The girls’ bathroom was so cold! The open window next to the squat loo stalls was flung wide open for fresh air and the cold water taps were  even more finger numbing than usual. The sink countertop felt like ice.

Sparkle Yan shivered and took a furtive drag on her cigarette.  Her classmate, Echo Mu, stared out the open window, defeated and numb. Neither of them wanted to go back to class- another 45 minutes in a giant ice box, sitting on hard rows of benches, listening to the lecturer drone on into a distortion-prone headset microphone about accounting, whilst trying to not let their legs and fingers go numb.

Echo wanted to be a dancer. A belly dancer! Her parents wanted her to be an accountant though.

It was the same with Sparkle’s family. They didn’t care that she had her heart set on being a Buddhist nun. She would do the book keeping for the family’s bra clasp factory in Wenzhou after graduation. Her parents were incredibly proud of the fact that the Yan Family Bra Clasp Manufacturing Company (Ltd) was the world leader in bra fastening parts. It would be Sparkle’s duty to work for them. Buddhist nuns couldn’t exactly support the family business.

Mind you, she realized, she’d probably have to stop smoking if she did join the nunnery.

She adjusted her freezing bum on the sink counter top, took one last drag from her cigarette and tossed it out the window.

Accounting it would be then.

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