Pulling the tight fitting headphones from my ears, I looked left and right before stepping onto the smooth cobbles of the street. The wide gaps between the stones sucked in my trainers as I let the headphones snap back snug over my ears, keeping them warm from the cold.
“Some say love, it is a river,
That drowns the tender reed…”
Bette Midler sang in my ear on the walk to work. I hummed along, my lips tingling with the vibrations, as I rubbed the growing goose bumps that raised themselves along my forearms.
The steady drizzle of rain that had been drifting from the clouds began to harden and mist over the damp concrete. The drops got fatter and the wind began to whip the chill of autumn onto my reddening cheeks.
“It’s the heart afraid of breaking,
That never learns to dance.”
I pulled the itchy wool of my scarf up over my nose, the rough material scratching the tender areas of skin that formed a red canyon between my cheeks and nostrils. ‘Eight hours isn’t a long time,’ I tried to console myself. ‘I’ll just hold off and take my break as late as possible today.’ I wished I were still in my flat. Curled up on the sofa, a blanket over my knee’s and some rubbish movie playing. ‘Why don’t I have rich parents like everyone else seems too,’ the voice in my head grumbled. ‘Oh no …’ I forgot to pick up my breakfast on my way out. I could see the yellow curve of the banana resting around the yoghurt pot, sitting uselessly on the kitchen work top. ‘At least I remembered the spoon,’ I thought sarcastically as my hand felt the rough outline I had jammed in my pocket in haste this morning.
“When the night, has been too lonely.
And the road has been too long …”
Without warning, the world started to spin. The clouds, still beating down heavy drops of water, mingled with the trees. The bare and lonely looking branches reached out and then vanished into the hard black river that felt like concrete as my scarf was ripped from nose and replaced with the cruel kisses of the tarmac.
The car that had ran its way through me, stopped barreling past in a hideous screech of rubber. I could taste the thick, iron taste of blood creeping its way from the gaps where my teeth had been only moments ago, and crawling down my tongue towards my throat.
“I’m sorry, oh my god I am so sorry! I didn’t see the sign! I didn’t know it was a one way street,” the frantic voice of an older woman battered its way into my ears through the ringing. As I turned my eyes skyward, the clattering of a phone falling out onto the road became the last thing I saw.
A great light came down from nowhere, the rain became nothing, the anguished faces became nothing, and the blood pouring from my mouth became nothing.
I didn’t stand up, I didn’t roll over, I didn’t have to do anything. I was neither standing nor lying, I wasn’t breathing or suffocating. I wasn’t here, or there, or anywhere anymore.
I wouldn’t be an astronaut, or a teacher, or an anything. I wasn’t a thing anymore, yet in that, I could become everything. As the light gave way to the magic that lay beyond the soft tones of Bette’s voice still came from all around.
“Lies the seed that with the sun’s love,
In the spring becomes a rose.”