This month our writers group prompt was a picture of the 2006 tornado in Brighton.
“Shit, shit, shit!” Alice hopped on one foot as she stared in dismay at the dog faeces on her shoe. She looked round to see if she could wipe it off on anything.
Grabbing a twig, Alice carefully scrapped the worst off, then dragged her foot along the tiny patch of grass. She was trying not to cry. Straightening her bag, slung low across her body, she carried on her way, eyes now glued to the pavement. She slowly counted her breath in and then out again, trying to calm the fluttering and accelerating heart beat. Continuing, Alice rubbed her chest to ease the constricting pain, while taking any chance she could to surreptitiously wipe the offending foot along the pavement.
The roads were filling up now, with large groups of fuzzy haired men lurching together, their primal grunts and calls keeping them in loose formation, while their female counterparts wheeled like nervous ponies, all high-pitched neighs and clip-clop heels. Every so often the circles would overlap, creating a cacophony of squeals and grunts as elaborate mating dances would start.
Alice ignored them all, keeping her head down and as much distance as she could manage, within the narrow lanes. The bag had worked it’s way round to the front again, banging against her thigh and causing her skirt to bunch up. She was regretting her choice of outfit.
Pausing at the junction, Alice worried in hesitation. In her old neighbourhood, indecision marked you out as a target and old survival tactics were hard to bury. Swinging left, she was pretty sure that she was still heading in the right direction, but the narrow streets all looked similar. This one had beautiful people, spilling out of café’s onto the road, all laughing and looking like a Gap advert. Alice tugged at her skirt again and hid behind her hair a little more.
Finally the pub came into view. Alice pulled a crumpled piece of paper out of her pocket and double checked the details. The little hearts drawn instead of dots made her smile. They pretty much summed up Becky.
A bouncer watched disinterestedly as she paused, rubbing her sternum. Alice flashed him a weak smile, then dragged one foot in front of the other.
Before tripping slightly on the top step. The pub was packed and as she fought her way through, she thought she spotted her friend. Boy she could do with a drink right about now. Becky swung round, spotted Alice and started waving madly. Relief flooded through her as she elbowed her way through.
“Sorry; Coming through; Sorry”.
Engulfed in Becky’s hug, peering through her ruffled hair and over Becky’s shoulder, she could just make out a strong, male arm close to her face, the owner of which was side on to them and angled slightly away. It was the tattoo, a celtic, black fluid design flowing out the end of a navy tee shirt, that drew her eye and made her wonder what the rest of it looked like. Her fingers itched to trace the pattern, but before she could reach out, she was released from the hug. Becky held her outstretched, the mouth all smiles and moving. Shit, she was talking! What was she saying? Alice smiled weakly and nodded. Becky spun round, pulling Alice in beside her, arm round her shoulder.
“So everyone – this is Alice, she’s new to Brighton, so be nice to her! Alice this is everyone!”
Becky’s free arm swept with flare round the small semi circle of people, crushed together in the packed pub, a mix of people all smiling back at her before moving back to their conversations. All that was except tattoo boy. His dark brown eyes, held hers and he ducked his head closer to her ear.
“Hi, I’m Harry. So you’re new to the area?”
Alice could hardly breathe, just stare into his eyes and beg her brain to come up with something interesting. She nodded.
“I’m just going to grab a drink.”
She gestured at the bar, in case he had missed that they were, in fact, in a pub. He smiled as she turned and fled.
“Shit , shit, shit!”
Why wasn’t she beautiful and witty and clever. At least she was small and ducked under a couple of shoulders, slipping with relative ease to the front. Eventually a neon-pink haired woman come to serve her.
“Double vodka and a pint of ummm, I’ll try the Dandelion beer.”
With the minimum amount of movement the two appeared before her and the change returned. Alice downed the vodka and headed back to the group. Her stomach was now rumbling in protest at the neat vodka and her general fear. Alice hovered next to Becky, shifting her weight from one foot to the other, sipping her beer and trying to follow the conversation.
“So you came back?!”
Harry had reappeared at her shoulder. Now she noticed the slightly lighter flecks of deep amber in the dark brown. Would tigers have eyes like this? The smile definitely was all teeth….
Her brain obviously having given up on anything over one syllable. He laughed.
“Well I guess I deserved that, it was a stupid question.”
Alice ducked her head, a curtain of hair falling forward to try and hide the smile and scorching cheeks. Casually Harry scooped up a lock of her hair
“Are you laughing at me?”
He checked her face carefully, as he took his time looping the strand behind her ear. Alice let out a giggle and smoothed her hair, more to try and shoo his hand from her head where it was causing synapses to short circuit. The vodka and strong beer on an empty stomach were definitely causing her to feel brave.
She tipped her chin up, looking at him thoughtfully.
Now where had all her beer gone? God had she just downed it?! Harry thoughtfully removed the glass from her hand, leaving her without something to hold in front of her, leaving her only her skirt to tug at. He leaned forward, his mouth inches from her exposed ear, as she inhaled his aftershave.
“Fancy getting out of here, it’s a bit rammed for my liking…Maybe I could show you around”
“HARRY! You’re not trying to steal my friend are you?! Now Alice, I should have warned you about Harry, we call him the Tornado because the way he whirls his way through the whole of the Brighton female population, picking them up and spitting them out. He especially likes fresh meat, don’t you Harry?!”
Harry grinned sheepishly, but his eyes were still fixed on Alice, weighing her reaction. Alice laughed too.
“They used to call me Tornado as well, because I’m so accident prone, I’m my own disaster area!”
“Oh no! Is Brighton big enough for two forces of nature?!”
“Can anyone else smell dog shit?”