Unfounded BeautyMature

It wasn’t what you’d expect to find beautiful in someone, it wasn’t the eyes that were beautiful, they were dull, without hope, gray and lifeless, her smile was full of yellowing teeth, her hair tied in a ratty knot at the back of her head, dirty and unkempt, seemingly beyond hope of ever being clean again. That was how she appeared, beyond help; she seemed empty, at least, to most people. To one she glowed.

Then she was gone; she’d slipped around a corner to a thin alleyway, the darkness engulfing that lifeless figure. Darkness engulfing everything.

He couldn’t let it! Sleep wasn’t possible, he couldn’t sleep. A jolt ran through him like an electric shock, dragging him into consciousness again. He couldn’t sleep.

Swinging his legs heavily to the ground on the bench he’d been resting on, Leigh ran his hand over his clothes in a gesture that once would have removed some wrinkles. Now he wondered if some of those wrinkles weren’t permanent fixtures in his clothes, unable to be removed even by a heavy-duty presser from the dry cleaners he could see on the other side of street. He lifted himself heavily from the bench and carried out the same ritual he had every time he’d seen the dull yet beautiful woman but a glance down the alleyway told him she’d already disappeared.

Usually that was the point he would have stopped at, watching her disappear around the corner, but this time he followed. He placed each foot carefully in front of the other, progressing down the grim alley, the walls covered in the posters of the latest bands playing seeming to press in on him from either side. Each footstep echoed through the narrow gap between the two high rises. Sweat prickled his skin and his breath quickened, he placed another foot firmly in front of him but could do it no longer. As each of the walls dragged themselves towards him he escaped the small space, the steady, careful steps replaced by hurried, haphazard ones, and retreated to the safety of the street.

She was lost for another day.

‘Damn it.’ He swore at some length, kicking angrily at a bottle top that had missed the bin and found itself prey to whomever came along. ‘Damn it Leigh. It’s just a fucking lane-way you dumb fuck.’ His next bout of swearing caused an old lady clutching a small bright pink handbag to her chest to turn around and glower at him, her young granddaughter just in front of her. He mumbled an apology without meaning it.

It was a challenge he would defeat, he decided, standing, his legs planted firmly on the cracked concrete, in front of the dark lane. If he’d been in a Western movie the lane would have been a man twirling guns, one in each hand, glaring at him…he tried to block out the lane and visualise this but it kept swimming back into view, unable to be held at bay. He sighed, deeply, it was a challenge he’d defeat another time.

The End

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