The sun was not yet up. The street was empty. No roaring automobiles, no cursing mothers dragging their kids around, no noise of blacksmith’s saw; not even the neighborhood beggar. No sign of life yet.
The mystical music composed by raindrops striking tin gutters and windowpanes were all. Rain masterfully played any tune ears yearned to hear.
On either end of the narrow street, little roundabouts mark cross sections like the city stamps. The aroma of the lamb restaurant filled the air. Tongue-less lamb heads were elegantly arranged in a serving dish on the counter inviting the hungry passersby.
Further down the street was a bakery. The blazing red flames of the oven welcomed the end of a cold night. Two bakers worked in concert; one sliding the raw dough into the
oven and the other pulling the brown flat bread out. Their body movements in perfect harmony with the rhythmic melody of the rain.
Four factory workers appeared, buried deep in their overcoats, waiting for the company bus; stood motionless against the wall as if waiting for a firing squad to shoot. As the bus approached, they stretched their necks like waking turtles.
Every day at this hour, the long-handle broom of the street cleaner could be heard and when he approached, a cloud of dust surrounded him like the aura the saints. But today there was no sign of him; the sweeping task was given to rain.
A young man walked toward the intersection, his hands hidden in his pockets. His splashing steps interrupted the cadence of rain. His toes were freezing as the ice water flooded his shabby shoes; hiding his head in the collar of his coat breathing inside to save his body heat.
As a child he wove rugs in his village, then he herded sheep and a few years later he came to the city to work as a day laborer. And now he was sitting on the banisters waiting for the employers. Whenever a truck stopped; a handful of workers anxiously swarmed and climbed in the bed. The boss got out and the hiring process started. He meticulously examined the workers and picked seven or eight for the day’s work. The rest had to wait for the next truck. The older, the slender, and the pale ones got off first. The young man wasn’t worried, he always had a job.
The rain was pouring and as he was slouched on the truck plunged in a reverie, thinking of where he worked the last two weeks; the house he left his heart behind. A house surrounded by towering walls with high ceilings decorated with more mirrors than shrines and windows large enough to swallow all the sunlight at once.
He stood outside one of those massive windows in a pausing moment from work in the yard when he first saw her inside. She was peering out, above him and into the sun as if looking at herself in a mirror carelessly toying with sunbeams with a wisp of her hair, challenging the beauty of sunshine with her own.
The young woman was unaware of his gaze, as if he was not there at all, standing just a few steps from her. She stood on a pristine rug in a white dress, a tantalizing contrast to the dark crimson flowers of the rug underneath her feet. Perhaps the same rug he had worked on as a child in sweatshops, the same intricate weaving that took away most of his eyesight.
As she pranced across the meadow of the rug, for a moment their gaze locked; the young man found his soul in a casual glimpse and forever lost it in her indifference.
When the frozen needles were striking his face the young man in trance was thinking of light, crystal, and mirror.