500 word short story inspired by a painting.
|A Silhouette in the Rain|
Coloured lights reflect off wet bitumen. Neon signs advertise singers, sex and underground trains. A dark silhouette can be seen in the rain, collar of the blue trench coat folded up. He walks away from the crowd hunched under a black umbrella. Only a beggar at the corner of the concert hall watches his wet footsteps. He calls out: ‘Shilling for a struggling student, penny for a pauper, pound if you can, Sir!?’ but remains ignored. Only the flower lady turns her head, grinning at the young man holding out his hand. Her smile fades into sadness, when she recognizes the dripping blue raincoat disappearing into the night on her side of the street. There goes another missed opportunity.
Jane was well into mid-life now and all that glowed around her were the bright flowers in the light of the street lamps. Her face and particularly her smile were still pleasing but way short of the glow that had made her so attractive twenty years ago. The red-headed beggar had glimpsed her smile and once the crowds had vanished into the venue and passers-by thinned out because of the terrible weather he sidled up to her.
- ‘How are you, dear?’
- ‘Not bad, how about yourself? Was it worth your while holding your hand out there?’
- ‘Not really, but I got enough to buy a flower for my love.’
- ‘In the rain they stay fresh longer. Take your pick!’
He picked a pink carnation, which looked terrible with his wet red hair, but Jane said nothing.
- ‘Will you be staying for the end of the show?’ he asked her.
- ‘I should, but in this weather, no!’
He twisted the flower in his hand and looked at their wet feet. Suddenly he lifted his head and said:
- ‘Why don’t we go to sit under the bridge down there, out of the rain and watch the barges making waves until the concert is over?’
- ‘Crazy idea, we’ll be catching our death down there!’
He pulled a little bottle out of his pocket and holding it up he said:
- ‘I’ve got protection!’
Her eyes came alive with a lusty sparkle:
- ‘Ok, then. Let us get out of this rain!’
Under the bridge they found a crate to sit on side by side. The water was bright with neon lights glittering on the waves. There was a tooting of horns but the traffic noise was dimmed. He pulled the bottle out again. It was half empty already so he offered Jane the first sip.
- ‘ Thank you…..’
- ‘My name is Tim.’ he offered.
- ‘I am Jane.’
- ‘You’ve got a great spot there for your flowers.’
- ‘Your carnation will wither if you leave it lying here for long. I thought you were going home?’
- ‘Don’t have a home at the moment.’
- ‘Oh, what about your love?’
- ‘None of that either.’
Suddenly there was that silhouette again.