By Cathrin Hagey
Copyright 2011 Cathrin Hagey
Cover Design by Cathrin Hagey
Doll Face by tbd/iStockphoto, aqua-blue by baltasarr/iStockphoto
Author's Note: This story was previously published in New Fairy Tales, Issue Six, with original illustrations by Daria Hlazatova
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Nettie was a fair girl underneath the grease-slicked soil of her outer skin. Her hair, if washed, would have shone like the autumn moon. Her skin, if caressed, would have glowed like hot coals beneath a blanket of snow. Nettie lived with a foul-smelling, toothless man called Uncle. Whether or not he truly was her uncle was not important because he was the only caregiver Nettie had ever known. Uncle sent Nettie out collecting every day. If Nettie returned with sellable wares she ate a crust of bread or a hard biscuit and was allowed to sleep in peace. If she did not return with sellable wares Nettie was sent to forage and sleep in the alley, where restless men and beyond-all-hope women roamed, none of whom appeared to ever require a good night's rest.