I stand, bundled up against the cold. My eyes wary, darting this way and that, monitoring the area.

It's late, I'm nervous, I wish the taxi would come.

I catch a glimpse of her out of the corner of my eye. A girl, too thin, maybe four or five years older than my daughter, working the streets. Her clothes, blantantly provocative, high heels she can barely walk on, lips so red I can see them from 50 yards away. I force myself not to stare, go back to my anxious surveillance.

But she is staring at me, I can feel it, and I find myself unable to avoid her gaze. As I return her look, she lifts her head, defiant and challenging, straightens, tosses her hair. The message in her eyes and her posture, is clear. "You think you are better than me, don't you? Well, you're not."

That look makes me wonder. Do I think I'm better than her? I don't know. I don't want to think it, I try not to, but I recognise my innate snobbery. Somewhere, I made better choices, of that much I'm sure, and I'm thankful for it. But, truthfully, all I was thinking before that was, "Poor kid, she must be freezing."

A car rounds the corner. It pulls up beside her and she leans in the window. I can't hear the negotiations, obviously, but the door swings open to let her in, just as the taxi arrives. I briefly flirt with the idea of calling to her, offering her a ride somewhere, playing the heroine.

But it's not my place to interfere with her life, and I'm sure I'd get no more than a rude refusal for trying to stop her earning. She climbs into one car as I climb into the other, and the two vehicles pass as we drive off in different directions.

"Oh well," I find myself thinking, "at least she'll be warm for a while."

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