What happened in the next two minutes could change her life forever but all Charlotte could focus on was her shoes.
The once-silver ballet pumps, now a grubby shade of grey, were much improved by the UV light. The purple haze picked out the remaining sequins and camouflaged the scuff marks on the toes. She squinted at a poster in the eerie brightness: “There are anti-drug lights operating in these toilets to detect illegal substance abuse. Thank you for your co-operation.”
Charlotte stared down at her feet, lamenting the six quid she’d wasted on the pumps in Primark. There would be no more frivolous spending of her babysitting wages if… no, she couldn’t think about it, couldn’t bear to look yet. Just a few more precious moments of uncertainty.
She plucked strands from a plaited pigtail, twirling the hair round her finger thoughtfully. Jenna always went mad when she did that, after she’d done them so neatly for her in the morning. It was good practice for her - Jenna was doing a beauty course at college. Ever since they were kids she’d wanted to be a hairdresser. Charlotte didn’t know what she wanted to do.
The strip lights buzzed with a low hum, suffusing her in an ethereal glow. It seemed somewhat out of place to Charlotte, who felt as though she was sitting in Mystic Meg’s bathroom. She scrutinised the illuminated loo-roll dispenser more closely than anyone ever before.
Eventually three minutes had passed. Charlotte stood up slowly, took a deep breath and turned around.
She cast her eyes downward to the little white stick of destiny, glowing in the gloom, and read the word on the digital display.
“Fuck,” she breathed, and kicked the door hard. A lone sequin detached itself from her shoe and rolled away.