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After The Dance

     She had spent so much money on that dress. It took weeks to save up for it but, from the moment she saw it in the shop window she knew she had to have it. The earrings were her granny’s,  the only decent jewellery she owned.  Her strappy sandals didn’t match the handbag but nevertheless for the first time ever she felt beautiful.

     The room was packed and the music ramped up to full volume. No wonder the local council had insisted that the disco could only be licensed if it was built on the waste ground, well away from the residential part of the town. She hadn’t been able to afford a taxi, but the walk seemed easy, even in heels, and she had covered the distance in no time.

     The flashing lights in the darkened room made it hard to see at first, but then she saw the tall figure across the room. Tonight he would surely notice her.

     She pushed through the throng by the bar and bought herself a beer. She kept the bottle top firmly covered with her thumb. She didn’t want to risk having her drink spiked. If she put it down to dance she would buy another rather than return to the unfinished one. She had been well drilled in keeping safe by parents and friends who knew the potential dangers faced by innocent youngsters.

     As she moved between the dancing bodies she was aware that she was drawing attention. Both boys and girls briefly paused in their gyrations and for once she felt that their glances were admiring rather than the scornful disdain she was used to.

     A familiar figure appeared at her side and he lent in towards her, shouting to make himself heard over the din.

“I  can’t believe it’s you! You look stunning.”

     He put an arm across her shoulders and drew her close. She felt her heartbeat speed up as she abandoned her drink and let herself be steered towards a space where they could merge into the sea of dancers. The beat of the music seemed to mesh with the beating of their hearts.

     The evening flew past and they grew ever closer until his arms were firmly wrapped around her and she felt the sweetness of his lips against hers. He led her towards the exit and took her hand as they stepped outside into the warm, dark night.

     She began to fumble in her handbag. ” I have to call my Dad. I’m not allowed to walk home alone.”

      He laughed softly and kissed her again.  “You’re not alone.”

    When he was done with her the beautiful dress was crumpled and torn. Her throat was sore from screaming and her face and arms were covered in bruises. He left her, slumped and bleeding, against a pile of black bin bags. She felt as though she too was discarded rubbish, spoilt and dirty, fit only for the dump.

     Painfully she groped around and found her bag. Her purse and phone were gone. She managed to find the sandals that had been torn from her feet as she struggled against him. As the first light of dawn began to illuminate the sky she set off on the long walk, back to the slum that she called home.

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