Lady in Grey

By Gill James

Location: St Peter’s Square

Christina de Vries checked her watch. Nine thirty. With luck, she would be home by ten. The students’ showcase had gone well. She was pleased, but she’d be happier still when she got home. This was Manchester and it was a Friday night. She hoped the tram would come soon. She was a bit anxious about the short walk from the station in Radcliffe as well: she’d not been able to get on the car park earlier.

The tram must be due soon. There was quite a crowd on the platform. Every twelve minutes they were supposed to be.

One of the youths who were waiting at the far end of the station started singing Chris de Burgh’s Lady in Red. He’s got a good voice, thought Christina. He was actually singing it better than Chris de Burgh did, she reckoned.

Except he wasn’t quite singing the right words.

‘Lady in grey,’ he crooned. ‘You’ve never looked as old as you do tonight, I’ve never seen your hair so almost white, I’ve never seen so many men look so askance, running if they’d get half a chance…’

Cheeky bugger, thought Christina.

Well, she wasn’t having this. Even if she had got a very significant birthday coming up soon. Loads of people had asked her if she had highlights put in her hair. She was very happy with how the grey was just in the right places and looked almost blond. She was still very brunette in places. But she was wearing a grey coat and scarf. She supposed he had a point.

She looked at the other people standing on the platform. They averted their eyes, embarrassed, apathetic.

I’m not having this, thought Christina.

What to do, thought, what to do? Should she phone the Police? No, that was probably over the top.  Should she confront him? No, that would probably make it worse and be even more embarrassing. She looked at the young woman standing next to her on the platform. The woman looked down at the ground and half-turned away from her.

Right, thought Christina. I’m going to do this thing.

He had a really nice voice. Baritone she thought. So, he was singing a bit lower than a tenor. Pity, she was a tenor. But she couldn’t get down quite that low. Could she find the harmony? She thought she could.

He was on the second run through of the song. ‘I’ve never seen that jacket you’re wearing,’ he sang, ‘or the highlights in its folds that catch your hair. I have been blind.’

She had the harmony in her head. Now all she had to do was sing it. She took a deep breath.

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