Photograph by Lisa Shambrook (please do not use without permission)
A Rainy Night in Soho
He glanced at her, his pale blue eyes tearing up as he gazed at her long hair, glowing silver in the moonlight upon the pillow. She stirred and a smile played on his lips. He wanted to reach across and move a stray lock away from her face, but didn’t want to risk waking her at such an early hour. A sigh swelled in his throat and he released it gently, shivering as his breath departed in a long wisp of smoke.
The cold penetrated his bones, even under the thick duvet, and he pulled the cover up tucking it round his shoulders. He carefully manoeuvred his body, again cautious not to disturb his lady, and settled on his side, his head gently relaxing into his flat and stained pillow. He drifted off to sleep with the beating rain drumming in his head.
She danced in his slumber, invaded his dreams with her youthful grace and honest beauty. He whirled her in his arms, up and down the rainy, glittering streets beneath the brutal neon lights and dirty windows.
Her crimson lips and tight dress won hearts and minds, and caused desire to rise through the steamy rain. He whirled her in his arms, letting her dance, and he fought her battles and defeated the dragons disguised as paramours. He allowed her essence to soak him and he fell in love.
He awoke again, still in the depths of night. He tried to dilute the urge, but failed, and he pushed back the duvet and stepped out onto cold, hard linoleum. He hurried across the floor and down the corridor, the cold air prickling like a million tiny daggers of ice and he clicked the bathroom door closed.
Sweet relief and he moved as swiftly as he could back to bed. Sliding down beneath the covers he wriggled his toes to recirculate his chilled blood. He shivered violently as the temperature slowly rose and he gripped the duvet tight around his chin. He stared at the window, still partially lit by the roaming moon and smiled as familiar neon blue flickered in the bottom corner, from the sign on the building opposite. He sank into the mattress, feeling his body reacquaint to its accustomed hollow. His eyes gradually closed and his dream resumed.
She still danced, but this time she waltzed just out of reach, her long, black hair glinting against the stormy night, her lips smiling and teasing. He relaxed to watch and adore his queen as she stole the hearts and yearning of every man she saw. He had nothing to worry, for she returned to his embrace every night, creeping back into his arms and soul in the early hours to slake their desire.
The moon was vanquished when he woke, and salmon pink streaked through the early clouds peering in through the icy window. Frost had etched and encrusted the pane while they’d slept, and dawn’s colours danced, filtering through the oblique design.
A tired sigh escaped his mouth and he chuckled at the smoke eddying through the crisp morning air, as he turned to regard his love.
She remained asleep, her raven hair, now silver and white in dawn’s gaze, and he carefully propped his old body up on his elbow. Ravaging cold bit through his greying vest and goose-bumps exploded across his wrinkled skin, and his rheumy eyes blinked with unshed tears.
He caressed her shrunken cheek, and moved the stray lock of hair. He leaned forward and tenderly kissed her dry, cracked lips.
Grief tore through his ancient body, and he shuddered, and swirling breath danced across her peace, as his tears dropped onto her tranquil face.
Her song was done, not a note escaped her silent lips, but he gently moved from his depression in the mattress and cupped his body to hers. There he lingered, holding his love, his tears wetting the pillow and her silver hair, and in his dreams she danced…