The first time I saw her was in a dream, the colours were intense; the air was fall of vibrations; everything seemed magnified and slowed down. The street lamps were lit but the sky was still light. She was waiting at a bus stop. A sign said BALSAMIC although there was nothing vinegary about the place, no friars and no Gilead in sight. There were nondescript buildings in warm colours, perhaps leaning a bit, perhaps painted on canvas. She was waiting for the bus; there were obscure figures queuing behind her.
There was the sign that said BALSAMIC; the letters were sharp and clear; they riffled like rail departures but the name stayed the same. There were those shaky-looking buildings and the bus stop and there she waited, the thin woman with the straw-coloured hair, blue eyes, and pale face, unknown but seeming to look at me round the edges of my memory. Sleeping or waking, I'd never seen her before. Again and again she gestured with her clenched fist and said, 'Yes!' silently. She wanted me to follow her. Why? Here came the bus: FINSEY-OBAY, yellow, pink, and orange rice paper and bamboo lit from within like a Japanese lantern. Such a light against that not-yet-dark sky! Again she looked at me as she boarded the bus and I felt that thrill of terror as I stepped back. And again the sense of loss. What did she want? How could I find her again?
From Amaryllis Night and Day by Russell Hoban.
Soundscape co-created with the iPad App "Scape" by Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers.
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