar and removed it — something reserved for her alone, as far as she knew. She got out clothing and dressed. It felt odd any more, wearing clothes, when she spent so much time nude. She picked up her purse and left, locking her room, and left the dorm by a little-used side door.
She rode a bus to her father’s neighborhood, stopped at a grocery to buy supplies for dinner, and continued to her father’s apartment. She had considered it their apartment, but she had spent the last year living mostly in the slave dorm. She let herself in, and winced at the mess. She spent a while cleaning things up, then started to cook. When things were in the oven, she surveyed her old room and the rest of the apartment.
When her mother had died, she had left a lot of her possessions to Joan, including a rather large sum of money in a trust that Joan couldn’t access even partially until she was 21. Joan figured that was a way to protect her from her father enslaving her to get the money. Even several years ago, her mother had seen the beginnings of the decline of her father, and had acted to protect Joan as much as she could. Joan wondered whether her mother would have approved of the way she had protected herself, but decided that it was the best that she had been able to do and would have to suffice. All of her mother’s nicer things also went to Joan.
Joan knew that her father would start selling things off, and she didn’t know what might happen to her things, so before signing the asset contract she had worked with her lawyer to rent a secure storage locker downtown. It was inside with a secure door, not one of the cheap garage-like things that let water leak in and were regularly ransacked by burglars. She had borrowed a truck and taken all of her childhood things — books, mementos, records, old birthday cards from grandparents, photo albums, jewelry — and put them in her locker. She also took her mother’s things, like clothing she wanted to keep, the silver service, sterling silver cutlery, china, photographs, and books, and moved them there too. Many of the pictures on the walls were copies she had made on her computer. Her father hadn’t noticed that almost all of Joan’s stuff was gone or that his wife’s things were depleted. Joan had even taken the antique rocking chair and footstool that were the only heirloom furniture her mother had, apparently without his notice. She had noted that various things of her father had started to disappear. She had done her removals just in time. There wasn’t anything left in the apartment that she wanted to keep for sentimental reasons.
Joan finished making the meal and set the table, and hoped her father would come home at about the usual time. He didn’t expect her. He knew she was working in a bar, but didn’t ask which one, and didn’t know about her asset slavery.
Just after his usual time to arrive home, he appeared. He seemed happy to see Joan, and delighted at dinner. “What do I owe this visit to?” he asked.
“Just hadn’t been home in a while.”
“No, you haven’t. Is school out now?”
“Yes, the semester just ended. I’m not taking classes this summer.”
They had light conversation over the meal, which went pleasantly. That began to change after dinner, when her father fetched his drink, which she had not served at dinner, and Joan washed up. She came to the living room and sat, and saw that he was well on his way to being drunk. “How have you been lately?” she asked.
He replied, “Not so hot. I’m getting lots of hassle at work, and I’m slowly going bankrupt. I have to find a way to get more money.”
“I meant physically. Have you gone to the doctor?”
“I’m stumbling along. I don’t bother with the doctor because all he tells me to do is stop drinking.”
“Have you tried doing that?”
“Naaa. Don’t have to. I just need a way to make some money.”
He paused for a while, then said, “Buddy of mine told me that he got good money for his daughter …”
“Dad! Sell your daughter for booze money!?”
Her father looked offended. “Not just booze money. Rent. Car repair. Paying loans. Don’t have any other way of getting the money. Same buddy told me about a place that buys girls and swears to get them into nice places…”
Joan had seen the ads that she suspected were the source of his information rather than a “buddy.” She suspected that the people who said how well it worked were carefully selected, and that most girls that got sold out through there were dumped on the slave market. She decided not to tell him about how she had protected herself, and stood to leave. “Well, Dad, nice having dinner with you and the threat of slavery. See you later.” She left; he barely noticed.