Today in Manuka

Delightful or Frightful?

Today, in Manuka, I wandered past a young man standing in the sunlight. The red shirt he wore looked brilliant against his dark skin. There was a sheen to his shaved head – perhaps sweat from an abnormally warm winter sun. He moved up and down the pavement’s edge with athleticism and would confidently lock eyes with anyone who happened to look his way. I looked and was met with eyes encased by long, thick lashes. Eyes with lucid whites and a certain warmth and challenge to them. He was beautiful. He smiled.

Smiling up at him from a seated position on the edge of the pavement was a young girl. She had long, raven-black hair pinned haphazardly to the top of her head. Her hands, hampered by talon-like acrylic nails, switched between clutching at her mobile phone and plucking at an upward-inching skirt. Her pale, wintery arms looked taught and cold. She didn’t have jacket. She shivered and stopped smiling.

I went to return the young man’s smile, but before I could he had spun round and began railing at the girl. Her head sunk between her knees but not quick enough to hide a dark and spreading blush. I was wrong, he offered no warmth.

The words he nailed into her bowed posture were base, vile and as bloody as his foul, red shirt. The sweat on his head spread, cold. He rallied to stay confident and challenging. The spring in his step, the athleticism he conveyed was not down to his fitness and youth; it was fueled by something else – something synthetic and dark. A drug. Lucid was also a mistake.

The girl said nothing. She had forgotten her skirt. Her messy, shiny hair fell forward over her hung head. She was faceless. She was also nameless. I had a hundred names for the young man who had become increasingly louder and shameless. He debased her sex and screamed the power of his. “So powerful” was his anatomy, he screamed to the empty street, “so pathetic was hers and so immense was his, that gay men would have him in a second”. He had it so wrong.

He was worthy of no one. Female, gay or otherwise. He was frightful.