Thursday 29 March 2018

The Lady in Red

by Caroline S Kent

black coffee

The rain hammered down hard, bouncing off the tarmac as hit it the ground.
            Sitting in the National Express Mag Lev shelter outside of the main building the British serviceman was protected from the worst of the elements, but he was still damp and feeling miserable. He didn’t feel like talking to his fellow travellers which is why he now sat outside in the open fronted shelter, his kit bag propped up in the corner behind him.
            He was returning from his last posting in Nairobi for six weeks of accumulated leave, and he had looked forward to seeing his girlfriend when just two days before he had received the dreaded “Dear John” email which is why he was now pondering what to do.
            Now with no one to look forward to spending time with and with no parents to visit, for he was an orphan, he had no specific place to go. He had zero intention of visiting the orphanage as he had no good memories of the place. In fact it was the main reason he was a soldier. As soon as he could pass for old enough he had run away to join up to escape the place. He had been underage back then but he was tall and well built; so with falsified papers he had managed to bluff it and join up.
            Nursing a cold cup of bland vending machine coffee he pondered on if he should go back at all, or if he should go somewhere else entirely different and have a good time whoring, or gambling, both perhaps?
            Another National Express Mag Lev pulled up to the other side of the station and was headed somewhere else. Looking at the Mag Lev’s destination board he read that it was bound for Edinburgh. Perhaps Edinburgh wasn’t such a bad idea he wondered.
            As he was considering changing his ticket to Edinburgh instead a bolt of lightning lit up the night sky.
            Well if I ever needed a sign from a God’ he thought. With that he got up and started to stride towards the main station.
            As he approached the stations main terminal he saw her stepping off the National Express Mag Lev. He didn’t know her name or anything about her, but he knew, just knew that it was her, the one he had been looking for all of his life. She turned and looked straight into his eyes as her foot touched the ground.
            Her tawny, gold-flecked eyes glancing towards him told him everything that he needed to know, like a proverbial thunderbolt from the sky mimicking the very real one just a moment before. Her knee length flowing crimson red dress made her stand out even more in this dreary, rain sodden day. She wore no coat or protection from the elements, yet she stood proud and untouched by the cold and rain. Like an Amazonian princess standing proud before her army.
            His feet picked up a pace on their own and in no time at all he was running towards her, but she was still over fifty yards away. She turned away from him and then walked around the corner of the building and out of his sight. He faltered in his steps. He knew, just knew that she was the one for him and that he had seen the same recognition in her eyes. So how could she now turn away from him and walk away?
            He felt fate pull him along as his feet started again all by themselves and he was running again towards her. He turned at the corner of the station and what he saw caused his heart to skip a beat: an empty yard! The large pale red brick-walled yard was just a parking lot for the Mag Levs and he could see no exit. Neither could he see her. She had been out of his sight for just a few seconds. So how had she just disappeared?
            He quickly ran over the last few moments in his mind wondering if he had imagined it all. But no, there was a crushed cup in his right hand, no longer containing any coffee, having spilled out in his fifty yard sprint. He looked all around the empty yard in hope that he had missed a doorway, something, anything, to give a sign where the tall raven haired, tawny-eyed woman had disappeared to. There was: nothing. She was gone, vanished into thin air.
            He turned to walk back when a glint caught the corner of his eye. He spun round, but there was nothing there. Thinking that this was getting stranger by the second he resolved to walk every inch of the yard, check every corner, every brick to see if he could have missed any escape route for the striking beauty that he had chased after.
            A little over ten minutes later he was still none the wiser. As he shivered, realisation dawned on him that it was still raining and that he was now drenched through. Looking at his watch the time was 19:05 and his Mag Lev to Newcastle was due in ten minutes.
            But should he go to Edinburgh instead?

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