In the early morning I went to post a parcel in the shop that stood on the crest of the hill. Standing behind lightly sweating office workers, I queued in the shadows to wait for the post-office counter to open. Behind me dappled summer sunlight danced through the windows to speckle the floor of the shadowy shop. In front of me soft electric light shone through the gaps of the shutters of the closed counter to fall in crooked lines across my body. Through these gaps I could see the clerks sipping coffee and gossiping stories, enjoying the last few seconds of leisure-time before the working day began. We expectant customers stood in our brief stripe of intransience as this muffled conversation flowed through the parcel holes, outlines of other lives winding their way through the square of light to intersect briefly with our own. A Jill was having a baby, a Sue was moving house and a Tom was thinking about divorce. I felt slightly pleased for Jill but indifferent for Sue. As I was considering Tom’s plight, the three hands of the clock converged on the number nine for the first time that day. In concordant harmony with the hands, shutters were released to shatter the silence of the shop and spread light into the shadows. Stamp went the stamp, thanks love said the clerk as I handed her some coins. I left the post-office, Tom’s predicament to rest on a moral fence in my mind for eternity.
Pleased with my early morning productivity I put some music on as I turned to walk parallel with the lines of traffic descending the hill. Their exhaust fumes entered my lungs as the drumbeats entered my consciousness to produce a heady fusion of sound and chemicals. I looked up, where was I walking again? I collected my thoughts, determining that I was in fact heading down towards the centre. As I strode downhill through the clouds of carbonised oxide, a small drop of water splashed onto my neck. I looked upwards to search for its source. Crows and ravens stared confrontationally down at me from the ash trees that lined the road. Avoiding their obsidian eyes I looked past them to where a kestrel sailed on the heated up-drafts of urban air, staring downwards at some flash of movement. Above this circling hunter a summer moon shimmered innocently in the morning blue, so faint that it disappeared in my peripheral vision. The source of the water was not apparent. I made a ‘hmmm’ noise out of habit although really I just didn’t care.
The hill flattened out into the bowl of the city as I reached the main street with its tramlines and shops. Busy shoals of late-to-work office workers darted around me leaving trails of frustration in their wakes. I strolled through this mesh of rippling equanimity, hands in pockets, unseen fingers tapping against my thigh to the rhythm of the music. Whilst one song faded into another a second drop of water landed on me, this time on my nose. I stopped to stand and stare up at the blue of the ozone as it rested in hazy slumber to gaze back at the blue of my irises. As I stood looking upwards with my hands on my hips, the buzz of activity around me faded to a dull hum. A cloud-white seagull glided at the far periphery of my vision, so tiny that it faded in and out of the blue. The ghostly pearl of the summer moon shimmered behind it. Suddenly an eel-like tram, ten feet tall, roared out of the ground to thunder past me inches away from where I stood. Faces peered out of the windows, panes of dirty glass separating their noses from the tips of my teapot elbows. I stepped back and the new song died as the earphones fell out of my ears. A young passenger laughed at my startled look, his open mouth fading into the angle of the window as the tram slid away. I wiped the drop of water from my nose and turned around.
© 2012 Thomas Halvë