4: Milo And Francesca- Red Coat and Bicycle- Francesca

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Francesca waited for a few minutes to see if the young man might reappear, but only the sound of the rain and the amber light of the street light remained by the door. She finished up closing the shop for the day, put on her red raincoat, stepped outside, and locked the front door. A couple under an umbrella strolled by, laughing. Francesca went around the big chestnut tree outside the store and retrieved her bicycle. The light had broken a week before so she decided to push the bicycle along as she walked back home.

The cobblestones shimmered with the city lights and the rain. Francesca liked walking along this small street, with its cafes and tree-lined sidewalks, and she always took this way home, rather than the faster route along the big main avenue. Sometimes she liked to stop by the bakery just down the way, where the friendly old lady always reserved a freshly-baked baguette for her. They often stood talking while waiting for customers to drop by. Today, however, Francesca had finished later than usual and it was dark, so she just nodded through the window to the baker and continued on to the end of the street.

Her apartment building stood at the corner of a cul-de-sac just opposite a little park. She wheeled her bicycle up the stone ramp and leaned it against the courtyard wall. The rain sounded loud in the stairwell, an older part of the building with wooden steps that had worn away from generations of tenants’ footsteps. Francesca switched on the light at the bottom of the stairs and made her way up to the third floor, where her apartment waited.

Letters lay scattered about the floor in front of her door. Most of them were junk mail, but one was from her mother. Excited, she unlocked her front door and, ripping open the envelope while holding the rest of the mail in her teeth, she backed into the apartment and closed the door behind her. She turned on the hall light and dumped her satchel onto the kitchen table. Then she sat down and read the letter.