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For N.

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The man thought he had lost something, but he wasn’t sure what it was.

Pulling up the collar of his coat, he stepped out of the front door. The wind pounced on him, caressing his blond hair like a mother who’d missed her child. He ran his hand across his chin, where the wind’s kisses stung and prickled. It felt weird to be without his beard.

He walked down the street purposefully, focusing on the sound of his footsteps echoing on the moist pavement, under the platinum grey sky. Suddenly, a woman materialised a little way ahead, walking down the street in front of him. She looked a bit like a bat in her black trench coat, and waddled comically, reminding the man of a slightly clumsy, not unkind witch.

He examined the woman. He noticed with some surprise that her coat wasn’t actually black, but shimmering with every imaginable colour, depending on the angle at which the feeble daylight reflected off of it. Her shoes, too, seemed to not really touch ground, for they made no splashes when they stepped into puddles. He looked more closely, trying to catch up with the woman despite himself.  She seemed vaguely familiar. Like a distant memory or a déjà vu, but he couldn’t put his finger on where exactly he could have encountered her before. For some reason, he thought he caught a whiff of lavender, or was it rosemary?

He picked up his pace, but wasn’t getting any closer to the shimmering black trench coated vision moving in front of him. Away from him, but with him… always a few steps ahead, leading him forwards, faster and faster.

The man broke into a run. The wind grew suddenly stronger, blocking his way so that he had to lean on it with his full weight to push his way through. Yet the woman kept moving effortlessly in front, always out of reach, never out of sight.

Then, as suddenly as she appeared, she vanished behind a corner. The man rushed to it, breathing heavily, and cursed under his breath when he saw that she had disappeared. He looked frantically around – up and down the street – but couldn’t see her anywhere. He ran his fingers through his hair in agony as the wind, now calm again, played with it gently as if in apology for its previous violence.

* * *

N. knew he had found something, but he didn’t know what it was.

Resigned, he continued walking up the street, the wind following coyly behind, whistling an innocent tune that smelled like mischief… or like a faintly familiar concoction of lavender and rosemary. N. realised that he was on the street where his friend kept a tea room. Unable to think of anything better to do at the moment, he decided to get a pot of tea. He walked briskly towards the tea room and pushed open the door, tumbling instantly into the dim and fragrant universe of his regular hangout.

He walked up to the bar to greet his old mate.

“Ah! N. You have a message here.”

“Oh, yeah?” N. picked up the crisp white envelope with his name scribbled on it in shimmering black ink. He looked at it, puzzled.

Meanwhile, the wind circled outside, howling hopelessly, frantically beating on the door of the tea room, trying to get in.


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