Amanda and I are in a very loud bar. Everything she's saying is being drowned out by early 90s house music.
I am wearing a red lace catsuit with silver platform shoes. Amanda is wearing a green latex corset over a green net tutu and green striped tights with green boots. Earlier she informed me she was drinking only absinthe tonight, but we can't find anywhere which serves absinthe so she is substituting with shots of Apple Sourz.
"Ferny herbivore duvet!" shouts Amanda. She is grinning like a lunatic.
"Yes!" I shout.
"Soliciting android anal-beads sambuca?" She gestures towards the bar. The last word sounds like bad news.
"Maybe not a good idea," I say, cautiously.
"Okay, wait here by the circus!" She heads off towards the bar brandishing £20, and I resign myself to being hungover tomorrow. I look round and see that I am, in fact, standing by a large poster showing a 1920s circus scene.
I'm not entirely sure what I'm doing here. I have somehow managed to misjudge my drinking, and even through the fog of alcohol I'm annoyed with myself. I don't often get to the point where I have trouble standing up. I'm there now, and this is the point at which drinking stops being fun. I am dreading Amanda coming back and making me do a shot of sambuca. I want water, and lots of it.
But Amanda thinks I said yes, so she might be offended if she buys me a shot and I don't drink it. Bugger.
Maybe I could spill it. If I stand a little further out on the dancefloor, I could dance around a bit and then accidentally spill it on the floor. Not a bad idea.
At that moment I look round and see a short bald man standing next to me staring at me intently.
"Hi!" he says.
"Hello," he says. "I'm a happily married man."
"Good for you," I say, scanning the bar for Amanda.
"I'm Tyler Alligatorfloss," he says. Damn this music.
"Alice Chambers," I say, and we shake hands.
"I'm a happily married man," he says.
"Why do you keep saying that?" I ask. "I'm not trying to come on to you."
"What's my name?" he bellows.
"I didn't think you were that drunk, dude."
"What's my name?"
"Uh...Tyler Alligatorfloss," I say. Apparently this sounds enough like his real name to be convincing. He smiles and nods at me.
"Add me on Facebook," he says.
"Why?" I say. "You're a happily married man."
"I'm a happily married man," he says, attempting to stare deeply into my eyes. He can't focus, and neither can I, so it isn't working.
"Fuck this conversation," I say.
"Gotta go, bye!" I say and head off in the direction of the loo. It's quieter outside in the corridor and I take a moment to lean against the wall and sulk about my life. 36 years old, in a job I hate, overly drunk in a loud bar being chatted up by happily married men called Tyler Alligatorfloss.
"It shouldn't be like this," I opine, drunkenly, to the corridor.
"How should it be then?"
Chris is standing next to me, leaning against the wall. His blonde hair has grown out; it's all dark again, and I have to say it suits him.
"Better," I say. "More fun."
"You're not having fun?"
"Not really. I was earlier, but I'm not now."
"Don't you ever think you're a bit old for clothes and bars like this?" he says. "Most mid-thirties women have grown up. Settled down."
This is exactly what I was just thinking.
"Yes," I say. "I do think that sometimes."
"I mean, it's a bit undignified when you're starting to go grey." He pauses. "I'm here with Jena tonight."
I am drunk enough to be rude. "Okay, no need to clobber me over the head with subtext," I say. "Jena's younger than me, and therefore has more value on the open market. I get it."
Chris looks at me. His eyes narrow. He leans in and whispers: "You don't get it. You dumped me, you skinny old bitch. You dumped me by text. How fucking dare you? Who do you think you are?"
I sober up instantly. It's funny how quickly that can happen. I can feel the stubble on his chin against my cheek as the alcohol drains out of my body. It feels as if it has been replaced by ice. I'm shivering.
He smiles. Turns. Walks away back into the bar.
I stand in the corridor. I don't move. I don't move a muscle. Out of the three fear responses - fight, flight and freeze - my natural inclination is to deploy the least useful. I stare at the floor and wait for the situation to change. Some time later, I can't tell how long, it does.
"I've been looking everywhere for you," Amanda says. "I had a shot for you. But I couldn't find you and then it went in my mouth."