A crumpled bag of broken pearls, she lies on the dark, thick rug. A mahogany canopy, the oval table half looms over her little curved body.
It is a warm summer evening and outside there are tweets of laugher, ripples of a trumpet and the occasional screech of drunk party girl impersonating a barn owl at twilight.
The carpet is made up of a vertical pattern of black, silver and emerald green cuboids. They dance out from her eyes, rise up like miniature Chrysler buildings and make silver tramlines which expand from here to the sea shore at Nice. This odd shape of a blurred martini glass keeps suicide watch by the leg of the table and a brief thought of a cat walking by flutters into her head and then out again.
Decorated in a glitzy column of a white chiffon dress which tickles her calves, her ungainly feet are displayed in their dirty leather boxes. Her left hand touches her forehead as though it will bang all that is inside back into place and the right hand reaches towards the long string of pearls dangling from her neck. Counting the beads, her nails make tiny knocking noises; her own pretty, flirty fingers re-enacting the movements of the gnarly hands of nuns.
With a great heave of the earth, her right foot moves back from across the left and takes a gentle thud to the floor. There is this horrible smell coming from the rug, from walked-in tobacco and the footprints of pets. Among these ashes she doesn’t feel too bad.
‘It is them,’ she thinks ‘that are so odd to stay out on the lawn when they could be lying under tables.’
The trickle of voices is getting more foggy and the screeching of owls comes less frequently. Two tiny breaths in and a little contraction of the gin shrink wrap around her frontal lobes, then a little cloggy feeling of sick somewhere at the back of the throat. She thinks more of cats, of being a cat and – breathe – falls into the slumber.