A story, written in the August heat
The burnt orange terracotta roofs slipped into their evening attire of ebony gowns, shadows concealing their rusted glow. Sparkling orbs of water hung from the lip of each awning the man passed, every drop capturing the unenthusiastic yellow light slowly sliding from the street lamps. His leather coat flapped behind his knees, like a cape tumbling from a hero’s shoulders, as he sauntered through the muted street. There was a steaming stick of trdelnik clutched in his hand, and he carried it with the importance of a scroll bearing royal insignia. The man himself did not have a taste for sweets, preferring the rich burn of the black coffee in his other hand, but the trdelnik was a gift and a goodbye. He slipped into an alleyway concealed behind tangles of ivy, rusted garbage cans and a bicycle abandoned in his path. The man travelled like this through the city, slinking through alleys like one of the stray cats perched on the dripping fire escapes tracking his progress. The people he passed could not help but trace him with their eyes, pausing to subtly peek or blatantly stare at him. His inky black hair glistened with reflected moonlight, his dark skin glowing smooth and warm every time he approached a streetlamp. His eyes glinted as though he knew things no one else did and his mouth, although solemn, looked as though it remembered the feel of a grin. He looked like a man who was paid in secrets, who shook hands in alleys and in the backseats of cabs, and who knew he was right before you even began your argument. He looked like a man who could ride a motorcycle, who could navigate without a compass and who could speak the language of every city he ventured through. He looked like a man who’d been kissed in the violet haze of backstage dressing rooms, lipstick staining his collar, and in the silent dark places between doors and rooms. He was a man who always left a woman behind. There was a girl sitting on the crumbling steps tucked behind the bar. She looked unaffected by the bellows of drunken boys and the screech of music. His eyes trapped her where she was. The man walked towards her, disappearing in the puddles of shadow between each streetlamp. Her heart seized in her chest, stuttering with every step he took. He settled down on one knee in front of her, the damp pavement soaking through his pants. Although not quite a smile, an amused dimple formed in his left cheek and the frown line between his eyes softened. He held out the now barely warm trdelnik and raised one eyebrow in question. Instead of reaching for the treat however, she clasped his hand. He rose, extracting himself from her grip but she stood too, clinging to the lapel of his jacket. She was drawn to him, inching closer every moment. To her it was uncontrollable, she longed to flatten herself against him and cling. The man slid out of his dripping coat. He swung it around her shoulders like a blanket, burying her in its heavy leather folds. She stared at him, unable to pull her eyes away. He handed her the trdelnik, planting one small kiss on the damp back of her hand, and then the man left her.
She stayed there all night. The jacket slid from her shoulders and tumbled into a puddle around her legs. The rain returned, dripping down her face, sliding down her neck and under the collar of her shirt. And her trdelnik, much like her heart, unravelled itself and fell to the pavement in a tangled mess.