The Origami Girl
She was listening for a motorcycle that never came.
It was getting late and rather cold and a midriff-baring black T-shirt was no longer enough, for all its weight in glitter. The girl shivered and wrapped her arms around herself. She had a small heart-shaped face half-hidden under a dishevelled mass of bubblegum pink hair; her lips were inexpertly smeared with strawberry gloss, by now mostly rubbed away, her pointed nose sunburned to match. Folded up like an origami girl against the wall under the aluminium awning, just out of a disheartening drizzle, she was watching the raindrops melt against the fluorescent lights of the supermarket parking lot, pooling, shining in the gutter at her feet. They blazed brighter before they died.
A sweet wrapper bobbed past, floating towards the drain, and the girl reached over automatically to fish it out. She looked at it blankly for a moment, this fragment of enticingly patterned foil. Her restless fingers folded its edges inward, twisting it into a new shape. When she was finished there was a violet and silver beetle on the palm of her hand.
Its tiny feet scritched softly against her skin.
She put it down, very carefully, on the ground beside her and looked around. She was sitting quite close to a rubbish bin and things had overflowed from under its broken lid to puddle on the pavement around like the pools of rainwater. There was a white paper napkin, barely used and still dry. The evening breeze nudged it closer to the girl’s hand.
She held it for a minute, until it was warm from her hand, then began to shape the paper as she had shaped the foil, folding, refolding, creasing and smoothing. When she held it up to see what she had made, she was holding a small white bird, slashed by a streak of red lipstick wiped along one wing. Hurt, but fluttering bravely in the wind. Ready to fly.
The girl blew on it gently. The paper bird flapped its wings, lifting off her palm, swooping in an uncertain arc towards the underside of the awning. She tipped her head back as far as she could to watch. The bird’s red-streaked wing grazed the edge of the awning and then it was gone, out into the night and the last drips of the passing rain.
When the girl laughed, her braces sparkled with coloured studs as though she had been eating the Crown Jewels. A night rainbow under the supermarket lights. She put her beetle safely into her pocket before it could disappear down a crack in the pavement and stood up to follow the paper bird into the rain-bright street.
It was waiting for her.