Portraits from a town

Part 1

And so this was London. These weird overplayed notes in the darkness of the concert hall. If there was a dress code, it was black and grey and greyish black, like the sky and buildings, as if the whole place was constantly at a funeral.

She was married to man who’s name she never took the time to remember. And when she could remember it, she didn’t know him anyway. They never spoke. She never needed his name. It was mutual.

It hadn’t always been like that. There had a been a spark, a fire, then life. Life was like a fire extinguisher. The thought made her laugh. They had spent their life walking into the gushing nozzle of a fire extinguisher. It wasn’t a sophisticated thought. Not like these weird queasy notes, not like London. 

She sat in the concert hall wishing she’d brought a book. She could sit outside in her mismatched clothes in the empty bar, sucking in the smell of alcohol, her nose in a novel.

This was her life. So different to the other life. She came from somewhere no one had ever heard of and no one else had ever been. It meant nothing, the rest of London came from somewhere else as well, inexplicable how they all dressed the same.

London was another planet. You could be an alien in London and no one would know. It was not like that in the town where she lived. The music baffled her. Was that singing, is there a difference between noise made through your mouth and singing? She thought so.

Part 2

Another working day done, off the train, head down, up the hill, along the high street. It was dark as she dawdled home. Dithering in her bag on the pavement. He rushed past, ear phones in. He didn’t say sorry. He didn’t look. She simply didn’t exist. She was non-plussed, unimpressed. That level of speed, focus, direction was unnecessary in town. This was not London.

She kept going. Down that street, along that one, to her street. The van was blocking the pavement-again. They were standing there talking-again. She smiled. The van door was open. What would happen if she just climbed into the cab and just went through it, opened the door on the other side and leapt out. She didn’t. Wasn’t brave enough. She just went around and home. To Him, the one who’s name escaped her, again.

Part 3

He saw the woman dithering on the pavement, paid no attention, brushed past her, meant to say sorry but didn’t. He would have said it too loudly. These damn earplugs. He was listening to music his wife recommended. There had been a concert the night before. He had refused to attend. This was why. This rotten damn music. This singing, was it singing? It was just noise through your mouth and a plinky plonky keyboard. He didn’t enjoy it. He was trying but he didn’t like it.

This marriage, this life, he hadn’t made it work. How had he gotten here, the same place where had he come from. He was from here but never intended to end up here. He had wanted something different. This music was certainly different.

This noise, this music, it reminded him of a fire extinguisher, one had accidentally gone off at work. This odd music, that was exactly the sound it had made. How could she like it? He made an effort to think of her name when he thought of her. Otherwise he was worried he would forget it.

They had parked blocking the pavement-again. Damn it, he was just going to go through. The door was flung open, why not? Through their cab, open the door on the other side and leap out. They were standing there talking-again. He was going to go through, not around through. He got closer, closer still. Then at the last minute, he swerved, went around. Next time he told himself. Next time.

Two lives, they touched so briefly, almost. More similar than different, despite their beginnings. A moment, but not long enough to make their destinies collide. Maybe next time.

Some people would draw it but I choose words for my pictures. You know the place, you’ve passed through on your way to somewhere else. You didn’t stop and if you did it was just to buy some food  before you drove on. It was nondescript, home to no one you know. You can’t even remember its name. It wasn’t big, it wasn’t small, it was just a town.

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