The fingers of her right hand, the one closest to me, sported three obnoxiously big rings, all of them gold. One by one, she kept twirling them around. Age-wise, I estimated her between thirty-five and forty-five. Her skin stretched a bit too tautly around her temples so I guessed she’d had some work done, but not to the point where it looked completely unnatural.
What drew me in most was that big shock of ginger hair. It stretched out beyond her frail frame, reaching out to the world around her, contrasting her self-sufficient body language.
Nevertheless, I walked in and ordered a glass of champagne. I picked a stool two seats down from her, just at the curve of the bar, so it looked as if I had no choice but to glance at her. She kept gazing ahead, as if all the answers to her prayers were to be found in those empty glasses. By the time I finished half my drink, I still might as well not have been there. She hadn’t acknowledged my presence once, despite the two of us being the only patrons.
I had plenty of time to study her, though.
She drank champagne as if it was the least celebratory drink on the planet, exuding a sort of world-weariness that can only come from having too much of everything. Or not having anything left to dream of.
The bar was an open circle in the centre of the shopping mall, cordoned off by deep-red velvet strings bleeding from the ceiling—like a shredded curtain put up more for effect than privacy. She held court in the middle of it all, the ennui on obvious display on her face. And I wanted to help her, make her feel better.
Undoubtedly, there are a lot of other people much more deserving of my help. People in actual need, with no money or a roof over their head.