He sat down on the cold marble, and he waited.
Rain cascaded down the glass, rivulets and streams gliding down to cement making small lakes, forcing people to maneuver to reach the double doors and enter the hotel.
Even after all this time, his jacket still smelled faintly of his sister’s cigarettes and orange blossom perfume from when he’d taken her to the symphony. He’d asked her a thousand times to quite smoking. Now the traces of it clinging within the folds, the collar, were an anchor.He sighed and leaned back against the wall. He was tired, but he didn’t allow himself to close his eyes. He might miss it. Today was his only chance. He felt around in his left pocket, eventually pulling out a tooth pick which he put in his mouth and worried with his teeth. He hated waiting. He hated rain. He hated the feeling his heart was making in his chest, which made him hate everything, which he hated.
He inhaled deeply and adjusted the collar of his wool sweater. It was hot. The walls were covered in a rich red velvet, a fire had been stoked and patrons were gathered around it pulling mink lined gloves off their hands, giving directions to bell boys, drinking hot tea. They all spoke languages he couldn’t understand, all from a different world, a world he never should have known. And suddenly, in that moment, he knew he would give anything just to be free.
His shock of blond hair fell across his eyes, and as he brushed it aside he saw it.
Sprinting up, he overturned a serving oval carrying hot chocolate and coffee, causing the server to curse. He had also startled an exceptionally small dog who was not fond of tall men or coffee, and it began to bark fervently at him, windmilling his little legs at a tremendous speed as he strained to chase the man upsetting his calm.
Leaving behind the bustle, he had made it out the door, oblivious to everything except a yellow pair of rain boots. The revelation of color had flashed through the glass doors amid a sea of legs, and was gone. He ran out to the sidewalk and searched desperately, determined but lost in the waves of movement and rain.
From inside the hotel emanated a sound that pierced his heart, and suddenly the whole street stopped. The dog had worked himself free and sprinted for the hem of a leg pant, and was promptly run over by a bellhop cart. The ensuing wail from it’s owner, a sharp keen of pain and loss, made everyone pause. The dog turned into vapor that rose to the ceiling and disappeared. Everyone stood still for a moment, half a moment, and that was all he needed. He kept his eyes locked on a small, sleet gray cloak, and he ran. As the crowds recovered and proceeded forward, he grasped and pulled the hood back, and found himself face to face with a young girl.
She had dark, dark eyes that seemed to look through him. A small thing with black hair and sweeping eyebrows, dressed in an unassuming black dress that reached to her knees. But those boots, the yellow. He forced himself to stare into her gaze, his pulse filling his ears, and waited an eternity. But nothing could make him look away, not even her, this sentinel. He would wait forever, and she understood. She lifted her small fist up and opened it; a silver key. She blinked without expression, waiting for him. He took it. She turned around and disappeared into the bustle.
He crumpled to the ground, cradling the small key to his chest, and finally allowed himself to dream of home.