Grumpy consumers, their stretched patience mirroring the mile-long length of stores, jostle for space amongst buskers and Big Issue sellers. As a street preacher attempts to save souls, bargain seekers strive to save pence, each so engrossed that they neglect to notice the pulsating storm cloud developing overhead.
A belligerent mother slaps a whining child, bickering lovers trade low blows, a sneaky thief pockets a wallet; all events simultaneous, all actions inexplicably paused as a subtle shift within the atmosphere makes hairs bristle upon backs of necks.
An ominous rumbling signifies a downpour; the rolling boom causing startled folk to aim their gaze at the heavens. The canopy above appears to split into two, unleashing a ferocious blizzard. As the swirling flakes descend, gasps of confusion switch to sighs of amazement as a singular truth is revealed.
It appears to be raining paper.
Thousands of fluttering pieces, all sizes and colours, drifting down towards the earth. As the first page lands, an elderly pensioner, crumpled note dancing near the end of her nose, snatches at the air. Squinting at the sheet, tightly held in her arthritic grip, her tired eyes realise that there is writing waiting to be read.
The familiar scribble raises a tear. The letter, from her father, lost in a house fire years ago, ends with a sentence made up of three simple words. It is more than enough.
The teasing breeze delivers post to all the bewildered crowd. Shopping is soon forgotten as people madly grab for the scraps, mesmerized by what they discover.
The perpetually drunk rough sleeper clamps a shaking hand across his mouth, scanning the birth certificate that states his real mother’s name.
An angry middle-aged man falls to his knees weeping, his daughters undiscovered suicide note clamped tightly to his chest.
The broken-hearted widow giggles at the long forgotten naughty polaroid; her husband, striking a pose, weeks before the cancer was diagnosed.
People begin to cry hysterically, others simply laugh out loud; some lean on the shoulders of absolute strangers, too dumbstruck to stand upright, each bewitched by their own personal miracle.
Somewhere in the centre of the chaos, a grubby faced toddler shrugs off her older brother’s hand, slipping from the loose grip of his fingers to wander in amongst the rabble. Lost in the confusion, she weaves her way to the very edge of the riot.
Stooping down close to the buckled tarmac, she scoops up some paper from the dirty gutter, frowning slightly as she scans first one side then the other.
With a puzzled shrug, she screws up the sheet, tossing it away as she retrieves another, then another.
All of them are totally blank.
Squatting by the kerb, she pulls out a cracked purple crayon from her jeans pocket, making her first bold mark on the empty expanse of the page.
Then smiles to herself, as she begins to draw a dream of an unknown future.