The Blue Hour

The Blue Hour
The Blue hOUR

Today again she will flick her fag butt in the gutter and walk off down Cleveland Street in the half light. She stands under a purple umbrella, wearing an oversized cardigan like a halfhearted hug. She smokes in a casual way, more concerned with the text she’s sending. The hand holding her cigarette hangs off to the side. Her forearm leans from the elbow, which rests on an imaginary point in mid-air, like she was offering a smoke to passers-by, but she seems oblivious to the rest of the street, only acknowledging them to check no one sees her flick away the fag.

Under the pretence of doing stock takes, I’ve watched sunsets all winter from this third story window. She’s only showed up this past week. I don’t know if she’s coming or going, but a side of me is convinced she’s leaving work. However weak the light is now, by the time I leave here in an hour it’ll be pitch black. It will be the same every day until the clocks change in March, but I watch the evening grow with every sunset. It feels closer. This morning from my office, I watched the reflection of the sun crawl across the wide glass front of the building opposite ours. I couldn’t even see the real sky. That sight seems so distant now, in these last gasps of day, so dark I’d call them night in the summer.

I’m so jealous she gets this last residue. I spit at her, a strike like a cobra, that only people with gaps in their teeth can do. It’s on target, but the wind seems to fragment it before it’s even out the window. Rain dilutes the spit further, so that, no matter how much remains, when it breaks the protective force field cast by her umbrella, even if one drop made it from my mouth to her face, I couldn’t claim it as a victory. We do not share the light. I do not extend beyond this dark office.

Gerard McKeown is an Irish Writer living in London. His work has featured in 3:AM, Fuselit, and Neon, among others. His story Dunvale was highly commended in The Moth's 2015 Short Story Competition, and his story The Longest Nickname in the World was longlisted for Over The Edge's New Writer of the Year award.

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