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Vesna Pivcevic, 16 Jun '15

Leftover Girl

I saw her on the Euston Road on my way to King’s Cross station. The morning sunshine felt warm on my back and my cheap sandals slapped the pavement as I marched forward, the smell of last night’s leftover kebabs, rotting rubbish and stale piss stinging my nose. She was lying in front of Kentucky Fried Chicken, the patch favoured by the pimps and dealers at night time, commuters weaving around her as if she was nothing but an unsavoury bit of rubbish. As I got closer I could see she was in the grip of addiction or madness or both, arching her long porcelain neck with bulging blue veins towards the sun, wearing nothing but a threadbare black swim-suit and a pair of filthy black ankle boots. I felt a combination of gaping fascination and horror, wanting to stare at her but scared of treating her like a freak. She can’t have been far out of her teens and from a distance looked like a beauty but as I got closer I could see paper-thin skin stretched to splitting point over the contours of her skull, her sunken eyes rolled back in some private ecstasy, her soul sucked out of her. She supported herself on her matchstick arms sticking her bony legs out as if she was sunbathing, her whole body twitching with involuntary spasms. I wanted to save her but didn’t know how so I walked guiltily on with everyone else.