Short Story: Night Life

She waited by the side of the road. Umbrella in hand, water dripping all around her feet. The New York lights were blurred by the storm, almost like some sort of post-apocalyptic world. Maybe she could pretend that she was in Tokyo.

A cab came by. Those yellow cars still running late into the Tuesday night. She hailed one down.

She got in, quickly putting taking off her coat and pulling down her umbrella. She noticed the driver taking a quick glance her way. She thought that her appearance could only be described as bland. She donned only plain, straight brown hair tied back into a bun paired with dull brown eyes and pale skin.

“What you are doing out so late, miss?” The cab driver asked. “Shouldn’t you be sleeping?”

“It’s fine. I’ll sleep when I’m dead,” she roused.

The cab driver shrugged. “So, where you are going tonight?”

“Just to 12th Avenue please.”

The driver nodded and took off.

“Anything exciting been happening recently?” he questioned.

“Not really. I’ve just been working a lot.”

“Ah, is that why you’ve been out drinking tonight then miss,” he laughed. “Perhaps with a special man of your own?”

God, he was chatty, she thought.

But she laughed in response, “No! No! No man,” while waving her hands around in the air.

The driver laughed back, “Don’t worry miss! I’m just messing with you. I wouldn’t want to offend you if you have a special lady in your life either!”

“Well that’s awfully nice of you,” she hummed.

God, what a drag, she thought.

“Shame you didn’t find someone nice though at one of those bars,” the driver continued. “My wife and I have been married almost 30 years now. Couldn’t imagine my life without her. We met at a bar around here too! I started chatting to her and within ten minutes she told me I had a terrible taste in décor!”

“Your wife sounds pretty fun,” she replied.

“She’s a blast! I’m always surprised how much passion can fit into such a small body, she barely comes up to my shoulders without heels,” he chuckled. “But don’t worry dear! I’m sure one day you’ll find someone! Doesn’t have to be anytime soon though, love tends to work in mysterious ways after all…”

“That’s all good,” she responded. “I’m more focused on work and paying the bills at the moment. I rarely event talk to anyone nowadays.”

“How nice to be so determined!” the driver cheered. “But loved ones do tend to be what makes life that little bit extra special. Maybe you should try calling one of your family or friends who you haven’t talked to in a while. Check in with them.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” she murmured.

Eventually, they arrived at her destination. She handed over the cash to the driver, “Thank-you for the ride.”

“No problem love,” he said. “You sure you’ll be alright out there in the rain?”

“Definitely. I just live around the corner,” she smiled.

“Well take care of yourself then!” the driver called as she exited the car.

She gave a final wave to him as he screeched off. “What an idiot…” she sighed.

She started walking down the straight and turned the corner. She looked around and scanned the streets for anyone out and about still before going down an alley way to a set of apartment bins. She looked around again, confident that no-one is in sight. Not even the homeless stayed out during a storm like this and were probably trying to find a warmer shelter at facilities.

She went around to the backside of the bin and pulled out a pair of gloves from her bag. She took out a lighter and held it against the gloves until they caught alight, watching as they burned. She was grateful for the stormy weather masking the smell of smoke – not that anyone would have paid attention to it anyway.

She thought about how this alleyway was a lot better than the one she used earlier. The other was only a few streets away from a hub of bars, and she had to be a lot more cautious when disposing of her other shit. She had wanted to do it in a location that made up a more realistic reason why she was up so late when catching a cab. “Perhaps it wouldn’t have mattered though,” she reflected. “This is the city that never sleeps.”

She watched her gloves burn, thinking about how after people die, they can be burned too. About how pointless it all was to search for something more meaningful. Cause and effect. That’s all life was. Be rude to a person, they’ll turn against you. Work, have money to survive. Cause and effect. Simple.

Once the gloves had dissolved into enough ash, she propped the bin lid open with her elbows. She chucked the remains away.

She then turned around and made her way back to the beginning of the alleyway, before looking around again. With final certainty that no-one was around, she kept walking. Away from this block and on towards the next.

“It’s ethereal,” she thought, “Feeling like I have the whole city to myself.” She kept walking. “Maybe I could take a nap once I get home.”

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