Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The Punch

I followed the cobblestone path down the hill, its edges lined with clusters of flowers. The colours lifted my spirits. I felt exposed as I traipsed down the hill and I imagined anyone down in the village could see me as plain as day. It made sneaking into the place impossible. I quickened my pace and scanned the narrow lane ways that separated the village huts. Smoke drifted from chimneys and disappeared into the washed out sky. Over the water, the sun was sinking into a band of cloud that stretched over the horizon, and the windows in the huts began to glow as the villagers lit their evening lamps. 
I reached the bottom of the path where a walkway led into a narrow street lit with lamps already burning brightly.An old man pushing a cart of apples turned out of a lane and onto the street. He nodded and smiled at me as I passed. I nodded back, taking in the baggy trousers and un-tucked shirt that he wore. He was dressed as shabbily as me. The shops were all closed, some bordered up completely. They looked unlikely to ever open again.
 I crossed over the path and turned down a lane where I saw an old tavern at the end. I could hear laughter and music spilling onto the street. It was as good a place as any to get lost in a crowd. Perhaps I could find somewhere to sleep for the night. I was headed for the tavern door when a fist landed hard in my gut. I folded in half, the wind knocked out of me once again.

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