Today's listening - "Le Nocturne De Lumiere" by BT.
The child pointed upwards at the heavily illuminated ceiling full of Christmas lights.
Her mother was far too consumed by the clothing rail in front of her to acknowledge this small moment of wonder in her child's life. Lifting another garment from the rack, she perused it - running her right hand down the side of the dress slowly and tenderly from shoulder to hemline. Shifting her hips and switching the dress from left to right to gain another vantage point, the light changed with the angle. Again the slow stroke down the line of the dress - and a shake to flick out the crumple from the rail. Her daughter twisted in her buggy, and gasped with a little exasperation. Thrust her hips upwards. A movement that half suggested a half thought, of half freedom. A dash for the wire. If I go now, she won't notice. The thought seemed to dissipate as quickly as it came however, as another Stepford mother and buggy combo slid in the shop entrance beside her. As if tapped on the cheek, the little girl shouldered herself round to look at her new distraction. A little boy of about the same age, a bunch of brown curls tucked under a Baby Gap beanie. There was no exchange, other than a swapping of vacant thousand yarders which seemed to say Your mum shopping too then? We could be here a while you know - do you have sweets? She pointed up at the lights again, looking at him.
He wasn't interested.
Her mother was a short slim woman, raven black dyed hair scraped back into an Essex facelift, snub nosed and square jawed. She wanted to be younger than she was. Her palour was cold and malnourished, coffee and cigarettes having sucked all colour inwards. The tracksuit was unseasonal for the time of year, an off white tone that suggested her washes were not hot enough. The caressing of the dress continued, with a quizzical look. Can I afford it? Will it suit me? WHY can't I afford it?
She would have looked awesome. A good conditioner, some make up to hide the tiny red pocks around the nub of her chin, a hearty meal. Her daughter winged, and as a knee jerk her lips pursed into a sssshhhhhhh.
With a look of resignment, she hooked the dress from the rail, placed it lovingly over her arm and grasped the horns of the buggy. Twisting towards the till, her daughter looked surprised at the sudden movement. We going then?
Small moments later, they smoothed out of the shop, purchase hanging on the handle of the buggy. The little girl looked excited, and pointed up at the lights again.
I know, pretty aren't they?
Mum looked left, but turned right. As her head swept round she caught my gaze. I smiled a pathetic unthoughtful smile, more on the inside than on the out, but enough for her to notice. She cast me a look that was as icy as a bell ringing. I looked down at her waist. It was tiny and snake-like. Soon lost in the haze of movement, they disappeared.
She will soon be at a party, wearing her dress. She will dance, and she will laugh. She will drink too much, but she will be happy. She will be sitting at the end of the night on a chair or a doorstep, unable to move - pointing up at the Christmas lights in an awestruck gesture, and no one will acknowledge her.
But, that doesn't matter.
I stood up, and blinked to clear my eyes.