The trees were alight. A burnished, copper gold entwined around grey ash branches, kissing at the concrete shadows. The paths glowed- damp, reflecting back the late, peachy sunlight and lined with auburn trimmings courtesy of the flames.
For what it was worth, he thought it beautiful.
The houses, by contrast, were rebellious. A cluster of history: Victorian beside Georgian beside 70s semis and light stone new builds. Painted trims and doorways echoing the dying flowers in postage stamp gardens.
He walked there for the peace- suburbia offered only the teasing distraction of a twitching curtain compared to the city’s busy streets. Admittedly, he read lives in the puddles, in the length of the grass, but the deductions came to him slowly like sand through a sieve. Much preferable to rush hour. It made him want to linger, to slow his steps, and for a moment he craved the summer so that he might shed his shoes and socks and pace along the grassy verge simply for the pleasure of it.
Too much water, though, too much rain in recent days. And, he supposed, summer might give the balmy sun a different quality and it wasn’t a loss he was willing to risk. He couldn’t recall having seen sun like that since childhood- but back then everything had a candyfloss colouring. Everything before he turned seven, at least.
He didn’t remember quite when things had really gone wrong, and in a place like this in the faux firelight, he couldn’t be bothered forcing his memory back. It didn’t matter anyway- it had gone wrong, and the rest was irrelevant. A lot of things had gone wrong since, and he’d learnt quickly to recognise the difference between important details and those that were erroneous.
The important things wavered, these days.
People. People mattered. They never had before, and he’d had trouble placing them. They couldn’t be organised, prioritised, not like other things. He stopped, turned in place, in the middle of the road, feet carefully aligned along the white down the centre.
The Georgian three doors down on the left, green trim, perfectly mown grass, leaves raked, roses tended. Mycroft, all over.
The Victorian four doors down on the right. Must be Greg- it was in need of a new lick of paint, and the owner wasn’t a gardener, but it was beautiful, even in it’s disrepair.
The semi. John. Utilitarian and stable and straight. Clean lines and sharp edges, lovingly looked after and neat.
And the new build- that was Molly, surely. Dependable, airy, clean and light and fresh.
He turned on the spot, sighed, looking down the way he’d come, not really having registered what he’d passed, lips quirking as he saw a cafe on the corner, a little way in the distance, striped awning in pastel shades of pink and green. It seemed there had been something behind his comparisons- a trigger: ‘Hudson’s’ was every inch it’s namesake- a little off the beaten track and pretty as punch: Homely and inviting, even with the sign turned to ‘closed’ in the evening light.
He had them all there. Laid out on the street. Everyone that mattered.
And now all he had to do, figuratively speaking, was figure out which door he ought to knock on first.
Sherlock Holmes walked down a street in the evening sun, weaving down the middle of the road and sidestepping the dashed white line, trying to decide which side he ought to tip over. He was not the man that he had been, and he wasn’t proud of what he had become.
He had seen things, done things, lived things- things he couldn’t have comprehended before it all, and those things had made him different.
Made him brave.
He chose a door.
And he knocked.