The party is in a tiny flat on the first floor. Everyone is shouting above the music and the room vibrates with sound. Jo’s hands clap above her head and she turns her hips in time to the beat as she dances barefoot. She knows Rob is watchiher and she twists round to catch his eye. He is leaning against the wall while he puffs on a joint. When he leaves the room she feels a rush of disappointment.
More people are pushing their way in. They are even drunker than the people already there, are carrying plastic bags full of drink and shouting. Someone treads on Jo’s toes. On the other side of the room, a fight has broken out and Jo makes her way to the hallway to avoid it. There, people are leaning against the walls, lounging on the stairs, chatting to each other, smoking and laughing. She walks past them to the galley kitchen. Bottles litter every surface and the kitchen floor is drenched with wine and crushed crisps. She sees Rob holding a wine bottle up to the light, inspecting the contents. A couple are arguing in the corner, but apart from Rob there’s no-one else in the room. He finds some red wine in one of the bottles and fills Jo’s glass. The man, worn out by the argument, storms out.
‘Got a smoke?’ the woman says.
Jo puts her mouth to the stream of water from the tap and sucks down cold water.
‘This is Jo,’ Rob says. ‘We work at the same place.’
The woman lifts her head, puffs smoke towards the ceiling. ‘Pleased to meet you.’
Jo swallows some wine and looks at Rob, wondering. He tops up her glass. This is supposed to be one of their ‘relationship resting’ periods and she feels lost for words; her head begins to spin. She feels sick. Too much wine. No food.
‘Can we open the window? I need some air.’
‘Help yourself,’ the woman says.
Rob comes to the rescue and heaves the sash window open. Cool fragrant summer air wafts in from the orange blossom outside. he houses in the terrace are packed close together and she notices a light from the neighbouring house go out.
‘Hey. Be careful.’ Rob’s voice.
From here she can see the city spread out in the distance: lines and lines of twinkling house lights climbing up the mountains far away until they vanish into a pinprick. A half-moon pops out from behind a cloud. Someone turns the music up. Raucous laughter comes from the room where she’d been dancing. She decides she’s had enough of parties. This will be her last. She is thirsty. She finishes the wine in her glass, holds it out to Rob. ‘Can you get me some water?’
He fills it up from the tap and hands it to her. ‘Hang on, think I’ll join you out there. Just get my fags…’
Jo scans the kitchen and sees peanuts scattered on the floor, the cupboard doors hanging off their hinges. The woman in the black dress leaves the kitchen and Jo feels at ease sitting out there away from the action. From the party room comes the sound of Rap. A breeze fans her face and she sighs deeply, wanting this moment to go on forever while on the street below a motorbike roars past and from somewhere in the city a siren screeches. She hears a meow. A kitten is on the neighbour’s ledge and Jo makes a half turn towards it then looks back towards the kitchen where Rob is coming through the doorway. Behind her the kitten is meowing louder and Jo shuffles along the ledge. The kitten continues to meow frantically: it is tabby with white paws and has moved towards her. Hand outstretched, she leans towards it, loses her hold on the plastic glass which bounces on the patio below. She feels herself slip and grabs the blind cord. It is the only thing there to hang on to.
‘Jo……….’ Rob’s voice, screaming.
She feels herself go. The wind rushes past her. The smell of orange blossom floods her brain. In silence she falls and feels her body land on the patio below, feels the pain sear through her.
Read on to find out what happens to Jo!