Screeching tires, hooting motorists and screams before everything went up in smoke with a clamorous thud reverberated through my mind. The glimpse of a diamond ring still fixed in its box brought tears to my eyes as I visualized it on her delicate finger – something which I had been planning several weeks prior to her twenty fifth birthday. I sat against the wall cogitating the series of unfortunate events, it’s coldness a reminder of gloomy days and lonely nights to follow. Flashbacks recurred. “Your future is a bright one” she would insist with a toss of her long auburn hair and a sparkle in her deep set hazel eyes. I believed every word my fair skinned beaut had ever spoken, but now that she was gone, it was difficult, almost impossible, to visualize a future, let alone a bright one. My inspiration, motivation and pillar of strength was gone. My sphere had foundered. Clattering cutlery and honking horns announced the return of routine in the north west region of England. Swinging doors followed by footsteps and chattering clients, most of which were businessmen, got the waitresses parading. Bella Italia, named after Manchester’s first citizen to proficiently master the art of Italian cuisine, now houses a million memories. I started off here as a barman 4 years ago with a purpose of paying off my studies as a linguist, serving Martinis and Spritz whilst familiarizing myself with the regulars – one of them being Brittany, an introverted girl who never mixed observations with her perceptions. Subtle shades of blue and green used together as a color scheme reminded me of the first time we met. Her cream colored dress glittered under the light from our chandelier, catching my attention. “Could I get a refill on this please?” she had politely asked, handing me the jug. She didn’t know it then, but this was the girl my heart had instantly ardently been desiring. Memories floated. Scents lingered. “Excuse me, sir?”. I spun around in awe, facing my red headed PA. “Just a reminder that your next meeting is at 10 this morning.” I nodded and briefly headed out the doorway.
It was a usual Monday that followed , running the rat race everyone dreaded. There were lots different this week though, for when I returned home, there were no sounds of bubbling coming from the kitchen, no aroma of the scrumptious dinner that would’ve followed and Brittany was no longer there to flash me a smile as I walked into our beautiful apartment. After nibbling on a piece of leftover pizza from the night before, I wandered outside as a cool breeze swept across the front lawn.
Manchester had become my home in the month of July, 2009. I was born and brought up in Southern Africa and decided to move after extensive research. According to my parents predictions, things wouldn’t be the same in the next few years and had advised that I start my life somewhere better. With that, I flew out of the country and didn’t return ever since. It was difficult. A foreign land, foreign people, foreign traditions, however, I couldn’t complain about the foreign currency. Now, as I walked along the pavement, not only did I realized how much I had adapted here but also how much I missed home. The past few years turned out to be quite a roller coaster. From bar tending to stock control, Brittany and my addiction in the midst of linguistic studies. Snapping out of my daziness, I halted, frowning and took a look around, sniffing. Shadows of a few human figures lurked from behind the huge palm tree and whiffs of smoke were evident. I stepped towards my right, closer, hearing the crackling of crisp Autumn leaves underneath my Puma sneakers with the aim of finding out what was going on back there but remembering my awful past, I turned around and rushed back home.
The only sounds coming from the apartment were those of the buzzing from our new portable air conditioner and a gentle whizzing of the bar fridge. Flipping through the television channels, I tried hard not to think about tonight’s occurrence but I couldn’t help but wonder who they were, what they smoked and why they hid. Were they …. addicts?