His job was pretty dull and monotonous, but Mark preferred the office to his flat in Oven Street anyway. His neighbours were noisy and unpleasant. Every time he tried to explain the importance of his work, they looked down on him as a low-level clerk. They failed to understand that they got their mail only because Oven Street had its postal index in one of the files in the City Hall.
Once Mark’s peaceful life was disturbed. He opened one of the drawers in his study and found an index card stuck at the back. He drew it out carefully. Green Bottle Street it said. Mark stared at it in wonder. He could not remember any street with that name. He searched all the files but could not find anything. It was not on the list.
Mark examined the card once more. There was no mistake. The paper was old and yellow. The last inspection date marked on the card was more than fifteen years before. Mark was frozen with horror. It was a lost, forgotten street! For so many years it had existed a mile away from the Hall, and nobody knew about it.
Deep in his heart, Mark sometimes had thought of such a possibility. There were so many winding streets in the city that it looked like a labyrinth. But with all these files it simply could not happen. Vaguely he remembered that at the beginning of his career his office had moved to another floor and all the cards were made afresh. Maybe at that time one of the cards had got stuck in the drawer.
Mark slept badly that night. In the morning he put the card in his pocket and went looking for Green Bottle Street. Though he knew its location, he passed it twice. Finally, he came up to a wooden door, behind which a narrow street started. He opened the door and stepped inside. Green Bottle Street lay before him.
It was named after its shape. On either side of the street there were three well-kept houses with nice, small gardens in front. At the end of the street there was a brick wall, which separated it from the rest of the world. Everything there was quiet and safe. An old woman was watering roses in one of the gardens.
She told Mark that they used to pay taxes and get the mail until they were forgotten. Then they built a wooden door with a lock to protect their tiny peaceful area from passers-by and officials. They helped people who got tired of the busy city and wanted to take a break for a while. Some rooms in the houses were for rent.
Mark understood that the yellow card he had found in the drawer could break people’s peaceful but fragile world. He sighed and tore the card to pieces. For all he cared, Green Bottle Street could remain lost forever.