Streetlights

New York, NY :: © 2009 Tom Sweeney

A little something I wrote for Folktales on LSRfm, Sunday 6th February 2011, 3pm.  It belongs next to this track.  If you tuned in as you were encouraged to a couple of hours ago, you’ll understand how it works.  If you didn’t/couldn’t, you should be able to listen to the show here when it’s available.  Enjoy.

—————————————

He opened his eyes. Everything was rotated, out of place. Lying on his side, sofa cushion forcing his neck into painful contortions. The ceiling flashing blue, white, blue, reflecting the light of the TV, left on all night. He looked up at the window; dark, the sodium glow of the streetlight turning the window frame amber. He glanced down at his watch. A little after 5pm. Wednesday had slipped by unnoticed.

On the screen, a young man in a white t-shirt and black leather jacket stepped out of a car, wiped a sheen of sweat from his forehead and ran his hands through his slicked-back hair. He stood for a moment then was knocked stumbling back into the side of the car, embraced by a beautiful girl. Detroit perhaps, Motown itself. Dark streets, rain, streetlamps and stop signs, spots of colour reflected on the wet roads. Camaros, Thunderbirds, girls in denim, chrome-plated glory.

The credits rolled. Snapping out of the dream, away from the screen, the memory came swimming back into focus. In his mind’s eye he saw her, down by the water’s edge, looking up at him. In the dreamworld where characters find redemption in rain-soaked streets, he wouldn’t have a problem. Back in the room, he knew he had to go, had to try, to go and be turned away. He stumbled to the bathroom, splashed water on his face, looked up to the mirror and almost jumped. Never mind five o’clock shadow, this was three days of ragged beard combined with the unmistakable bleary-eyed zombie look that only comes from the bottom of a bottle of cheap Scotch.

He reached the front door, then hesitated, retraced his steps to his bedside and picked up the framed photo from the beside cabinet. Stuffing it into his bag, he shut the door behind him.

A year to the day. A pilgrimage of sorts. Driving all night, winter sun creeping above the horizon, pressing its rosy fingers into the inky blue-black of the 3am sky. The motorway lights clicked off as the night sky retreated.

What’s changed? 365 of these, and nothing. Until…until he stops wanting to go back. He pressed his right foot harder down into the pedal.

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