Runaways

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Almost Invisible
Excerpt

All of a sudden I decided what I really, really wanted was a bath...

I heated water on the woodstove, four big pots, the most I could fit on top. I put more logs on the fire and left the door open so it was roaring. By the time the water was warm enough, the kitchen felt like a tropical paradise.

The dishpan was big enough for me to get both feet in. I wiped it out with snow and set it on the floor next to the stove. Then I half-filled it with hot water, cooled down with more snow so I wouldn’t scald myself ...

The one piece of soap left had teeth marks where the mice had been eating it. I soaped myself all over and used dish detergent for my hair. My breast still had a yellow bruise on it like a hand, and my ankle had gone black. I caught sight of myself in a little mirror hanging on the wall: a pale, skinny ghost with hollows for eyes.

I trickled a pot of warm water over my head and then another. It felt lovely...

And then I heard a noise.

Heavy footsteps crashed up to the door, like someone in an awful hurry. I grabbed my dirty T-shirt and wrapped it around me and crouched down in the dishpan. My back was to the door and I was too petrified to turn around.

They found me.

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