My eyes peep open just a little. The first thing I see is a toilet roll. Never a good sign.
My head feels prickly, like a thousand little men are marching on the top of it. Strands of hair are plastered across my cheek. I'm warm and fuzzy. I sit up awkwardly and gently arch my back, which has gone all stiff. I crick my neck to the left and then back to the right. A terrible habit, but it makes me feel good.
It's all lovely and quiet. Too quiet. I stand up, placing one hand on the door in front of me. There's a door in front of me?
I then realise where I am and all the pieces suddenly - and terribly - slot together.
I'm in a toilet...?
---- Earlier ----
It's busy, so you have to inch past people to get to the bar. I flash my eyes apologetically in a way I hope looks attractive, but most probably looks manic. The menu is splashed pink and sticky. I hold it at the corners, my eyes squinting at the small typed font. I'm too drunk to focus properly, but on the left at the very top of the page I spy the word 'mojito'. Yes, I think to myself. I fancy one of those.
I'm starving. I'd munched two bags of crisps after work. Always a quick fix. They probably weren't even enough to soak one of the God-knows-how-many pints I've drunk. My belly feels empty apart from the sloshing of flat beer. It gurgles, then growls in agreement.
"Yes please?" The harassed bartender says, leaning forward and looking at me expectantly.
"Mojito please." I say, and because I can't see the food menu, I take a wild guess. "And some chips - we're sitting over there." I point in the general direction of my friends, because I can't quite focus on anyone in particular.
"Right. That'll be eighteen pounds and fifty pence, please." He says quickly.
"What?" I yell, half outraged and half unsure if I heard him right.
He repeats the price. I don't care. I want chips, so I shrug, hand over my debit card and upon request, punch in my pin.
I lean over to my friend and signal expressively to let her know I'm off to touch up my make-up in the ladies. I'm pretty sure I'll need to by now. The pink sticky stuff seems to be all over my hands, although I can't remember how.
Every flat horizontal surface in the ladies is being used to prop up handbags. The sound of clicking heels on tiles, the heady smell of too much perfume being sprayed in no particular direction and crumpled up paper towels welcomes me to the ladies toilet.
It's far too busy, but I want to wash my face. Placing my handbag between my knees, I quietly congratulate myself on being sober enough not to chuck the new Longchamp on the floor.
I pile my hair up, and fix it loosely with the hair tie around my head, shoving my jacket sleeves as far up my arms as they'll go. I push the tap hard. It gushes suddenly into the sink, splashing right out again, and soaking me with water.
Not to worry, I was going to splash my face anyway.
I glance at the mirror, pulling out my red lipstick, I smear it once across my bottom lip. I know I've drunk too much. The orange red makes my face appear even paler, but at least it draws attention away from the hazy look in my eyes. My top is still soaked, despite gyrating against the hand dryer for at least five minutes. I give up and make my way back past the kitchens with their bright lights and white uniforms, past the dim, candlelit restaurant, towards the bar where everyone moves as one. I keep my head up and my eyes focused as straight forward as I can.
Our table is full of empty pint glasses, stained water rings and spills. They are all laughing with wide gestures and shouting above the noise. I see their eyes crinkle. It takes me a little under a minute to spy the large white bowl, completely empty except for a few sprinklings of crushed sea salt in the bottom.
Someone had asked for tomato ketchup.
They ate my chips.
I burst out of the bar and into the fresh air.
"You alright, love?" A gruff voice asks.
"No, I'm pissed off." I reply, fumbling about in my bag, pulling out a cigarette, but failing to find a lighter.
Liam stumbles up behind me, and puts his hands on my shoulders.
"What's up with you?"
I point my unlit cigarette at him, and scowl. I'm trying to tell him about the chips but it's all such a big effort. I just mumble and get cross. Stupid.
I whip around and storm back inside. The room has become a pit of dark noise. It comes from nowhere in particular, but reverberates inside me like I've stuck my head between two cymbals. Clashing from all sides. I stand in the middle of it and close my eyes for a moment. It feels wonderful. I open them, and I suddenly feel sick.
The toilets are less busy than earlier. I scuttle through the doors and slip into the empty cubicle at the far end.
Locking the door behind me, I hang my bag on the silver hook and exhale.
I'm safe. I can close my eyes in here.
I put the toilet lid down and sink onto the seat. It's all still spinning so I close my eyes. I rest my head on my lap, just for a moment. It feels lovely. Much better.
Never mind about the chips. Never mind they ate them all.
And I just close my eyes for a minute.
We sit side by side in a black cab; a huge sulking space between us. I chew my lower lip. My teeth are probably orange-red but it doesn't matter.
Liam turns his head to the right and glares at me.
"I didn't mean to fall... " I begin. But his eyebrows merge together with his dark brown eyes and I know I shouldn't speak.
I want to tell him about the chips - how they ate them all, how he was right - I can't drink pints in rounds, as he's always said.
But I button it. I sink back in the taxi's leather seats (feeling much-better-now-thank-you) and watch the early morning mist flit across the Thames.
It'll all be clear tomorrow.