Carolyn stepped out into the street and headed for the bus. She was the brightest thing in the neighbourhood in her neat orange dress, white belt and shoes. Suburban blue-grey; standard issue for conformity, was the norm. She was meeting Dave at seven — hoped he wouldn’t be late. She pulled her arms tight around her stomach. It wasn’t chilly.
The man ahead in the queue wore grimy jeans; smelt of body odour. He offered her a roll-up. She shook her head. He lit one himself, dragged on it, coughed phlegm, spat, picked loose tobacco off his tongue and eyed her. The fat woman behind, offered a dirty look. The bus drew up. The cigarette was discarded still burning into the gutter.
The bus smelt of stale wet coats of earlier shoppers. The seats were stained with gum and chocolate. Now was between times. Nearly empty, it rattled towards the city centre. Catching her reflection as they went through the underpass, Carolyn realized she’d forgotten to brush her hair. She messed it up a bit more and removed a smudge of lipstick from the corner of her mouth. She got off the bus near the mall. The man in jeans got off too. He headed for the Big Screen Bar and she made her way to Le Club.
“Usual?” said the barman.
Perched on a high stool, Carolyn adjusted her skirt downwards to cover her thighs. She only had to cross the street to the usual place. She put money on the bar, sank back the first shot quickly and chased it with a second.
“Nah,” said the barman, pushing the money back towards her. “Why don’t you get a bite?”
“Cheers, Jinx.” Carolyn smiled her perfect smile, slipped from the bar stool and crossed the road to the corner of Pink Street.
There was almost half a pizza right at the top of the bin. She ducked into a doorway with it not to be seen, shivered and took a mouthful.
Business might be slow tonight. She suspected it was going to rain. In the city dusk her dress would blend perfectly with the orange reflections of streetlamps in the gutter.
Oonah V Joslin lives in Northumberland, England. Winner of Micro Horror Prizes 2007 and 2008. Most read in EDF, Jan 2008. Guest judge in the Shine Journal 2008 Poetry Competition. Bewildering Stories Quarterly 4 2007 and 1 and 2 in 2008. She has had work published in Bewildering Stories, Twisted Tongue, Static Movement, 13 Human Souls, Back Hand Stories and The Pygmygiant, Lit Bits, The Linnet’s Wings, The Ranfurly Review and Boston Literary Magazine. The list is growing every month which pleases her immensely! Oonah is also Managing Editor of Every Day Poets. You can link to work, follow up-dates and contact Oonah at http://www.writewords.org.uk/oonah/ or http://www.oonahs.blogspot.com. She thanks all of you who take the time to read and comment.