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NightLife

Piccadilly Circus, Winter

Photo by Alexander Popov on Unsplash

Like ice running down the back of my leg, dressed in fishnets and a leather skirt, rain pours down. All that time spent curling hair and beating faces on, wasted. We shiver together, clutching each other and bitching about the rain. We didn't pack jackets. It's two pounds to check your coat, and no one wants to stand in that line. Instead, the boys give us theirs, hoping to gain some favor for a chat. I don't have one, but they all did. I'm too old for this kind of thing: spinster, though that word is too outdated for this crowd. I'm just old.

Heat, unbearable lamps under awnings with no regard for moderation. It's bliss compared to the rain but only makes the shoes more uncomfortable. The sweat sticks to the cushions inside my heels, too high to run away and not tall enough to be called a slut. I love these shoes. I painted my toenails to match my dress, not that anyone will ever see them. It matches my eye makeup, melted down my face, dripping like some kind of painting I saw at the Tate. Beautiful, sweating, melted, mess.

The girl in front of us is nervous, pulling down at her crotch and the back of her skirt. She probably has drugs in her vagina, probably on a dose before she climbed into the queue. Her eyes droop, red, but not smeared like us. I saw her get out of a cab, pulled out of a cab, and captivated by that boy in the other line. They separate them now: girls line and boys line. And always, the boys' line goes faster. Like they don't trust that the girl in front with the tampons isn't smuggling mandy into the club. They're right, of course. My friend learned how to reseal her Tampax Pearls with a hair straightener.

But the lights blind us from all the suffering. The DJ knows her shit, silently telling us how sexy we look. Sultry. So very seductive. Slide onto the dance floor, up against that lovely body. Shake what your momma gave you. Swirl your tongue if you like it. Salivate at the buffet of beauty before you. Send a look his way. Sweat against skin, glistening in colors; it's not my sweat on me. It's yours, and his, and hers, and theirs. We can't separate ourselves if we tried. Not there, dancing with drinks in our hands. Spiked. Surreal flashes in hues and tones. Sometimes, we swear we can see the music.

Smoke break. Air. Quiet. Whisper into someone's ear where I'm going, ask if they want to come along. One of the boys comes along, protecting us or something, making sure the creeps stay away. It's so cold on that roof, even under the tents and next to heaters. The swelter of the dance floor always makes the outside icy. I light a B&H, droplets of rain clinging to the dry paper, and breathe. Balance out the alcohol, the drugs, the high. Come down easy, watch all the guys trying to chat up girls. Watch all the girls play with the boys. Watch how power slides from one gender to the other. Watch those people who make out in public and grope and finger and wish that it was you. It was you, once, maybe, a long time ago. I really am too old for this shit. Stay for a second cigarette. A third. Maybe half the new pack. This guy is interesting, trying to give off the bad boy vibe even though he's obviously insecure. He likes my accent. Trying to bang my friend, and our escort never pushes him away. Not once. So much for safety.

Peeing is a joint effort. All the girls go together, at once, loudly. Can you believe him? Oh, I'm gonna cut a bitch! Fuck, my makeup is running. Shit, my feet hurt. You're so beautiful! He touched my hair! He touched my ass! Fuck men, I should just be a lesbian. Aw, I gotta vom. Can you pass me a toilet roll? A tampon? Some coke? Where is the hand dryer? That one is out of soap. JESUS, Carol, close the fecking door when you shit! Hold my drink, I gotta wash my hands. Oh crap, she's crying… Again.

A booth opens up, and the shoes come off. The boys stand around, quietly looking on. What do they want? I always wondered. They look bored, but never say a thing. All the girls curse and gripe about their feet at the end. Do they think anyone wants to fuck with blistering feet? You did. Once. But you're old now, and the only number anyone is giving you is for a taxi. Maybe that's what we wanted, then. That, and a kebab, fried chicken, and coke. 

But the night isn't over. I've got to vomit one more time. Maybe then my feet will stop hurting, and my stomach will stop aching, and the boys will think I'm skinny, and we can stay a little longer, and I can smoke some more cigarettes, and take another pill, and drink some more Sambuca, and kiss sweaty, sultry lips younger than mine.

And be treated like a princess, when he gives me his coat for the cold, and holds my shoes, and gets into the cab with me.

And fucks me into the mattress.

And somehow, stays for breakfast in the morning.

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