5:30

5:30

In the other room Caroline’s cellphone began to ring. She paused in her scrubbings for just a moment, then bent her head and renewed her efforts with even more vigour.

The phone buzzed insistently, but she continued to ignore it. “Why the fuck did I ever agree to this? What was I thinking?” she muttered almost incoherently. In her ears the sound of the phone seemed to grow louder and louder, but she focused on the sound of the water and the sharpness of the cleansing pain as she worked the rough stone over her violently red hands. “This isn’t right. Dirty animals. This just isn’t right!” she spat out, trying to drown out the insistent noise of the phone.

“I have no time for you!” she screamed at last and the phone fell silent. “I have no time for you,” she repeated in a soft whimpering tone. “I have no time.” She slowly stopped scrubbing her now bleeding hands and watched the blood and water mix into a pink foam as it poured down the drain in front of her.

Caroline looked up into the bathroom mirror and her face started to collapse. Tears slowly leaked from her eyes although she knew she wasn’t crying. She didn’t cry; she hadn’t since she had left home. The mixture of fear and rage that had fueled her since she left the park was gone and all that was left was pain. And right now, right at this moment, pain was not enough.

“Not fair,” she told the mirror as she slowly slipped down to the bathroom floor. “Not fair.”