It was past midnight as the timeless song of silence filled my ears. The city had drifted into an oblivious dark realm, slowly weaving through the cobbled streets and brick buildings; fading, fading, and gone. Still, however soundless everything may have seemed, there was yet a pulse, some sort of rhythm, beating somewhere between my heart, head, the streets and my ear drums. A monotonous, rhythmic beat sounded out; a rhythm calling, pulling, attracting and reaching out to me. It softly, yet desperately, took a hold of my hand and urged me to walk out into the streets. It invited me into the breezy, vulnerable, naked shelter of the moonlight.
I sat at my desk, by the window that overlooked the lit-up city at night but looked rather undesirable and dull in the morning, holding a pen on a paper on which I had painted the face of Sweet Suzie, scribbling words on her face; trying to write a good poem. I had told Suzie once, “Hey, babe, you aren’t a poet, I know. But, sweet baby, you’re a poem.” And we had kissed for the first time under a lamp-post, one November night. Ah, the joys of the urban world. However, now Suzie was dead and I have always been prepared to move on and immune to keeping memories. All that ever mattered to me was ‘The Now’; I only knew how to flow. I did not ever stop to predict or plan or worry of the future whatsoever. I would just do it, despite of being unaware of what risk I might be encountered by in the near future. And the past? Well, that would just fly out the windows. If there was one thing that I had taught myself to learn inside out, it was to be immune to regretting and the desire of wanting something that has already past. I did not feel sorry for what I had missed. I mostly never missed anything at all.
I felt something hot on my forehead, which I soon came to realize, was sweat. I was sweating in the coldest of the nights. I was sweating, but strangely, I was shivering simultaneously and my body was weary. My shoulders and back ached, my fingers tapped, my lips were dry and my legs trembled. I looked beyond the glass, which had collected glittery and reflective raindrops on it, to discover the image of the bare street across from my eyes. I shook my head and removed my glasses from my face and placed it on a book in front of me. I scrunched my face into my hands and groaned. The past few weeks, including the joyous moment of moving into this apartment near Canary Wharf, right by the river, had been rather difficult for me. I was a failing writer, who dreamed too big, with a day job of working in a bakery straight from 8 o’clock in the morning to 2 o’clock in the afternoon. And now it was an hour past midnight.
I went and pulled out an old record that lay piled up inside a box that was yet not fully unpacked. I placed it under the needle and watched it for the first empty seconds as it started turn, then got up to get back to my desk. The disc turned on the turntable and the song spoke into my mind. I didn’t know if it was possible but Strange Meadow Lark started to give me a saddening feeling. I stared at the still world outside the window as if it were millions of miles away. The disc kept turning and turning and the music flowed into my ears, my hollow head, my reflective eyes. Suddenly, it was completely silent again. The tune had been cut off but the disc kept turning under the shiny needle. I shot my eyes at the machine, frowning, wondering what had gone wrong. However, just before I got up to check on it, Take Five started playing. It was only then that I had realized, I only had to step out the door and I would be a part of the night. The music seemed to drift off somewhere. It creeped out through the walls and became an external sound; a beautiful melody, yet somehow intense rhythm, jumping in my heart. It was screaming now but not harmfully. It was stroking me with gloves of fur and feather. It was screaming like a trembling lover. I felt my breath beginning to sound louder than the music. It was a strange emotion; a strange reaction to music. I was still sweating. The drums hammering against my chest. I stood up, put my glasses on and soon, I found myself outside my apartment, in the rain, the wind, the chill and in darkness, without a coat; I was only wearing a shirt and trousers. I ran my hands through my greasy hair. I looked around me like a bird out of it’s cage in a foreign country.
In the far distance, I noticed a lit up street lamp, pouring it’s glow on the river. I abruptly, started sprinting towards the light, slightly startling myself for the high sensitivity in locomotion. I looked at my watch and it looked back at me; half past two. The song was still going, the beat was too. My feet were cold. I spun and examined my surroundings, trying to figure out where this music was coming from. The song was playing in my apartment, which by now was left much behind, but it still seemed very close to me. I walked to the edge of the river, pushing against the railing, bending and leaning over to face the water. I had a sudden craving of wasting some of my energy but I didn’t know just what to do. Life, nowadays, felt like an unwanted ritual. The same things occurring for days on end, in a loop. It was all too repetitive. I felt as if I needed to break the circle. Suddenly, I spun on my heels and started running, peculiarly hyper-active. The cold was stimulating my reflex. The isolation was encouraging my freedom. The night was letting me dream with my eyes open.
I ran farther and farther away from the river until I was at the circle of Westferry Circus. Then, I ran a bit more along West India Avenue until I was too tired that even the music had suddenly stopped. I dropped down on an island of grass on the pavement. The beat was gone and now it was silent. The rain had stopped but the wind was still teasing me by whispering secrets of the unknown. Now, I was somewhere that I couldn’t tell. If it were day-time, perhaps, I might have been able to guess. And for some reason, my toes were hurting. I reached a hand out to feel my feet and there was something sharp. I instantly jerked my hand away. Then, I looked at my feet: a glittery piece of green, glass bottle was stuck into my bare feet. I had left my shoes behind in my apartment. I shook my head and laughed. By now, my clothes were wet and I was starting to get painfully cold. I leaned back against a street lamp. That was when I heard a magical sound.
