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A London Night This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     It is raining when we get out of“Phantom of the Opera.” Raining not in sheets, not in drops,but like a waterfall that has decided to throw itself onto the theatredistrict with the same vigor it usually reserves for touristphotographs. It is the rain London is famous for, and all 28 of us lookout into the British night with resignation, knowing that we will bewalking home. It’s a small price to pay for being in London, milesfrom home, and gaining the writing experience of a lifetime, but thatdoesn’t mean we want to get wet.

Christina starts outfirst, her dark toffee skin stark against the neon lights blurred by thewater. The drops flash and I remember a few days earlier, sitting besideher on the Thames River cruise when I asked how she knew she had asunburn. Christina had laughed, throwing her head back, straight Africanhair like ebony wings, and told me that she only knew when it started tohurt.

I follow her out into the rain, not bothering to reach formy umbrella. Rain is inspiration; it had never bothered me. It bothersSuzanne, who shakes out her sensible shoes, straightens her baseballcap, and unfolds her black umbrella. She’s muttering, in a voicelike Maya Angelou, the kind that would lull a person to sleep. The Southis in Suzanne’s voice, not just in her skin, and I make a mentalnote to tell her how nice she sounds to a girl from NewHampshire.

The doors of the theatre district are open wide, eventhough the rain is blowing in, eager to join the party. Huge men insuits and sunglasses make us shy away, even though writers are supposedto be adventurous. The shining gate of London’s Chinatown risesout of the mist like a writhing golden dragon, and Daphne stops to takepictures. Daphne is the Californian Giant, as tall as a tree and just asstrong, skin the same shade of old mahogany found in mansions, withEastern eyes and big hoop earrings. I am in awe of her, a mocha tigerprowling the very edges of reality.

I splash through a puddle,breaking apart the silvery bits that alight on its surface, ignoring thelaughter of two British boys outside a café, safe under an overhang. Iglare at them and move on. I like the rain. The dark greenery of alittle park rises up to meet us and I can see lights on the other side,street lamps so old and worn that they might have been there in the daysof Sherlock Holmes and Jack the Ripper. I remind myself that SherlockHolmes wasn’t real and that Jack the Ripper has been dead for overa century, but on a night like this it is hard to remember.

Theoverhang of our dorm appears in the gloom, just past the bright tablesoutside the pub called Scream. We all know that the drunks will be outsoon, but for now we have some peace. Up the stairs, around the silentcourtyard with a glance at the blue door three floors up, which leadsnowhere. Into our rooms, each number inscribed on a small brass plaque.Mine is number 419, and I open the door with some resignation, knowingthat my balcony, painted shut long ago, is still the closest to thestreet. When I open my window, I will hear the drunks singing, off keyand in accents I once knew only from Harry Potter movies. I stand infront of the small sink, removing my clothes soaked through withinspiration.

I wring out my shirt and fluff out my hair, pullingon flannel pajamas that remind me of home and thinking that I shouldprobably call my mother, who always wants to know what I am doing when Iam doing it. I need sleep more than my mother needs to be called, so Ilie down. I project my calm, hoping that my mother can catch mycontentedness and hold it in her hands like she held me, once upon atime.

I sleep.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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