HANNAH CAO                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               about         books        index         ︎


from my novel, Cafe At 46 Old Street

It was nearly dark when my friends and I got out at Embankment station. The air was cold and clingy, headlights hissed towards us, the sky morphed into deep Blues, and the smell of rain from a while ago was still alive in the pavement. It may have been late summer; the city was busy again. Already at half seven the bars overspilled onto pavements outside where there was chatter and laughter, infectious. As so many other times, we looked over the Thames, into the dozen eyes of the skyscrapers. One of us said, “Can you believe every one of those lights is a different person living a different life?” That was when we became excessively aware that the people we knew so well, the ones we had just met, and the strangers with the ciders outside the pubs, and the waiters, and the tourists, and the bakers smiling at us before seven o’clock, and us—we were all living little movies.
The script writer can be mean sometimes, and other times they’re incredibly kind.
The director is moody, and sometimes the lens gets ridiculously blurry, but some shots turn out looking like paintings. Often, we think we must’ve landed in the wrong scene. Then there are moments when we can’t believe our luck. It’s funny that this realisation came to me when I felt my smallest, my most insignificant. Perhaps it’s the size of London that makes its inhabitants seem somehow smaller.
Londoners, craving connection and acceptance. Some growing old, some falling in love, some in debt, some committing adultery, some trying to get on with the world, some crying at home. Some looking forward to a pension, some flying abroad every year, and some getting married, holding babies. Londoners, wanting to escape, wanting to come back. Londoners, struggling, and missing each other, and finding one another.
This story is about four of them.
This story is a love letter.