A single E note from a saxophone rung out, only this time it was more realistic, external and nearby. I squinted and wrapped my fingers around the piece of glass in my foot and pulled. A tiny bit was still in the flesh and it was not allowing the whole piece to come out. However, the pain was too strong, I couldn’t pull it out. Then I heard a long, emotive growl from the sax. I wanted to see who it was that was playing this sweet melody, so late at night. I wanted to see who was awake just like me. I gripped the piece of glass between my thumb and my index finger, inhaled, and pulled it straight out. There was a little streaming of blood but I wiped it off with my sleeve. The rest of the blood mixed with the puddles in the streets. I limped through a narrow street that was decorated by ghostly buildings with people playing hide-and-seek in them. I followed the melody. A few meters after, I turned a corner of a café.
There, sat a slender figure with a long over coat and hat on the stairs of the café. Hair glimmering under the glow of the street lamps. Playing a golden saxophone. I listened for a few more minutes until, the stranger stopped by their own will. I took a step towards the saxophonist. She turned to look at me. Her red lips apart, her eyes hidden by the shadow of his black hat. Her skin was ghost white.
“Hello,” I greeted her.
He stood up, allowing me to realize that she was also a very tall girl. Then she faced me completely. “Hello,” she said smoothly. Her eyes were light and a fringe of bleached-blonde hair hung over her right eye, almost fading into the color of the iris and the skin. She looked very much unlike me, for I was a rather small, olive skinned, curly, black haired man from Nevada.
“Aren’t you cold?” the woman asked, quietly; keeping up with the atmosphere.
“I am,” I nodded, forgetting I was not in possession of a coat at that moment.
“You like to be cold?” she smiled.
“What?” then I had realized. “Oh, oh, yeah, I mean, no. I just forgot my coat in my apartment.”
“And your shoes too?”
“Yeah, and my shoes too.” I smiled awkwardly.
“Very unpleasantly eventful, yes.”
“Ah,” she smiled. “Here.” And saying this, she removed her long coat and, towering over my shoulders, wrapped me in it. “You’ll hopefully get warmer now.”
I didn’t know just what exactly to say to her. So, I said, “I really don’t know what to say…”
“Don’t say anything,” she said in a low tone. “Only tell me, isn’t the night so beautiful right now?”
“Sure,” I smiled. “That’s why I am here, without my shoes and my coat.”
“The night called you?”
“It did…” I said, facing him.
“What did it say?” she asked, as if she actually expected a reply with a real story. Her eyes staring intensely, full of a dreamer’s curiosity.
“It didn’t say anything…” I said.
She still waited for me to continue.
“It only sung out to me.”
“Stream or ocean?”
“Wind or rain?”
“Well,” I smiled. “Not anymore.”
“Me neither,” she smiled.
“Do you live here?”
“Where do you live?”
“Nowhere particular. I’m a traveler.”
“Where did you come from?”
“A constellation in a different galaxy.”
“Is that so?” I laughed.
“Yes,” she giggled, biting his thin, long finger girlishly. “But I ain’t never goin’ up there again!”
“Why?” I laughed.
“Because,” she smiled. “I feel comfortable there.”
“Isn’t that good?”
“No, you have to learn to challenge your capabilities.”
“Why do you not like it here?”
“Yes,” I laughed. “On Earth.”
“Because nobody is like me. And nobody likes me.”
“I like you.”
“We’ve only met.”
She smiled and looked up. It had started to rain again. Then, she pulled off her hat. She looked at me and chuckled like a child. I smiled back. And then she asked, “Do you live here?”
“Not too far away.”
I laughed, “No just a few meters away.”
“Ah,” she smiled. “I see.”
I nodded, “Where will you stay today, beautiful gypsy?”
“Well, fellow settler, it’s funny you ask that,” she said. “I have nowhere to stay for the night.”
“You can sleep in my apartment.”
“Yes,” I said. “Unless, I get killed.”
“You’re not worth killing.”
“Some other people.”
“And have you killed?”
“Never.” She smiled. “But I have been killed many times.”
“Never mind,” she said. “I’m very sleepy,” and leaned against my shoulder.
I smiled at her youthful, yet poetic view towards life. Her admirable self-freedom of imagination, unlike most grownups.
She stayed with me for the rest of the night. She wore a white, 19th century gown underneath her coat. She looked elegantly spiritual. Chipped black nail paint. Smudged eyeliner. She stayed with me, by me, and the music stayed with me too. The whole night passed by with the rhythm. The next morning she was gone. Her coat was gone, her hat was gone, her boots, obviously, were gone. She was gone. Only a letter and a photograph lay on my table and a glorious memory. It was a photo of her with brown hair, clean faced, from another lifetime. The letter was written is a rounded handwriting.
“Who are you? That’s my question to you, though you may want to ask the same. You will be able to ask me and you will get to reply, for I think, since I have met one as sweet as you, I may return to Planet Earth once again. Maybe, settle down a little.
And for the first time ever, I realized that the past did matter, after all. A million questions that I wish I had asked to this angelic, apparent alien from last night rushed into my mind. This was a tale that I would never forget. And this was the music of the night that I would always remember.
I wanted to break the circle and someone else had broken it for me. Life was turning. I was getting closer to my dreams.