Girls in White Dresses [from The Glass House of Forgetting]

Dear Sir and Madam,

My family was desperately poor in Taipei. There were nine of us, and I was the oldest.

My parents sold me. I’m not sure how much money they received from the two men in suits who took me from home in the middle of the night.

My mother woke me from sleep. She was crying. Bong hii, I’m so sorry. Please forgive us.

They blindfolded me in the car. When the blindfold was removed, I was in a cage down an alley with other girls in cages. We were called the Girls in White Dresses.  I was twelve years old.

The first man who paid to have me, the term for it—jumped on me like an animal and ripped apart my insides. I bled and cried throughout the whole night.

Many more men did the same. Hundreds. When I looked in the mirror, I didn’t know who I was. I was not a wife, not a woman—still a girl with stringy, dark hair.

After five long years, one of the other Girls in a White Dress and I escaped after our men left. One of the men had fallen in love with her, came in the early, dark hours of morning and opened our cages.

I heard about your House where guests journey to forget horrible things that have happened. I pray that you have room for me and can help me forget all the men who took my body that I did not want to give.

Please write to me at my return address, the home of my friend’s man friend. He has promised to marry her, but I am skeptical.

I look forward to hearing your reply. I’m waiting with tears in my eyes and my soul in my throat.

                                                                                                                         Sincerely,

                                                                                                                        Bong-hhi

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