Photography by Adam Arkapaw

Ninette is a fragile creature. She never stands up for herself. When the gas company overcharged her, she shut up and kept on paying the bills until they sent one so horrendous she could not afford it.

A friend said, don’t worry dear, sleep on it this weekend and on Monday, you give them a call and tell them. When she finally did, they checked up on her old bills and realised they had been overcharging her for a long time.

She did not receive another bill for six months.

She would like a garden of flowers. But the lady next door objected, saying that she has asthma and would not be able to bear the pollen. The lady next door is very frightening. When angered she bangs on Ninette’s door, screaming imprecations. It takes very little to set her off.

Ninette tries to steer clear of her and not do anything to offend her. For instance, although she would like to get a dog or cat as companion, she is afraid. What would the loud lady say? Would she bang on her door and scream? Better not to risk it.

Ninette is 60 but strangely childlike. She has been violently assaulted by her father, husband, brother and even casual male acquaintances who happen to turn up for a coffee. She never reports them.

She never does anything but pray. She is afraid. Maybe if she reports them or takes out a restraining order they will come over and kill her. She is all alone. There is no one to protect her. She doesn’t even have a phone.

She spends her life on her knees. Hands clasped fervently. Pushing away despair. Forcing words into the emptiness. She prays about everything and for everyone. She prays and prays and prays but God is not tangible and she wants someone there who will talk back. She would like a companion but she is afraid of men – their appetites, their anger.

She is so lonely.

Sometimes when the darkness takes her, she wants to kill herself. But she is afraid. Self-destruction is a sin. Mortal. Unforgivable.

So she sits in her dark apartment listening to the silence as her mind darts into dusty corners, searching…

Why is she all alone? Why was her life so blighted? Why could nobody love her?

Maybe there are no answers. Maybe the sky is empty and there is no God and the world is truly bad and she is damned for Eternity which should only be a few years more.

If she’s lucky.