The light faded quickly in the city as the sun began to set behind high rise landscape. The young woman sat alone on the balcony enjoying the warm air and the changing colours of the buildings. Not quite the beautiful changes that happen to the trees in the autumn, but there was something magical about it in any case. Her move to the city had not been an easy choice. She had given up her job to move away from home, her parents and her friends. She had convinced herself that it was the right thing to do and that the only way to succeed was to take a leap of faith. This was her big leap of faith.
She had been watching the two men, one at each end of the block of flats opposite, for some time and as the street lights came on, each of them retreated slightly into the shadow of the building. The one to her right was reading a newspaper; or rather he was holding a newspaper. It partially hid his face and he had not turned a page for some time. At the other end of the block. The man with a hat, held a mobile phone to his ear. Again, it was unlikely that he was using it. There were no movements, nods of his head or arms to indicate conversation.
The door of the apartment block opened and an elderly lady exited onto the pavement. Sha paused for a moment and then turned left, took a pace, looked along the street and then turned about, to walk in the opposite direction, towards the man with the hat. As she approached him, he bowed his dead slightly and turned to face down the side street that ran down the side of the apartment block. The elderly woman continued along the street in the direction of the small row of shops in the next block. As she walked on, the man resumed his unconnected call on the phone.
Daylight was fading and the street lights were now the only source of light as the apartment door opened again and two young women stepped on to the pavement. They laughed together for a moment and then each turned to walk in opposite directions along the street. Almost simultaneously they reached the men who were at the end of the block. It was clear from the warm greetings they all exchanged, that the men had been waiting for the girls and the two couples went their separate ways down the side of the apartment block and out of sight.
She sat for a while and reflected how things just went on in the city, much the same every day. Her vantage point on the balcony gave her a glimpse of a tiny part of the daily routine of ordinary lives. Very little traffic moved along the street and eventually the old woman came back from the shop, carrying her evening groceries. Life went on without drama.
As she rose from her chair and moved into the flat through the single balcony door, the evening news was on the television. Although the sound was turned down, she knew what she was looking at. Someone in a white sheet was being wheeled out of a building and into an ambulance. A young man could be seen being led away in handcuffs. This also seemed to be an ordinary daily occurrence. The banner across the bottom of the screen gave the all too familiar three digit number for people to call “if they had been affected by the issue”.
Her eyes filled as she moved her gaze to the telephone. For a moment she just wondered; then the sound of a key trying to find its way into the door of the flat. He was back early; a sure sign that the card game had gone badly and he had drowned his sorrows before staggering home. Then, the sound of the key finding its mark and the door lock opening. She looked again at the telephone but somehow knew she would never use it. As he opened the door, she knew that now, her drama would start.