Streetlights – an experimental short story

Walking home in the dark though a quiet city of amber streetlights. My hood’s up and it’s just cold enough that this jumper isn’t thick enough. I’d stumbled out of that doorway in a hurry, eager to stand in the street and breathe in the cool sooty air I remembered. I haven’t planned on leaving though, but the thumping bass –heavy music streaming out of the open window on the third floor reminded me that I didn’t want to dance anymore. So with a guilty glance back I started to make my way home- not that I knew which direction that was, but with my arms crossed defensively over my chest, and my feet moving I at least felt proactive. Although it wasn’t raining now, if definitely had; the air moist and the pavements lightly drizzled on. As I reached the end of the road a small car passes me, headlights like twinkling stars rushing past me. I think about the warm passenger inside, imagining that they are safely on their way to a warm home and a cosy bed somewhere. My pocket’s vibrating- checking my phone under an orange streetlight I see that he’s text me.

Where did u go?
Why couldn’t u just stay this once?
Ok fuck u then
Don’t bother texting back.

A succession of jabbing messages lined up on my screen. Not even having the energy to reply anymore I just switch of the phone, letting his words and empty threats fade to black in my hands. I had thought I loved him, and I think he genuinely thought that he had loved me, but we’re practically strangers now. Two different people, and being together now just felt like forcing two unmatched puzzle pieces together; they may fit if you push them hard enough but the bigger picture is never going to be complete.

This street has more trees than the last, little drips of old rain dampen my clothes and the cool night feels colder. Wearing all black I melt into the shadows, invisible and safe. I reminisce about when I wore bright colours and short dresses instead of dark jeans- but I barely remember that girl anymore. That girl was lost in his hands, hard days, long nights, broken bones, hungry eyes, silences. No she wasn’t lost, she was beaten away. Her skin so bruised she forgot what healthy was, her belly so empty she forgot what full tasted like, her life so bleak she forgot what colours were. The street lamps were fewer now.
Another buzz in my pockets:

Don’t be home too late x

Knowing that someone out was at home and that they cared warmed me a little, and I walked a little faster. Looking out for any signs or street names as I made my through the vacant suburbia. I thought about how at this time the world looks as if humans all packed up their bags and had left- abandoned their homes and now everything lies still and silent, except for me. I wish I had brought headphones, the quiet murmurings of the sleeping streets were just ominous enough to be eerie.

I feel the rain before I see it. Unsympathetically heavy droplets soak me. Running to the shelter of a leafy tree on the corner I watch the rain rush, glistening auburn in streetlights glow. I should be angry at the sky for unloading this one me, but instead I feel a perverse sense of cleansing from the downpour. The rain washing away my sadness into the gutters with the rest of the rotting leaves. For a moment rejoicing in the weather I pull down my hood, but it’s too cold.

Suddenly a cab turns onto the street, parting the river on the road like a biblical miracle. Dazed for a second then sprinting to the curb and waving frantically as if I was drowning, I hail the taxi. The dark car pulls up and I jump in.

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