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12 August 2013

Dolly (aka, Bones' version of the Little Match Girl)

She's small, a crone in reverse. Hunger has thinned her cheeks too early. Her eyes shine through, bits of burnished gold in her red-dirt face. She blends in, almost, with the stone wall standing beside her. The recess of the church doors sheltered her from the wind, but she was already covered in the dust it carried, and the crowds of people were too far away. Their gloved hands hold light cloaks around their faces, their eyes clench tight and downward and their legs swing fast; wind and dust herd them homeward.
The little girl clutches a scrap of fabric and long-gone stuffing.
"Don't worry Dolly, you know I'll always love you. I wouldn't do this if I didn't have to. I'll buy you back someday, when I make it big. Everything will be alright. Everything will be ok. You be good now." The words echo like tumbling stones in her skull. Take them apart, and they'd make no sense, but she knows they mean Good Bye. Her eyes strain against the swell and she crumples back into the recess. Her shoulder against the faded red doors, she balls up her body and shoves her fists against her eyes.

Thick, crusted dust doesn't want to let her eyelashes part when she wakes. She tips her face forward, carefully grooming her eyes til they can open without dirt falling in. The wind has stopped. The streetlights are on. She can see this, but can't think it. Her hand reaches across her body to touch the door - Locked. A flicker of an expression passes beneath the grime - she knows all about Locked Doors. Her hand drops and her body shivers. Her face stares into the dark, into the wind that isn't blowing anymore.

Faces laugh in the dust, swirling around the grand table - wasn't that always there? - so much food - she'd never seen the like... laughter howls between meals - cheering is ludicrous but they do it anyway - is that your family? - 

A sound - far away - tickles something inside her - no! Don't go! I want to -
"Sugar can you hear me? What're you doin' here? Ain't nobody in there. You hear me child?"
- it gets closer, louder - it's the sound of a gloved hand on her shoulder -
"Where's your Mama, Sugar?"
- Mama - Everything will be ok. You be good now... You better listen when I'm talkin' to you!
Thin shoulders jump and her body cries out - 
"Oh child, I didn't mean to give you a fright! Where do you live, Honey? I can walk you home. Ain't right, a child out here alone, and you sick-looking like that. Where's your home at? We'll get you there and everything will be alright."
Her startled eyes take in the strange adult - a woman, a painted women, a woman who looked nothing like her Mama, but seemed to have all Mama's words wrapped up inside her. 
"Well, child? Where d'you live at?"
Expectant eyes bore into her; her own frail eyes break their dam and tears make ruddy streaks down to her chin. 
"Oh, oh Honey, I'm sorry. It's ok. It's ok, don't cry Honey, I'll take you to - well, I'll take you somewhere safe. Will that be ok? Come'on, let's get you somewhere safe. Come'on." Moving quickly, the woman gathers the stunned girl into her arms and strides away from the church as though she carried nothing more than a mouse.

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