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  from The Hollow by Trudi Hauxwell   

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The Hollow

There was an empty space across the street where the girl once stood. It wasn’t a particularly interesting piece of pavement, squeezed between a pub and a betting shop, sticky with old chewing gum and cigarette butts. An ordinary London street. It had been the girl who’d made the space beautiful, but now she was gone and the pavement was just a pavement again.

Every day for a year she’d stood there, raven curls protected from the rain by a yellow knitted hat, her slim figure wrapped in an army coat two sizes too big. She’d played her guitar for money. From mid-morning to mid-afternoon, the sounds of Flamenco filled the narrow street and Vadis, sitting outside his favourite coffee shop had listened and dreamed. There was a tube station a few hundred feet away and he’d wondered at first why she didn’t play there, but commuters lived in a world of their own, with their headphones and their distant stares. Her music was wasted on them. The drunks and the gamblers were her audience instead, unlikely appreciators of the sublime.

No-one knew her name. He’d asked around but no-one could recall talking to her. She was just the girl with the guitar, the girl with green eyes, the girl whose mystery had captivated him. Perhaps she didn’t speak English. On the few occasions Vadis had plucked up the courage to cross the street and drop a few coins into her guitar case, she’d merely smiled shyly and played on. It was a smile he would have emptied his bank account for. He’d followed her home one evening. Even in a London crowd she was easy to track for a man with his skills. Her guitar case, strapped to her back, bobbed back and ...

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