There was a woman at the window. Broad shouldered and amber, black tresses of long flowing hair, kissing her waist, stroking her back. Coffee brown eyes, delicate and melting, stared at the world outside, sweeping glances down the ruined street.
The little boy on the pavement hoped her eyes would land on him. He had balloons tied to his thumb, his face was impish and covered with snot. He swayed on his feet, feigning he was a balloon himself as he looked up at that girl, so beautiful, so majestic.
Between the girl’s fingers was a thin white cigarette, grey ringlets of smoke disappearing from her mouth into the cold air. How fascinating it was! How magnificent a picture that girl was – dreamy and careless, evaporating with the cold towards a farther more handsome life.
The little boy stood with his balloons, cold and feverish, a mischievous smile dancing at the corner of his lips. How blissful it must be to smoke, how tremendously gratifying to see those circles of smoke fly out of your mouth, and disappear with the air, your thoughts in the air, your heart in the air.
A diamond tear was trickling down the woman’s cheek, her hands trembled slightly as they held on to the cigarette, her shoulders quivered with suspended grief. She was like crystal, beautiful when broken.
The boy whistled a dancing tune, his neck arched up, his eyes on the window. The daylight played on his face, dissected patterns of liquid gold on his cheek; a cherub beneath the window, with love in his eyes.
The girl thought it was birdsong – that whistle of that boy – her head shot up, a force so majestic, it scattered the calm of the somnolent afternoon on the boy’s upturned face like the ashes from her cigarette. The boy whistled again, little boy of eight, whistled with all his heart.
The woman turned, slowly this time, her earrings trinkling by her neck. Her eyes fell on the little boy, the cherub with gold on his face. The imp with balloons for a thumb.
The boy let a balloon lose – a yellow one – bright as the sun of a draught rotten land. He watched the woman watch as the balloon flew slowly up, to the window of the god woman, the broken, beautiful goddess.
And when the balloon was close enough, the woman let out a dark slender arm and let her fingers close around the taut string of a sun balloon, drifting lazily down the afternoon sky.
A smile flickered in her eyes.
The whistling boy went on his way.