The boys from the cathedral school sat, smoking, on the wall.
Rain attempted to obliterate the pavement and impatient water jostled in rainbow gutters. Mal stood, leaning against the wall, seething about the dampness accumulating in his shoes. He tried to count the number of times he had asked Gem not to be late. He gave up when he had used the fingers on both hands.
A group of tourists appeared in front of him. Once there, they stood and admired the spire. Their necks craned, their attention sent heavenwards. In doing so, their umbrellas crowded together and shielded the sacred stone from Mal’s baleful gaze. With his view blocked, Mal was left with the rain trickling down his face and the smell of second-hand smoke.
There had always been the suspicion that the relationship with Gem had been doomed, fluttering: an injured bird that might never fly. Mal eased himself off the wall and trickled away with the water.
Behind him, unseen, the tourists parted.
A woman stood, staring at Mal’s still-dry outline, perfectly captured on the saturated wall. The pavement that lay between her and that spot appeared vast and impossible to cross.
Her shoulders slumped. She crept away.
In the space that was left on the wall outside the cathedral, Mal’s outline began to fill with heavy drops.