After dark, the streets of London are quiet and the sky is a hazy grey. Everything but the bars and restaurants are closed and, behind fogged windows smeared with condensation, people gather. They are shadows behind the glass, mere outlines on display.
Candle flames flicker on the linen-draped tables, and a faint melody seeps from beneath the door and into the streets. Jazz music. Clattering dishes. Laughter and loud, fluid conversation—the kind that only happens when everyone has had a drink, or two.
The shadows move about the small and intimate dining room while a server carries a tray; another pours from a bottle of wine. A chef and his line cooks move swiftly behind the open counter and a woman wearing sequences hugs a mic-stand like a long-lost lover; her voice is smoke and velvet.
Outside the clouds begin to drizzle and drops of water fall softly against the window. Everyone clinks glasses of expensive champagne, taking small sips between bites of culinary magic.
I stare, my frozen nose is almost touching the wet glass. Plunging my hands deeper into my coat pockets, I steal one more glance of the world happening behind the windowpane before turning back to the quiet street—to my reality. And then I hurry along so that I don’t miss the night bus.