"Charlotte, may we depart soon, it is a quarter past nine"
a tall round lady in a ivory flapper dress and pearls yelled to her petite, identically dressed friend, who was busy conversing with a gentleman at the bar.
The music played loud at this ball, perhaps that's why her friend failed to hear her?
she tried again as she placed her palm over the other woman's shoulder.
the friend responded as she looked between her friend and acquaintance "This is ...?"
she trailed off.
he answered as his pleased expression turned to one of exasperation.
"Richard! Richard, this is Lottie, Lottie, Mr Richard"
she cheerfully introduced them
"Richard is an investment banker, his party are sat in the bay VIP booth, wonderful is it not"
she added as she pointed towards a balcony.
"We agreed to leave before nine"
Lottie sighed as Charlotte turned her back on her.
Lottie sat on a bar stool, hands and elbows on her knees.
She glanced sideways towards her friend for a moment, before shifting her gaze back towards the shelved aged wine bottles decorating the employee area.
In spite of the big band playing and all the chatter, Lotte felt highly aware of her surroundings, this venue looked full to capacity, yet both seats beside her were empty, neither appeared half as uncomfortable as the one she occupied? Lottie gently brushed the tassels of her dress, to her surprise, this was an action she could hear clearly as she.
Her puzzled expression grew as she stroked her dress again.
Unconsciously, her gloved hand moved from her lap towards her face, where she scratched her jaw, the sound startled her as soon as she started. Jolsting her hand away from her face, she looked perplexed, though a choice to scratch again bought about the same result, that sound, exaggerated, comparable to paper tearing, not a gentle scratch.
Lottie stood up, feeling light on her feet as she steadied herself
"I was sitting too long"
she turned towards Charlotte and Richard.
The pair of them had gone.
"This has to be the umpteenth time she has done this"
Lottie said in a huff as she stood outside the venue, hugging her arms.
It was freezing, raining and dark.
The street ahead looked moderately light, though this would soon change once she lost the light emanating from the hall.
Giving the 'Evening Plaza' a last lingering look of disgust, that didn't sit well with the patrons huddled in the doorway, Lottie made her move down the boulevard.
"Clearly she could hear me"
Lottie ranted to herself
"She could hear him, but conveniently not me, as per usual"
she rolled her eyes and huffed
"And yet again, she wonders off without me! Well no more! No matching dress shopping where I pay "two thirds" of the bill, and never once did she follow through on her promise of afternoon tea"
"Today wasn't worth my while! I roam the street alone"
Lottie suddenly became a little more aware of her seclusion
"And that man, Richard, no difference between any other suitor she converses with, the moment they see me, their faces drop. I do wonder if she invites me to gatherings with the sole purpose of making herself look better? It wouldn't surprise me if..."
Lottie caught something in her peripheral.
A shadow? More of a speedy black cloud?
She stopped in her tracks.
After a lengthy moment of remaining still and silent, Lottie held her breath as she spun around, scanning that 180° thoroughly before progressing to a 360°.
She saw nothing, nothing but a peaceful, uninhabited environment.
Feeling new found confidence replacing some of her unease, Lottie began continued her journey.
This time, she saw no dark clouds, but heard something, a thump, another thump, then another, assaulting the pavement just slabs behind her.