Afterwards she cuddled up to me a little and asked me if I wanted anything else. Funnily enough, what I wanted most then was a cup of tea. I wanted to ask her for one, and to watch her getting up and making it for me, like a good girl, a girl of good family. Like Effie, or one of the White girls in the old days. I knew she wouldn’t understand, though, and so I didn’t say anything at all. I just started to put my clothes on. She helped me with the boots, then started to pull on her own clothes. I wanted to kiss her, but I didn’t dare. Funny, really, when you think that I’d just fucked her, but somehow that seemed less intimate than treating her as a person, a real girl, now, afterwards.

I just walked out of there, then got pissy drunk in a bar by the river.

I suppose it was thinking of the snow that did it – her body was very white, I remember, which made the long scar stand out that much better. God, it must have hurt! Though maybe not: a scar that deep might have a temporary anaesthetic effect. The blood would pump out, but you might just feel a pleasant warmth from it – a kind of narcolepsy, just as we all thought sleeping in the snow would create.

It’s bad thinking about girls. I got a stiffy right away, and even though no-one can see it in these baggy furs it makes you crazy. I could feel myself licking her along her scar, tongue touching every inch of it. Why didn’t I do that then? I could have talked to her more – told her to do any number of things I can think of now. She was a pretty girl, not that it matters. Not pretty like the girls at home, but like a sleek little animal, furry and dark as an otter. She would have done anything for a few more coins. She might even have liked it, to be able to stay in bed instead of going out on the cold street again. Perhaps she ended up with some sailor who belted her arse for her – or some paterfamilias who buggered her while dreaming of his own daughters. She would have been better off with me. I wouldn’t have done anything to hurt her.

I’m certain I could never have whipped her, but now I find I’m thinking of her when I strike the dogs, wondering what kind of a whip had been used on her. On consideration, I think it probably was a knife – like those long gutting knives we use on the seals. Not so long and sharp, of course, or else all her guts would have fallen out on the table and would have had to be stuffed back inside before she could be sewn up.

That was the thing, of course. I can see it now, more real than the wind-flurries, the solid ice visible only a few yards ahead. There were no stitch marks

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