Snow-Woman [Extract]

They let me take her home at Christmas, they showed me everything I'd got to do for her. I went round the shops, and I got a special tree, the biggest I could find, the biggest Livvie ever seen in all her little life, and I put it close to her bed which I made up for her, on the sofa. She only took a bit of the space, like she was lost in it, like she was lost in all the great cruel bigness of the world.

There wasn't no snow Christmas Day, it was nice weather really. Livvie lay on the sofa, with the sun slipping into the room first thing, moving across like it was looking for her almost, trying to give her a bit of warmth, and she opened all her presents I'd got for her. There wasn't any others. It was just her and me together, the way it always was.

She read her penguin story and played with her toys, and we watched a programme with some nice carols which we sang along best we could, then I got her favourite food, chips and ketchup, they said she could have anything she fancied. She couldn't eat many of the chips, but she had a lot of ketchup. I gave her a spoon for it, she still got it smeared round her white little face, so she was all white and red, Christmassy in a kind of way. In the evening, when we said Goodnight, and I kissed her to bits, tucking her round, she whispered: “This is a nice Christmas, thank-you Mummy,” so sweet and brave, and I thought about her poor little life then, which I've given her.

She's only five. I was going to give her a better life than me, but looking at it I couldn't have been more wrong.

I don't know what'll happen after, I can't think, like I'm frozen up. I'll be 21 next year, key of the door, only I can't see any door, and I never noticed no keys.

They said it would get colder soon, by the New Year, could be a lot of snow.

From November Wedding