It smells of spilt alcohol. Muggy and cloying, the stench is sticking to my clothes and staining my fingers. In a detached vanity I walk through the mess of people. My hands catch at their clothing as I pass; the ones I don't know I avoid touching, knowing, seeing. Shy away. The tiles are smooth under my feet, the soles not protected from their cold by a tights-layer of thin threads. My balance is always the first to go, and I stumble as I walk. One step, two step, concentrate. Pride keeps me upheld.
The noise and loud and shouts of the people who's volume goes up the more they drink are thudding against my temples. I hear the smack of a glass on wood. The laughter at a bawdy joke. The gurgle of liquid being poured into a mug. Suddenly the mug is in my hand, and the drink is sharp on my tongue, and the heat of my friend's fingers is tight against my palm. To one side we hold our own conferences and our own meetings and our own parties; our corner of familiarity in the fog of strange people. A card game starts in the middle of the floor. I sink to join it in a flurry of velvet skirts. The cards are sticky with drying drink. It's hard to concentrate in the noise. A jug of bitter-sweet liquid is being passed from grasp to grasp. My hands shake as I put down the mug. I'm not even half-drunk yet. But I think that's enough.