She walked the streets she knew so well, and knew to be cold. It was a clear November night, and everything shone with a wind blistered frost. There was a kind of beauty – even here – and for some reason she felt a connection to the place. It’s not that it was her town, but she felt really there for a while. Maybe for the first time.
That night she’d spent drinking, clearing glasses and being leered at by forty something year old blokes. She figured their wives were over at the other nightclub in town, doing the same to the teenage lads there. They seemed lonely, drunk and desperate. Either that or they really did think she was gorgeous and that it really was going to be a good time they were going to give her. Whichever, they let her have some of their rum and cokes (which sent her hyper) before moving on to some other thigh to stroke. She knew a lot of them from town. A few of them were dads of kids at school. They must have known her real age – or maybe they didn’t recognise her.
It didn’t take long for her to get drunk, and she half wondered if this was it. The money she got was pitiful, more than the nothing she had the day before, but it wasn’t going to get her out. She wondered if one day she’d give in to one of those men, and if one of those “good times” would lead to a few, and spread into dates at their place, and then –eventually, and without meaning to – she’d be stuck. She did wonder as she got her coat: was this it now?
And then the night – the frozen and beaten night with its drunks and heaving kebab shop and its stink of Saturday aftershave: past its best. The car windows had a hard frost on them. In a few hours the frost would be gone, the beauty would have melted and the dads from the nightclub would be washing themselves off. She would be curled up with a hangover and another day to face.