The Little Bath Tub Girl

Crossing a bridge on the way home she stopped to look at the river. Studying her reflection she thought “skin as white as snow… So why do I feel so dirty?” Taking the chocolate bar out of her pocket she broke off a piece. Sabine waited for the rich, sweet, creamy taste to sugar her mood, but it didn’t happen. Swallowing her mouthful she took another, but again she could feel nothing. Piece after piece she crammed in her mouth until she struggled to close her lips over the many small brown squares. Trying to chew her mouthful she felt a trickle of saliva fall down her chin. The thick taste of chocolate in her mouth was sickening not sweetening. Sabine felt vile. Spitting it all out she wiped her mouth on her sleeve. Baz had been wrong. Even if the chocolate had put a smile on her face, what good would it have done and how long would it have lasted for? Climbing back onto her bike Sabine thought about the last “Pocket of Happiness” in her bra. “It takes all my worries away Sabine, and makes everything ok.” Cycling away she felt the small packet pressing against her chest. The weight of it increasing as she continued to think it over. Whenever in the past Sabine had allowed her mind to linger on the white powder too long, she had thought of it as ground up bones. Now she pictured it as sherbet. Not sickening like the chocolate, but sweet and potent, melting in her mouth and being absorbed through her veins.

Letting herself into the house Sabine could tell no one was in. The deathly silence greeted her like a cold handshake. Sitting at the kitchen table Sabine took out the white powder in its plastic pocket and stared at it. Baz’s words circled in her head. She pictured her mum, how despite the bruise and split lip, she would still stay because of this. Sabine looked at the small packet in her hand. It seemed to disappear, already a part of her, camouflaged by the whiteness of her skin. To her dad, this was money; to her mum, happiness; Baz, sanctuary; and now to Sabine this tiny bag became filled with the white powder of hope.

Ascending the stairs Sabine’s body shimmered in the glow of the landing light. Locking the bathroom door behind her she placed her pocket of hope on the windowsill above the bath. Turning on the hot tap she waited for the cold water in the pipes to run through. Putting the plug in she watched as the steam began to gather. Rising up into the air it stuck to the cold glass, only to run down again in water droplets. Shedding her clothes like the skin of a snake, she let the debris of her day fall to the floor. The tiles were cold beneath her feet in contrast to the hot steamy air she sucked into her lungs. Sabine could feel her white skin pricking with the heat, beginning to flush red as the steam circled her making her sweat. Lowering herself into the bath she could feel her blood boiling in the burning water, her skin flinching, but she lay still, waiting for the numbness to come. Water vapour and sweat had threaded themselves through her hair so it lay limp and damp sticking to her back, neck and shoulders. Closing her eyes Sabine submerged herself in the water, shearing her body of all that had happened that day. Rising to the surface she gasped for breath. Turning off the tap Sabine looked up at her pocket on the windowsill. It whispered endearments and promises of happiness to her. Reaching forward she picked up the little plastic bag and opened the seal. Looking at the white chalky powder inside Sabine thought of how she ate sherbet by sucking it off her finger. Coating her finger in the substance she looked at it and smiled. Sucking the powder off into her mouth Sabine winced at the taste. It was like stomach acid and smelt of disinfectant. Looking at how much was left in her pocket Sabine tipped her head back and emptied the contents into her mouth in one go. As the powder mixed with her saliva into a paste Sabine swallowed it quickly.

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