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It was raining. The kind of rain that bounces back up off the ground, the kind of rain the soaks through however many layers of clothes you wear to stop it. The rain that seemed to have no effect on the lonely man, sat by himself on the park bench, wearing only torn jeans and a drenched t-shirt. His cold stare never faltered as the watery barrage attacked him, and if the onslaught had any effect on him, he wasn't letting it show. Occasionally the odd person would pass by, either sheltered by an umbrella or wrapped up in layer upon layer, and hardly any one of these people cast much more than a judgmental sideways glance at the man.
He sat there for hours. By now he was starting to shiver, the freezing rain had broken through his defences at last, but his fixed, cold stare remained. Passersby now offered sympathetic glances, but no more than that. The busy people of the city had no time to offer kindness. Friendliness was a quality that was not passed out freely by these people.
A shadow passed over the man, the rain stopped too. His gaze didn't shift, but he saw a single drop fall from his drenched hair. A fuzzy noise interrupted his silent brooding, before silence overcame the man. Another noise, this time more recognisable to the man, a voice. Comforting, worried, feminine. A concerned question, a soft hand caressing his back, an offer of kindness. The man nodded his head, without words accepted her offer, and he rose from his bench as she tugged his shirt.
On the journey, the woman asked many questions, but only received the odd nod or shake of the head from the man. After awhile, the woman resorted to silence, deciding to get him comfortable before picking up the questioning, the attempt to find the problem that was troubling this mysterious man.
The man looked up from the pavement that he had been staring at for the entire venture, to see an open doorway, a beckoning hand. He stepped inside as the woman closed the door, hanging up her coat before offering the shivering man a seat, a warm drink, some new clothes, a shower, honest hospitality. He accepted with a nod of his head.
She took his crumpled pile of clothes while he showered, arranged him a fresh set of clothes out in the guest bedroom, and went downstairs to dry his clothes and make him a drink, with only a flicker of doubt about what she was doing, as she questioned herself for been naive enough to let in a stranger.
He tilted his head up for the first time, letting the warm jets of water cleanse him. He stood there a long time, letting the water wash over his tired body. His brain ached, he rubbed his temples, trying to massage the tension that was locked inside his tortured skull.
Silence fell through out the house as the shower was turned off, only a patter of rain could be heard upstairs as the man tread slowly to the guest bedroom to get changed. The woman heard the door shut from downstairs and stirred the man's coffee, waiting patiently for her guest. She drummed her fingers and imagined scenarios to pass the time.
The coffee had gone cold. The woman didn't want to push the troubled stranger, but she was worried. She gently padded up the stairs and called out. No answer, so she pushed open the bathroom door. Nothing. She turned to see the guest bedroom door slightly ajar, so she crept forwards, before calling out again. Nothing. Each step was gentle, soft and silent, until she reached the door and knocked lightly, afraid to break the silence that had followed her guest into her home. He didn't reply, so she timidly pushed the door open.
He was sat in the same pose she had found him in; sat with that same cold stare, looking lifeless and without a cause. The woman moved closed, asking unheard questions with her concerned voice. She sat next to him, put an arm around his waist and whispered to him, reassuring words that the man took in, grasped them and used them to sooth his thoughts. She talked for a long time, neither cared to think of how long they sat there, two strangers having a deep one-sided conversation.
She was finding it hard to draw words of meaning from her mind now, as the reassurance had taken them deep into the night, and he words looked lost upon the man. She sighed, she whispered a night time farewell and kissed his cheek. She drew back slowly, studying his face, as he turned to look at her. His face said a thousand words, even if he had not spoke one. He was a broken man, he had suffered, and he had lost something that he thought he could not ever replace. He looked deep into the woman's eyes, searching for something she could not place, then spoke. His croaky whisper met the silence like an old friend, embracing each other as if they were meant to be.
"I lost someone today."
She hugged him and he hugged her. And that embrace lasted until both fell asleep, watched through the window by the distant stars and the mysterious moon.