The Little Bath Tub Girl

As the night began to darken the corners of the room Sabine went downstairs to find her dad. As she reached the bottom step she noticed her mum sat leaning against the front door. Wearing her coat surrounded by packed plastic bags, she held her face in her hands with her knees drawn up to her chest. Her mousy brown hair was strewn forwards, the strands hanging lifelessly. Thin and frail she quietly sat there, soaking herself in sorrow. “Mum, what’s going on?” Sabine’s words hung in the air like a thick fog, bearing down on them both. Crouching down next to her, she tucked her mum’s hair behind her ear and gave her shoulder a squeeze. As the tear track stained face looked up Sabine saw the split lip and the bruised face that the large sunglasses were failing to conceal. Reaching into her pocket Sabine’s mum took a cigarette to her lips drawing breath quickly. “Everything’s fine sweetheart. Everything’s fine. I just fell down the stairs again.” Pushing the sunglasses back onto her head she laughed, “Stupid aren’t I? You know what I’m like though.” Sabine looked at her mum, hands shaking, skin so thin you could see each blue vein running its course. “Are you leaving?” Sabine could feel the words tearing at her throat as she asked them, her heart beating them out of her body. “Ha! Leave? No darling, no.” her voice dropped to a whisper, “I can never leave, not even if I want to.” A black tear streamed from the wet pool of makeup smeared about her mum’s eyes. “Now, you go find your dad. It’s nearly dark.” Looking at her mum Sabine saw the resolution in her eyes. She knew she wouldn’t leave. This house was a prison, and the white powder the chains that kept them there.

Sabine’s dad was a man who made a room feel cold no matter what the temperature. Handing his daughter eight of the white sachets, he waited for her to secure them upon herself. When she had finished, Sabine looked up at him for approval. “And where are you going tonight?” his heavy voice stifled the air. Reciting the order of stops and names of clients, Sabine watched the flicker of a smile creep across his face. “That’s my girl.” He winked at her and grinned. His perfect smile creased his face, and for a second, even twinkled in his eye. If this was pride, it was the closest thing to love Sabine had ever received from her dad.

With the black road beneath her, and the black sky above her, Sabine sailed between the two streamlined by darkness. The moon hung in the sky like a large fifty pence coin, glinting among the stars. There was a cloud that dressed the night in a purple veil. It reminded Sabine of the bruise on her mum’s face. Purple and black it had coloured her eye socket. Highlighting her cheekbone, the red spreading down the side of her face so that it just touched the jaw line. Pedalling harder Sabine pushed her pain into the road. Cementing the frown on her forehead she clenched her teeth, forcing her feelings out of sight.

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