It rained on that Friday night. But then, it always rained on Friday nights, These thoughts and not many others puttered around in his mind as he stepped out on to the sodden sidewalk. Why did it always rain on Fridays?
Home. Sleep. Alone. Peace.
What more could a man ask for after a hard week’s work? He lifted his gaze to plot his path home and then, he saw her. Or rather his eyes traced the slow sensuous path of her hips as she walked in the rain. Simplistically functional in her manner yet at once seductive and deliberate, he stared as she strode on. Swaying from side to side, effortlessly gliding forward. She turned to check for oncoming traffic and in the process unwittingly caught his gaze. Fleetingly and only for a second, but she had seen him. Or rather she’d seen him watching her.
His pace quickened almost unconsciously to make up the distance between them. The dull thud of his footsteps beating hard against the tar, surreptitiously closing in on the click clack of her heels echoing on the quiet street. She turned again as if to check for cars, but her eyes never quite reached the street. Again the hint of a smile, this time with a flash in her eyes – an invitation. He walked a little faster and fought a little harder to catch up as they danced along the drizzled roads, each breath punctuated by the staccato rhythm of her footsteps.
In the distance, a glaring light slowly approached. Low slung and menacing, the beams cut through the velvet darkness. The low pitched drone of an approaching engine grew louder and he turned to study the sweeping lines of the car as it drove by. It was everything he had ever envied – powerful, elegant, graceful and expensive beyond his means. Transfixed, he stared as it slid by, its black, serpentine lines soaking up the dim rays from the street lamps. If he’d been able to look a little closer, he might have seen the driver looking not for somewhere to go, but someone to be with. Might have seen the empty passenger seat. Might have felt the loneliness. As it was, the drone of the engine drifted off as he watched closely with envy, but didn’t see nearly enough.
Suddenly he turned, remembering the dance and the walk and the smile. But she was gone. His footsteps quickened, his pulse raced and his breathe stopped short as he took ever broader strides to try and make up the distance. But she was gone. At the next corner he swiveled to check the streets and made out her silhouette in the distance. Her slow, deliberate gait stalling for time, slowly inviting him to follow. He stared ahead at his route, his destination, then swiveled again. She had taken the road she needed to follow and he, well, he needed to get where he was going too. He had his own road, his own path.
His destination was not one he particularly wanted to visit, but rather the one he was expected to arrive at. The place he was supposed to be. He hesitated for the briefest of moments and wondered why he hadn’t followed her, but he knew why. He knew that if he’d only seen her smile again or watched the sway of her step just a little longer, he would have been captivated and would not be walking to his dark, empty house now. But he’d missed it, he had been distracted. The moment was gone. And so he walked on.
As he continued silently home, an engine roared dimly in the distance, drifting on the wind. The far off squeal of tyres desperately biting at the tar before the harrowing crunch of metal on metal.
And still her footsteps rang out like rifle shots, so far off in a distant direction as he walked slowly and alone.