A hot summer evening swells with a sickly grey fog, as London bathes in rich shades of purple and orange with the setting of the sun. The sun, long tired of overseeing its’ quarter, had been merciless on the bustling city. The entire city seemed to glisten with sweat. The summer that year had been unrelenting and hardly a cause for celebration.
Beside the somewhat rotten banks of the river Thames were a heady collection of London’s finest; Lawyers breathing in the scent of the city, loosening their ties and laughing far too loudly at each others witty observations. Couples hand in hand and drenched in lust strolling lazily by the river bank. A group of elderly women talking softly through their teeth while throwing stale bread at the incessant demands of a pissy gang of ducks. Two young men sitting far from the crowds passing a joint back and forth, skimming stones across the river. Another couple, drunk on cheap beer and maddened by the hot sun, arguing loudly on the reason why he had to stare down that girls top for so long. Overhead a rather menacing alliance of seagulls circle above a house boat meandering down the river, screaming at the sky as they circle ever on.
Bill, dressed in a pair of jeans and a clean white shirt open at the collar, was sitting outside the Black Rain pub with a pint of cold lager in his hand. The bench he sat on was as close to the river as possible. Bill had always found the playful trickle and gurgle of running water comforting. He was waiting for Kelly and something was telling him he’d been waiting for her a lot longer than he thought he had. She wasn’t late but, to Bill’s mind, his heart had been waiting far too long for this. His new flame he’d met at the local library, escorted back to her car and in a flurry of mumbling, lost words and red faced embarrassment asked to meet for a drink later. On such a day as this it appeared that, without biting back his thoughts, it was going to go to plan. The plan itself hadn’t really been drafted, corrected or approved. More clumsily put together in a frantic whirlwind of desire filled anxiety.
Drink, lunch, talk and then? Who knows? But so much for that. Having no plan, thereby throwing yourself into the often questionable arms of fate, is sometimes the best plan.
Having no real luck with women Bill was especially excited about meeting Kelly today. Life had turned rather sour for him recently, what with the recent death of a dear friend involved in a sadly strange BDSM situation. And with the mugging he’d so pathetically received that weekend. Not forgetting the inaugural fanfare of his job working out to be a depressing hell hole of social ineptitude.
It hadn’t improved things much when he came home to find he’d been burgled. Everything gone, even his first edition Cure LPs. Memories. At the sight of his home in utter foul disarray he fell to his knees and sobbed. The sight of a man in unstoppable grief on his knees in the middle of his destroyed front room is one we can all easily imagine. We’ve all been there. Male or female. No doubt about that.
At this point in Bill’s life he thought he could take no more. His soul was wrecked. His mind nothing but burnt embers resting fitfully at the bottom of his stomach.
Everything was gone.
And then he met Kelly. If he hadn’t bumped into her browsing the “Classics” section in the public library he doubts whether he would have ever made it out of bed again.
So there he sat in the summer sun, trying not to sweat too much, drinking cold lager and patiently waiting for Kelly. Kelly, who could potentially save him from himself. Kelly who could make his dreams come true. Kelly. All there was in that hazy captured sun splashed afternoon was Kelly.
And then she was there. Right in front of him. Like she’d been standing there all this time. Just while Bill had been assaulting himself with everything he’d ever been through, everything he’d done wrong, there she stood.
To be perfectly honest Bill didn’t say anything for a few seconds. Looking up in at her was almost too much for him. The curve of her cheeks, the quirky smile on her lips, her slicing green eyes. Too much.
She wore a long flowing white dress. Her hair was tied up in a ponytail and swayed lazily behind her in the quiet summer breeze. Bill had forgotten how dark she was. Her skin was a deep autumnal brown and looked impossibly smooth. But it was her eyes. Those green eyes. In them sparkled an ocean of promise and full throttled passions. In them lay secrets Bill had always looked for answers to. As Bill sat there, dumbfounded and completely lost for words, her eyes twinkled like a collision of stars. The world around him fell to its knees in the presence of this woman, then rose to cheer her name when she smiled.
“You ok? Not been here too long have you?”
“No no, not at all. I got here a bit early. Been doing a bit of shopping.” Bill felt very sweaty.
“Buy anything nice?” Kelly stood, and looked far from awkward. Her mouth kept that secret smile, that hidden message of promise. Bill had already given away most of his intentions based on the way he’d been looking at her. He cursed himself and shot to his feet.
“Please! Take a seat! Have you come far today? I’ll get you a drink shall I? What would you like? Shall I grab a menu from the bar?”
Bill’s heart had sadly, started the conversation before his mind had been given the chance to talk. He shook with fear as he patted his pockets, looking for his wallet.
“I’d love a gin and tonic if that’s ok! Is the bar in there? Can I give you some cash? How long will you be? Is this our table?” Bill didn’t feel very sweaty anymore. He felt like he was beginning to drown. His neurosis of late does not cater for happiness. Self disgust was more applicable. Throw in a pinch of despair for good measure.
“It’s been a while hasn’t it?” Kelly asked.
“What do you mean?” Bill asked. He instantly knew what she was referring to but something in him wanted her to say the words, to smash his face in with a rusty mirror so he could see his pathetic tear filled face before he got exactly what he deserved. His fists clenched. His face felt like it was burning off his skull.
Kelly put her bag on the table;
“I mean it’s been a while since you’ve been with someone right?” She smiled then.
All of a sudden, all he wanted to do was to fall into the arms of this woman and sleep until all the pain had passed.
“How did you guess?“
“Tell you what, why don’t you get the drinks in and we’ll talk it over” she said. Bill hadn’t even noticed she’d been holding onto his arm the whole time. He blushed like a schoolboy and scampered off to the bar. Still smiling. His face muscles ached with this newly found expression but he didn’t even notice. All he knew now was this woman. And peace.
The afternoon sped towards the evening and the evening itself slipped into tomorrow. Time became irrelevant. They talked of past love, of family, of themselves and of each other. A pair of electric blue dragonflies whirred mechanically along the river bank. A black Labrador sniffed deeply at a discarded shoe underneath the bridge. The sky throbbed with purple, orange and the deepest red as the sun sank over the horizon. The frenetic flap of wings from a flock of pigeons. The evening fog brewing as the river relentlessly trundles past. All of this slipped past unnoticed to the two entwined new lovers kissing by the river bank. All lost in gleeful shadows.
The tender caress, the open wounds they hold so vigorously to their chests are exposed to a new world. All the remains of dark memory flew upwards to the velvet skies and scattered across the water like dust. Nothing mattered anymore except that kiss. That kiss that spoke more than a thousand words could say. Suffice to say their union was made. And the next day, the morning rain seemed to applaud them as it battered against Kelly’s bedroom window.