The Little Bath Tub Girl

Based on the fairy tale ‘The Little Matchstick Girl’ by Hans Christian Anderson.

The fresh smell of dust, wood and food that so many people take for granted in their homes, was the stuff Sabine’s dreams were made of. The mephitic vapours of fags and booze every morning made the cold water she splashed on her face feel like slime.

Descending the stairs Sabine’s delicate frame glittered in the morning light. Sometimes on a good day, when her mum would shine too with that morning light, she would place her hand on Sabine’s cheek smiling and say “Skin as white as snow, lips as red as blood, my heart for you my child is filled with the deepest love.” But this was no fairy tale, and Sabine did not kid herself that such happy spells would last.

When most girls of her age were worrying about the impending notion of breasts, sex, periods and boys, Sabine learnt that a bra was useful for only one thing. Coming home after school she would pack the two empty cups with the white sachets her dad gave her. Cycling into the night Sabine would meet her dad’s ‘friends’ at bus stops, phone boxes, garages and outside pubs. When she had been younger the black sky had frightened her, now it was just a blanket that suffocated out the sunlight. Instead of feeling free as she sailed through the quiet cold wind, Sabine felt whipped to the road by her tyre tracks. The skid marks scarring her soul. Meeting the familiar faces, she would reach down her top to exchange the pouches of white powder in her bra for cash. She hated this part. It felt dirty. One time a woman had tried to underpay her so Sabine had asked for the remaining money. The woman’s eyes were shot red as she spat the words onto her face, “Just give me my fucking fix you bitch!” The woman had chased Sabine hysterically as she cycled away. Whatever happened, it would be nothing compared to the punishment waiting at home if she returned short changed.

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