Katy stood still and looked inside. Her gaze was drawn to a string of orange fairy lights draped around a large metal mirror. They gave off a cheery glow that made her feel as if she were about to enter Father Christmas’s grotto.
‘Ten seconds, then I’m closing the door. Ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two…’ Katy stepped inside.
‘Are you hungry?’
‘I’ve got soup?’
Katy pulled a face. ‘Don’t like tomato.’
‘Really, well that’s all I’ve got.’
‘Is it out of a tin or packet?’
‘Tin. Want some or not?’
Katy nodded her head and followed him into the kitchen. It was small and smelled of bleach. She scratched her nose and saw a streak of dirt on her fingers. She looked down at her muddy dress and said, ‘Mister? Can I wash my hands?’
‘Looks like you need more than your hands washing. Call me John. The bathroom is through there. First on the left. Watch out for Gladdy, she’s eating in the corridor.’ Katy walked up three concrete steps and paused to watch Gladiator wolf down her dog food. She lifted the latch, stepped inside the bathroom, closed the door and pushed the bolt across. John knocked and Katy put her ear against the wood.
‘Why don’t you have a shower? I’ve got a granddaughter about your age. I’m sure I can dig out some clean clothes for you.’
Katy touched her tattered dress and said, ‘Okay, thanks.’ She turned on the shower, peeled off her dirty clothes and washed away the muck and blood that clung to her body and hair. She stood under the hot water until her skin went red. Waiting to feel clean.
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