Tall shadows cut triangles out of the sun washed courtyard. Your body perches at the end of a shadow, a cigarette between your fingers. They must be yellow now. Yellow like old paper – pulp that puckers the skin on your fingertips when you turn the page. You’ve been waiting for him there, on that corner, for half an hour, an hour, all your life.
The sun is cooking you – I know you hate the sun – but you sit and smoke, and lick your lips, and suck on the cigarette and smoke again. Your eyes dart from one end of the court yard to another. Every time a man walks by you arch your back, and I wish I could crush you too, like his footsteps walking away tear you down and make your shoulders slump, and make your breath punch out of your flimsy sun-dress.
It’s hours before you give up. The heat in the air drains away as the courtyard fades to black and white, and I watch you empty your last cigarette into your lungs while I pack up my gear. I’ve made a little today. Enough to watch your lips on a coffee cup, and see whether your eyes dart over me too.
“Hey, I’m done for the day – can I get you a coffee?”
It was then I realised I hadn’t seen you smile all day. All the hours I’d watched you as I played, your lips were on a smoke, or were in a straight dash across your face, like the careless flick of a biro. You smile now.
“No thanks kid. I’m waiting for someone.”