Each day, he looks closely for a glimmer. A speck. Just a mere hint. Driving past, morning and evening, his hope becomes almost prayer-like, and he tells himself, It won't be long, It won't be long, like a mantra.
Green. Green is what he's looking for.
In the mornings, his eyes still seem unfocused in the semi-darkness. Behind the steering wheel, reversing to the symphony of the final creaking notes of the garage door opener, a kind of roller coaster prelude, his mind begins to warm up as he enters the throng of day-break traffic. His body starts pumping caffeine to essential stations that ignite and commence functioning.
Simultaneously, he tries to forget the harried bleeping summoning him from a deep and unsatisfying sleep only fifteen minutes earlier and the fact that he'd only crawled into that dark, luxurious place a few hours before. He attempts to neutralise his feelings about the vision of his wife's sleeping figure, warm and beautiful, but clearly beyond disturbance and therefore distant, both before he entered sleep and after he woke.
His manoeuvring is almost automatic and as he glides down a wide street, possibly wide enough to be thought an avenue, he allows his eyes to slide briefly, first left, then right.
Confused by the edge of excitement he feels, he almost wants to chastise himself for being childish and to tell himself to grow up - like he might say to his teenage son. But that doesn't dismiss the feeling.
A semi-lifetime later, in the premature darkness of dusk, despite the weariness of his saturated mind and the numbness of a day where every moment has been a meeting or a micro-managed act or long hours of an eye-drying screen, he still looks, both left and right, his eyes jarring from the action.
Every morning and evening his mind changes gear as his eyes dart to the branches and he scans the silhouettes of slender trunks and outstretched arms. He looks closely for a glimmer. A speck. Just a mere hint. Reluctantly, he drags his eyes back to the road.
This night, with the sky a mosaic of lilac and burnt orange, hope wells within as he scans the trees in the dying dusk. He hopes that in the deep shadows he will glimpse just the hint of a bud on the deciduous trees that line the roadside.
For a bud can't be denied. It is proof that the joyless winter will be sent packing. Proof that time is moving. Marching even. That tedium will not, cannot, rule forever.
That stress will one day ease its incessant screaming. That there are good things to look forward to. And those good things are almost within reach.
His mind drifts on to thinking about the good things as he drives.
The wafting smell of a meal cooking when you walk through the door, tired and strung out. The crazy jubilance of a dog upon hearing the key in the door. The sound of your wife laughing. The upturned corners of a teenage mouth. The gentle breathing heat of comfort.
The alarming blast of a discordant chord jolts him from his thoughts. In an instant he realises he's crossed partly to the wrong side of the road. He yanks at the steering wheel.
Thought instantly evaporates. Instinct is all that remains. He over-corrects and is blinded by a wall of white in the direction he's headed. He is made both sightless and gifted with the ability to see the whole thing.
Everything slows. And yet. There's no time to react.
The white blur becomes a vehicle that somehow, impossibly, magically even, appears to move past him. He notices his ragged breathing. There's a blur beating in his ears.
He wonders if he's safe now - doesn't trust himself. His body still can't believe it. He's trembling.
He slowly becomes aware he's back on the right side of the road, but then realises he is only inching forward. The one horn-blast has become a cacophony; a bleating of frustration that evokes a shaking of his blood.
That green bud means lazy days and blue sky; patchwork clouds.
It takes some time, hours possibly, but more likely several seconds, but eventually he increases the pressure of his foot on the accelerator. He manages to force air into his lungs. His eyes prickle but he registers that he's alive. Alive. His body resumes its mechanical functions.
But he also registers something else. Something bursting with truth. He saw it and it was undeniable.
A miracle as common as life.
Just a rumour, really. But a rumour that tomorrow will be a statement and the day after will be a fact.
He smiles. Laughs loudly.
That green bud means lazy days and blue sky; patchwork clouds. Sea breezes and the time to marvel at the world just outside your door. To take a simple walk. To be reminded of the marvellous feeling of sitting close to someone. Or to wonder at the adventurous spirit of a soul prepared to throw itself off a cliff top and into invisible currents of air.
That green bud means losing time as you stare at the ocean and the ripples of surrounding space.
It means hearing the squawk of gulls and seeing the amphibious movements of humans riding the lines of the ocean.
It means that time can slow down. That there's a chance for life to be enjoyed. Enjoyed in a city about to burst with the buds of a summer of plenty. Even for just a little while.