Arabella blew into her hands. Her fingers tingled, the tips blue. Damn, should’ve worn my gloves, she thought as she lifted her head to check the road.
The road was busy. It was peak hour. A tram clunked down the street, cars backed up behind it, their glowing headlights beaming through the darkness. Rain teemed down, hard and diagonal.
‘Fuck,’ Arabella cursed, fighting the urge to dart home to shelter and warmth.
A break in the traffic, finally. Arabella leapt across the road, careful to avoid puddles in the tram tracks, then again in the gutters. There had not been a downpour like this one for years; the roads were slippery and the gutter system didn’t appear to be coping with its job of whooshing the rainfall into its channels. On the other side of the road, Arabella jumped a metre from the lane to the footpath. The murky brown puddle was littered with cans, plastic bags, a wallet, and someone’s random shoe. She headed under the shops’ verandahs for shelter. It was no use, the rain was pelting at her. She turned her back to the painful, yet massaging rain and blew into her hands again.
‘Fuck,’ she repeated. A passer-by glared at her. She glared back.
The restaurant she was looking for was a few doors up. Arabella ran the last few metres. She opened the door; the bell above chimed a welcome. Glancing around, Arabella saw there were few diners scattered about. No bloody wonder, on a night like this. Only desperate souls like me come out in this weather. Wait staff leaned on the bar along the back wall, eyed her entrance. One of them pushed himself off the bar and made his way to her, arranging a smile halfway.
‘Welcome to Le Petit Chateau. Let me take your coat.’ It was dripping water onto the tiled floor. ‘Do you have a reservation?’ the waiter continued.
‘Would I need one?’ Arabella asked, with cutting sarcasm to her tone and a pointed look around the restuarant.
The waiter raised an eyebrow. ‘No madam, tonight you do not need a reservation. But do you have one anyway?’
‘Yes, under Markham. Arabella Markham.’ She smiled tautly.
‘Right this way, please.’
Arabella followed him to the table. She turned icy-cold when she recognised a familiar shape, reclining lazily in the chair, sipping a glass of red. She was about to turn and make a run to the door, when the shape spoke.
‘Don’t even think about running, Arabella.’
*Written in response to ragtag daily prompt, Blue, and in a short timeframe between tweaking my manuscript (gah!) and heading out for an appointment. I don’t want to let this story go, yet I have no idea who is at Arabella’s table, nor what is to become of her. Interested to hear your suggestions and ideas.
Have a great day!