The Ballad of Nancy Stokes

Clouds rolled in, all over the small town.
The air alive with the smell of chip shop grease and cheap aftershave.
Saturday night, alive and loud.
But not Nancy.
At least not by the end.
Down in the canal.
Left to be found by old Mrs Clarence, off to the shops on a Sunday morning.
Her small dog Terry, sniffing at the banks where poor Nancy rested.
Her head covered in an old carrier bag.
But that night before, she’d dressed up to the nines.
No Tesco tiara threatened her styled hair.
Scraped back with moose and anticipation.
For the dancefloor awaited, and the eyes were wet.
Leary sockets soaked in her moves.
The jostles and gyrations of decade old motions learned to entice.
To ensnare.
Those oiled men, with receding hair.
The smell of socialisation and modernity.
Nancy left her friends, who’d found Jesus in the bottom of a vodka bottle.
And in the stall of the toilets which stank of desperation and piss.
Where sticky kebab hands soiled their jeans and youth.
Where Nancy went, nobody knows.
But they left her some of her clothes at least.
Soaking in the green waters of the canal.
The old Robinson factory looming over her grave.
Passer-by’s flicking cigarette ends into the water, sizzling near her empty soul.
Not knowing she was there.
In the sludgy brown surface.
Where Mrs Clarence found her.
Nancy Stokes. The 40-year-old girl who loved to dance.
But never learned to swim.

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