Her pockets bulged with sweets collected from the stalls after pantomime performances. Each pear drop and chocolate mouse wrapped in torn strips of old poster bills.
Leant against the lobby wall, she offered me a striped humbug bandaged in an advert for Dick Whittington.
I stared for a moment. At her gift nestled in her palm. At her. She waited.
I reached out and she tipped the sweet into my hand. Even through the crumbling paper I felt the sugar, tacky against my skin. With dirty nails I picked the fragments from the surface and placed the mint in my mouth.
“Can you taste the glamour?” she said, her voice a blaze of spotlight. “The panstick and scorch of footlights? The tang of scenery paint?”
I tasted none of these. Just dirt trodden carpets, the cloud of dust as the grand drape descends and the house lights burning away the glitter.
With the sweet clagging in my throat I turned away, her scent of peppermint fading to nothing, and I walked back into the knives of February’s gale.