London with its grey ambience was exactly as he remembered. The skies, closing in around you, much like a domed ceiling on a theatrical stage. There was no air and the echo of feet on the pavements of the city made it sound all the more so. He was out of place.
Mitch didn’t feel the icy wind as he stepped from the damp, mildewed sidewalk in Cockspur Street, boarding the tall red number 13 bus. His black leather coat flapped around the length of him like a flag around a flagpole, the loss of body weight noticeable since the old days.
Observing from afar how well she was coping without him was the plan; disguise might not need to be considered. He had always been good at that, disguise, being the clown and his new lifestyle lent itself to this situation. It was November in London and the weather was disgusting, but he was loathe to let it spoil things. A distant lyric from a song echoes in his head tunelessly;
“I bless the rains down in Africa”. Toto sang that in 1985, now it triggered memories of huge proportions in Mitch. Africa, harsh and cruel, with only it’s splendour and infinite beauty as a liberator. Dry Bushveld, parched and still, waiting for the saviour from a navy blue sky that could bring about transformation. Large drops falling, stinging your face, beating holes into the too dry earth. The heady fragrance when it was all over, with running rivulets changing the song of every bird, beast and insect of the undulating plains.
Changing their Africa. Giving them life.
Outside the fog still swirled around the commuters in a queue, where he had
earlier appeared at the side of the road; a broad shouldered man and outstandingly
different, he had drawn curious glances from two girls. This annoyed
him and the look he gave them bordered on confrontation.
“You haven’t changed, then?” She would have said.
He had. Time and waiting had worn him out, forever was a long time.
The decision to return was made for two reasons, although after painstaking reflection it did scream huge mistake. In the first place he needed closure, and not overlooking the fact that he had walked out on her.
He hoped that she was finally moving on with her life. This he deserved, but it was also something that couldn’t hurt or touch him any more. Never. Things had always been black or white, he struggled with grey. Now he had earned a break from the future which he had inflicted on himself; but he couldn’t just wipe his feet and evacute where Fiona was concerned, never could, she was different. He would be saying goodbye from afar.
The girls were now sitting behind him, giggling. He watched their reflection in the glass from deep set ice blue eyes, his grey hair growing lank onto his shoulders around a pale face. He knew that they were fascinated by a silver bar with a number engraved on it hanging from his ear lobe. But became bored quickly, then discussing the conquests they hoped to make at the pub that evening.
Things had changed so much since girl met boy and then waited to be asked out. Thinking about it, as he stared out the window at the passing blur of shadowy buildings, it had never been that way with Fiona.
She hadn’t seen it coming at all. Fiona was flirtatious, young, even happily………..
to be continued…