I put on my best shirt quietly and studied the marks on her translucent skin from the underwear and the crush of the sheets. A wisp of brown hair stuck to her lip and lifted with each breath. A shiny camisole lay dormant on an old backless chair beside the mattress. Her drunken flung shoes were somewhere. She struck softly at an assailant in a dream and moaned her husband’s name.
I wanted her for a while. She didn’t want an affair and I agreed but I never imagined she would be so lovely. A trite memory told me that the day was breaking soon. I wanted to hold her once more but not wake her but lust got in the way and she stirred, tussled and yawning and reached out.
‘You look like you’re going somewhere. Why don’t you stay?’ she said.
‘You’r twisting my arm but I need to work.’
Outside, the only light came from a single street lamp flickering insanely. A woman in a short skirt stood there, smoking. She rubbed her bare thighs with a free hand to keep warm and when she saw me looking, she waved as she got into a car.
A red neon sign in a window illuminated the dew like blood on the pavement. A newspaper blew along dancing in the light-show. and as far as I knew it was only me now watching the small silent things. Rejoicing in the clarity of my life, I guessed she didn’t love the guy.
I love the noir, the dark city streets. A rat foraging. A possum eating fresh leaf tips from a rosewood seedling out back in the night garden where spiders haunt dark spaces, crawling over walls and spinning webs of truth, unseen.
A long alley, headlights at the end glaring setting your wispy hair on halo fire. Dark puddles reflecting pale light and bronze human statues smoking, waiting for buses and in cars, steaming breath. The smell of diesel. Homeless pile of rags in a corner moves, showing fact of life in a lonely place, uncaring and wanting. Desire is dying lonely and wicked.
Who will miss you? Your mother, ex, the lover who’s heart you broke when you left, leaving behind injustice and loneliness like dust and leaves in a swirl. Your lover’s head filled with fantasy and denial, sniffing back tears. Sleepless nights wandering about the dark streets, the smell of sewer on the edge of everywhere. Get on the bus, lift your bag and go on, get out of here.
The night was hot and the sweat ran down to the small of her back. She reached the pedestrian street where people jostled each other. The smart, the young, deformed, old and eccentric. Close to the city only a few convenience shops were still open with immigrants working the twilight hours.
Her dog pulled and became tangled with a passer-by. It would be tethered behind the gate where she knocked lightly and it opened ajar. Her lover stood half naked at the bottom of the stair and took her hand. Pulling her up to his room with no words said, and the sex was urgent.
The room was spartan and she looked up at the bare yellow bulb. The bed smelled of old sweat and her lover. There was no one to help clean and fetch and choose eye catching decor. There was a laundry basket overflowing and a stained sink. She washed herself and remembered how her lovers had been. When they could stay in a room for days, only leaving for food or for wine and cigarettes. Before time was short and dreams had turned to shadows.
She was tempted to stay, to help out, to call her husband and call it all off but she left. The children still needed her and what could she do? No job, no income, no ideas. Directionless. She left alone with her dog to hide at a cafe, enjoying some wine, avoiding her gossiping friends. Her fellow inmates, trapped, obsessed with their dogs and their lovers.