It was in that moment she just knew.
Their eyes met across the smoke tinged bar and she blinked hard trying to stop his face blurring as the acrid scent of alcohol, sweat and the gents stung her eyes. She watched his callous face swim in her vision and imagined herself touching him, stroking him, holding him as she once had. Then the crowds surged and his face was lost in a sea of slurring bodies, desperate for toxins to complete the tortured travesty of their lives.
She turned, walking towards the scarred and swollen door, keeping the strangers out and the occupants in. The oblique and only portal of the bar, framed by a sweat-greased lintel bearing an equally soiled solitary tankard. A swift jerk on the creaking handle edged the door inward enough to let her slide out into the frosty night air. Her breath froze in an instant as she let out the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding and she felt her shoulders sag as tense muscles finally relaxed. Standing there for a moment she closed her eyes and looked round the deserted street, seeing only the reflection of the moon on the iced pavement and the flutter of leaves and discarded papers on the slick road. She felt alone, isolated, for a moment bereft and turned her head slightly back towards the fetid bar. To company, to familiarity, to where she’d once been.
“Oi, shut the door love, it’s fucking freezing out there!” a voice shouted from the depths of the bar, followed by jeering laughter and the odd whistle.
“Dozy bitch, what the fuck is she doing?”
“Maybe she figured she’d need someone to warm her back up when she comes in”
“Naa, birds like that don’t think!”
She thrust her arm behind her without turning towards the howls of laughter and grasped the icy handle pulling with everything she had at the door, dragging furrows in the floorboards as it resisted the unusual treatment and screeched towards its housing. With a final lurch, she stumbled forwards and slammed the door with an echoing crack that broke the night air like a rifle shot and then she stood, breathing hard, listening to the remnants of her life before sit in dumb disbelief as the single glass on the shelf rolled gently back and forth in the aftermath of the quake only to roll softly off the edge and shatter into greasy shards on the floor.
She straightened and pulled up her hood, shoving her hands deep in her pockets and turning to walk resolutely back down the shining, glacial street. As the shouting started she let go of her breath and smiled.