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The angel and the guitar

August 9, 2015

Above him the stars swam, invisible, light pollution hiding them from his tired eyes. He walked, streetlamps bright, puddles gritty. He tried to shrug off the melancholy. The negative feelings that seemed to have him in a vice. He stopped, checking his mobile, hoping for a text message that would never come. Shaking his head he trudged on, feeling grubby; the stale warmth of the underground sticking to his clothes like pine needles. He whistled to himself, not used to the unfamiliar quiet, the traffic a distant hum; the heartbeat of the city.

He stopped,, looked around, casting his eyes into the shadows, the quiet places where imagination gave birth to ideas. He checked his watch, noticed the time, the fatigue beginning to lift, worry beginning to fill-in the cracks.

He tried to check, find out where he was. He fiddled with his phone, tapping and swiping, sighing and tutting. To his annoyance he realized he had no power, his umbilical leaving him drifting like space debris.

He walked on, hoping for a landmark, for familiar things; a shop, a bridge, a signpost.

Tired, he walked on, moving from streetlight to streetlight, oasis to oasis, puddle to puddle. Then he stopped, his head cocked to one side like a hopeful gun dog. He could hear something faint in the breeze, a music, a graceful bird, rare and other-worldly, gliding through the long night.

He walked on, hoping, listening, wondering. There it was, a guitar, a classical guitar, and not the electric monstrosities that sounded to him like tortured chainsaws.

He leaned on a garden wall, his elbows pressing cold stone, his face lifted up towards the music, the faint light glowing through curtains. He told himself he would just listen for a moment, that he had to go, to leave. For a moment he felt like an intruder, a cuckoo in someone else’s nest. He listened. and began to smile.

At first the feeling was unfamiliar. It reminded him of the time when he found an old postcard in a cardboard box on top of his wardrobe. It was a view of a harbour he had visited as a child. For a moment, holding the postcard he had felt a deep warmth swelling inside him. A beautiful familiar happiness, a longing for those far-off perfect days of sea, sun and joy. Now, standing in an unfamiliar street, leaning against somebody’s wall, he felt it again; a transporting joy that made him feel light and happy. He listened for what seemed a very long time; the guitar sending silver sparks flying in the air and straight into his heart. He didn’t know the tune, but it touched something deep within him. After a while he peeled himself away and walked on., towards the dawn, towards reality.

The week ran by in a dizzying haze of work, work, travel, travel, stress. When Friday came at last he longed to get out of his flat, away from the office and plunge himself into some green space. He took a tube to Green park, the sun warm, the platform crowded.

He walked, putting Hyde Park corner behind him, the tourist riddled palace and the too fast traffic. He walked, enjoying the flowers, their colours riotous in the sunlight. For a while he forgot Sarah, his ex-girlfriend, and the bombshell she had dropped so gracelessly just a month ago.

He sat beneath a Willow, its long, drooping branches making a canopy over him. He was about to take a bite out of his baguette when he heard it, the sound of a guitar, joyous and thrilling.

He got to his feet and looked around. Roller bladers, skate boarders, joggers and couples. Camera toting tourists, children, dogs. But he could hear it, the sizzling, hot chords, the rapturous vitality of the music.

There she was, sitting on a bench, her fingers alive, moving fast, dexterous and fascinating.

“You ok?” she asked, smiling ruefully, absent-mindedly strumming.
“I, I think so.” he said, his heart beating fast. “I was lost the other night. I heard a guitar.” he offered.
“Where?” she asked.
“I don’t know, I was lost!”
“I mean roughly!” she laughed, playing an arpeggio.
“I’m not sure. I ended-up at the tube.” she looked at him, scrutinizing him, working him out.
“I often play at night.” she said simply, her smile genuine and warm. Her hair dark against her bright summer dress.

“What was the guitarist playing?” she asked, grinning.
“I don’t know. Sorry. Not very musical.”
“Don’t worry. was it this?” She began to play, and a tear came to a corner of his eye.

“Yes, that’s it!” he said, feeling as exposed as a crab at high tide.

She smiled, her eyes alive and twinkling.

“Sit next to me.” she said, patting the bench. He sat, the scent of flowers in the air. He sat and she played. She played until the sun was but a golden suggestion behind the trees.

“It’s ok” she whispered, patting his arm. “You’ll be ok now.” she kissed him lightly, a butterfly wing brushing his lips.
“Thank you.” he whispered.
“You’re never truly lost.” she said, getting to her feet. It just feels like it.”

She blew him a kiss and walked away into the evening, her guitar strapped to her back, the sunset in her hair.

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