A writer, an ex-lover, the prettiest woman you'd ever see.. All of them on a rainy day, in neon-lit giant, lonely city.
One thing a city never runs out of is its people.
Tiny people, hiding intense longing; people who yearn for nothing more than a better life and sometimes, if they are daring enough, love.
And, boy, do they work hard for it! But far too many chase after far too little. A fierce and lonesome struggle... All the tragedy collecting in a grey cloud over teeming neon-lit streets.
It was like any great city. Grey, hard-working, fierce, neon-lit and lonesome…
Why is it great, then?
Well, because there are dreams to begin with, and love. And people in desperate search of both. Tiny people, but a giant, almost infinite collection of them.
But you already know this. You probably live in some great city...
His book was to be called 2047. A story about what love can be, and yet what it eventually is and does. It followed a sequence of entwined lovers and their alienated urban lives.
He had made little progress.
Steam escaped in heavy tufts from his ordinary tasting coffee. It was pouring outside and people seemed to bring the cold rain into the café on their coats, in their hair, and inside their boots and ears. Just a little while ago, the chairs were all but empty and he sat peacefully, gathering the chaos outside. And now, suddenly, the rain had driven in all the disorder.
He set aside his notebook.
Nothing was prettier than a city washed in rain, he thought. The lights gleamed with newfound vigour, the streets were lonelier and silent, and the air briefly fragrant and pleasant.
She leaned by the window, smoking. Sometimes, for a few minutes, she’d count the cars passing by. Then she’d give up…
In the background the radio was torn between two stations.
The phone wouldn’t ring; having learnt it overtime and in the hard way. All her relationships ended the same way.
And yet, they began rather easily. She was strikingly beautiful; the kind men would steal glances at even when they were with other women, sometimes their wives. She lived by herself, worked when she needed to, and was always looking for a great evening. Most men enjoyed that. They sought her, wooed her and found their escape in her flippant ways. But then within days they’d tire of her. They weren’t bound by tradition, the urban life had rendered them wild, but a generations of convention still marked out some invisible boundaries.
At the end of the day, in their coward heads, she was just a woman looking for a great evening.
He didn’t know why he wanted to call it 2047. Maybe he wouldn’t, eventually.
That morning he had planned to put together one chapter; two characters who were once in love, would decide to meet after years. To begin with they’d both be thrilled. The man would come in early but then he’d leave before she arrived, forever. And she, who’d leave office early to see him, would never come.
He always thought of his stories like that. The events, first, and then he’d fill in the words, emotions and motivations. The mark of an ordinary writer, he thought.
Would he meet any of the women from his past? Probably not he imagined.
All his relationships had been grim affairs; he spent more time weighing up his lover than being in love with her. They’d survive for a while, without joy, before a cruel ending. And always because he was never in love to begin with.
Life had its way of inevitably keeping people from finding true love, he believed. What are your chances of meeting the perfect woman if you get to know not more than four or five, or fifty if you are especially reckless?
“Hey!! Isn’t that him, there, by the window?”
“There, sitting alone, with the coffee!!”
“Oh yes. Yes, that’s him.”
“I don’t know. It’s been years…”
She never cried for them, the tears were simply those of repeated abandonment, by sheer idiots. And of loneliness…
A loneliness that drove her to men she never fancied.
What did she fancy? Narrowing her eyes, she stared out of the window with her thought. Well, craziness, a shade of it, behind a sombre existence. Also a passion for something, anything. Along with a list of little-girl stuff.
Suddenly, she pulled the plug and rid the radio of its misery. Putting on her yellow raincoat she left the apartment for a walk.
Her friend left for work, leaving her alone.
He hadn’t changed a tiny bit in three years, she thought. He had the same spread of hair, his usual uneven beard and was dressed as awkwardly as ever.
And yet in that café overflowing with sodden people, you’d take special note of him. Or was it just her?
They were seeing each other for three years, when suddenly one day he ditched her saying he didn’t love her and probably never had. It was horrible, because he did it over the phone and not because he couldn’t face her, but because he didn’t really think much about it.
She tried to reason with him, but he’d have none of it.
And then slowly, after months, she began to give up, and found herself concluding that she too had never really loved him. It was nothing more than the ordinary allure of an aspiring writer.
Had he sensed that? Is that why he left her? Was she as despicable as he had been, all along?
But it was all very long ago; the pain was lost and with that came forgiveness. A conversation would be nice, she felt.
She would walk by him, so that he’d notice her, and pretend not to see him. If he called out, there would be much surprise and a conversation would follow. If he’d ignore her she’d simply walk away.
His coffee ran out, like the rain. Soon the café would be nice and empty again.
What was he thinking about? Aah, yes…
Maybe true love wasn’t meant to happen between individuals? Maybe the truth lay only in an infinite compilation of tiny lives? An assortment of forbidden relationships, first loves, reckless nights, marriages, bonds that lasted forever, those that never started, love at first sight?
A woman walking by caught his attention. Even a tacky yellow raincoat couldn’t hide how remarkably lovely she was. She stood outside, ignoring the now faint drizzle, trying to make up her mind about coffee.
Maybe they’d get talking? Maybe he’d use the conversation for his chapter?
She got up to walk past him, wanting him to call out for her, more than ever.
The surprise-act was ditched at the last minute; suddenly it seemed like a stupid idea.
He was looking out of the window; a notebook by his side, his coffee had run out. And then she noticed the pretty woman standing outside that had his entire attention. She stood still for a while, and then turned around and left hurriedly.
The rain had chased away the dour fog over the city, briefly. And the streets were teeming with true love, once again.