Deaf Ears and Sudden Assumption 

The wall is flooded with orange light. So hard that it forces the bricks back a millimetre or two; and it renders passing figures from the plunging shadows fleetingly two dimensional; and it dazzles them. 

Or it would have done, had they paused.

Drunken and hurrying in zigzags. 

Except one. And in the obliterating light her hair might be any colour.

Except red. If the orange light were to strike anything red (or, god forbid, actually orange), the object in question would ignite, dazzling the zigzaggers in the streets around Seven Dials into prone submission. 

And one of them suddenly bumps into her, and they spin together.

Hands on the other’s arms to steady themselves. 

“Watch out darling,” she says to ears still ringing with trance beats.

And had he refused the last four drinks he would have dwelt on that word: “darling.” It would have confirmed to him her position in the throws of kindly middle age.
Something about the tone. 

And he would have looked at her face and figure as hard as was politely possible. And the evidence of his eyes, her smooth skin, glossy hair and athletic figure, would have failed the test of sudden assumption. 

And she’d be middle aged and young at the same time. 

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Leaving so early?

Lena’s boyfriend has stayed at home all day. His one day off this week and he stayed in bed until 3pm, before finally dragging himself up. Asked if he had even bothered to look for a new flat, he became irritable and retreated to the bedroom again.

But now, with the flat full of friends, music playing, each glass of wine is dimming Lena’s irritation.

By 9 o’clock he’s forgiven, by 10 o’clock the argument is forgotten, and an hour later he has even recovered some of the attraction that has dimmed these past few months.

There are more bodies in the flat than she knows what to do with, half from the coffee shop, half from God knows where.

Valentina’s attempts on Marios have been shrugged off.

Tia’s artist friend has turned up. What was his name? Felix? Something like that. He’s the only English guy here.

A few more songs from Rob’s playlist, Lena opens another bottle, looks up just in time to see Valentina leave.

So early?

She glances back towards the front door and sees Felix walking out swiftly, leaving it ajar.