Between the Nettles and the Laurel
Between the nettles and the laurel I will wait for you.
As the pale sky bleeds into dusk making shadows and silhouettes of the world until all I can see is the penumbrous outlines of buildings in the distance, the red of the sky and the deep green of the leaves before my eyes.
I am camouflaged here amongst the dense foliage, in my green jumper left over from the grunge rock days of my youth. A faded acrylic, torn at both cuff and hem, still smelling of cheap cigarettes and vodka after all these years. It is my security blanket, a constant from my past to my present, reminding me of who I was and where I’ve been. An evolution from the heady exuberance and optimism of youth to the person I am now. Someone I never thought I’d be.
I am hidden here, set back from the street, protected by a web of stem and leaf as early October rain starts to fall. I am unnoticed by the home-time commuters hurrying past me to their sanctuaries, barricading their doors against the cold and the dark with lamps and heat and well-cooked meals. I don’t exist to them. I am a nonentity, the only suspicion of my presence being a faint rustle in the leaves on the rare occasions I move. A noise immediately dismissed by those who register it as early evening autumnal breeze.
I am quiet here as the chill of the night starts to permeate my boots and settle in my toes. I shift position, my muscles cramping in the small space I allow myself to take up. The movement is nothing more than a stronger gust of wind through the undergrowth. Not enough to disturb the passers-by but enough to startle a blackbird who glares at me in disgust with his beady eye. An eye rimmed with orange and luminescent against black feathers and fast approaching darkness. I glare back, defiant, for this is my place, our place, nestled amongst the laurel and nettles. Not the most hospitable of places but that was part of our intention. A place no one else would want and not many would even notice, a place entirely of our own.
I peer out from the undergrowth, through the leaves and beyond the shadowy buildings to the first stars blinking into visibility, tiny pinpricks in the darkening sky. I allow my eyes to lose their focus, the faint constellations blurring and becoming indistinct as I recall another time and place, away from the sharp night air and the bitter smell of the earth. My muscles relax, the tension ebbing away as memories form in my mind. A smile plays across my lips even as tears prick the backs of my eyes.
I remember the last time we spoke, the way the afternoon sunlight caught the red in your hair setting it aflame like a beacon, a beacon calling me to you. I remember the catch in your voice and the coldness of your hand as your skin touched mine. We talked for hours without ever saying anything at all, using small talk as a defence against that which we were too afraid to say until the moment we parted. You kissed me softly, your lips slightly warmer than your hands, and spoke with passion for the first time that day. ‘Wait for me,’ you whispered in my ear as we embraced, ‘between the laurel and the nettles, wait for me.’
So here I am and here I’ll stay. Between the nettles and the laurel I’ll wait for you.