Her work done, she stumbled home. She caught her bare toe on a rock as she entered the dim shack. The old black tarpaulin slapped against her as it fell back in to place.
For a second her eyes struggled to accommodate the gloom. Then she saw her grandfather crouched as ever on the shack’s only bed in the corner. He grimaced, and nodded at the whimpering child laying in the straw by his side.
Nodding back she shuffled towards him. He averted his eyes, looking down at the mud floor as she approached. She quickly handed him the burlap sack hanging by her side. Snatching it, he reached inside and pulled out a loaf of bread and a skin of wine. He quickly tipped the wine skin and let the bitter, tepid liquid trickle over his wizened lips. He smacked them with satisfaction and starting sucking on a lump of bread.
He grunted with pleasure. Looking down angrily at the still whimpering child he wet a lump of bread with a little wine and stuck it between the child’s chapped lips. The grandfather looked up at his granddaughter and inclined his head sharply in direction of the fire. Beside it stood an old half oil drum filled with murky water.
She slipped quickly out of her ragged clothes and stepped in to the drum, her feet breaking the scummy surface of the water. Her grandfather’s eyes followed her every movement as she lowered herself in up until her body was hidden to the shoulders.
Grabbing a nearby rag she plunged it in to the water and began scrubbing and scrubbing violently between her legs, as the tears trickled down her young face.