Just Another Day

There you are, leaving the flat, walking up the hill on just another day.  Striding out carrying two bags that are too heavy.  When are you going to learn?  You’ll end up with your right shoulder lower than your left – with a list like the Titanic. Pop the recycling into the bin, that’s it: ‘good girl yourself’, that’s what M. would say.  A quick glance at the window display in Lothian Cat Rescue (you’re so predictable). Walk on now, I urge you, there’s nothing in there that you can’t live without.  I take it back, about the striding, you’re sluggish today.  Someone has taken the air out of your tyres.  Is it the heat?  Ha!  You heard me and you’ve suddenly added an inch to your step.  Now I see why, you sped up for the green man – go on, break into a trot so you don’t miss him.  Why are you stopping?  You missed him!  Did you drop something?  I see, your sock slipped down under your heel.  Bloody annoying.  Disappearing socks that wrinkle on the sole, horrible; they’re footwear’s equivalent of the Princess and The Pea.  That’s the problem with those little foot socks, I’ve told you before, wear a sturdy pair that hug your ankles next time.  I know what you’re thinking.  I saw you looking at him.  Yes, him with the sunken face and hollow eyes and mouth that doesn’t quite close but hangs open, dry lips posing the perpetual question of, ‘why me?’  It’s been all over the news lately.  Scotland’s drug deaths: highest in Europe.  You’re wondering how long he’ll last.  And then you just walk on.  There’ll be more like him at the bottom of St. Mary’s, by the Sally Ann. So many days you barely notice them, but today you’re noticing – aren’t you?  Really?  Brolly up? Call that rain?  It’s hardly even a wet mist.  Put it away, into your bag before you lose it like the last one. You forgot to email Lothian Bus to chase down the one you left upstairs on the number 5.  Of course you should, they have a lost property department, you never know.  Green hummingbirds, a present from A., you loved that brolly.  C. gave you this one, it’s good too, just not as pretty: black, functional, designed to blow inside out and bounce back.  Don’t lose two within the week.  ‘You’re some cookie,’ that’s what C. would say if he found out about your carelessness.  His catch-all phrase, used both to congratulate and to chide.  Somehow it works for him.  Must be his tone of voice.  I say it and it doesn’t mean anything.  Checking your phone now.  Are you expecting something?  Someone?  A smile.  It’s broadening.  What is it?  Has someone posted a photograph of the baby on WhatsApp?  Show me! I can hear the whirring of your brain as you think up your response.  Funny how the action for composing a text is so different to that of sending it.  First, the fingers are the foot soldiers: Private so-and-so, tapping rhythmically on the screen – march, march, march.  Then, when you’re done, out comes the Field marshal who fires it off to the recipient in one commanding press.  Pow! Sent. You’re pleased with that.  Phone back in your bag, brolly too.  Someone’s put air in the soles of your shoes, topped up your oil or fixed your gears, because you’re stepping out with more purpose now.  A nod to the tourists, a smile to the older Japanese couple.  That’s right, hold back, let them through – no rush.  You think today’s bad?  Wait until the end of the week when the festivals kick off and then you’ll have to get one of those jet-powered hoverboards, like the one that Frenchman used to cross the English Channel last week.  Yes, I know he failed, but surely you could negotiate the Royal Mile on one?  Skirt over the Princes Street crowds.  Afraid of heights?  Forgot about that.  You needn’t go too high, ten feet up would do.  You’re not even listening to me; you’ve slowed right down to a stop.  The Oyster Bar?  Seriously?  That’s the last menu I would have pegged you for checking.  I bet you’re looking at the platters for two.  £80, £85 and £90.  I know, it’s madness.  That’s the price of romance, though – before wine.  A quick peep at your phone; no, nothing yet, on you go.  No green light this time, just wait with everyone else.  There’s Benedict Cumberbatch on the side of a bus. Yes, I agree, he is a peculiar sex symbol.  Gosh, you’re quick off the mark, no green man yet.  That’s the type of opportunistic pedestrian behaviour that sends drivers tut-tuting – nobody’s fault but your own if you get clipped.  What are you wrinkling your nose at?  Of course there’s a stench – that side alley serves three restaurants.  I’m sure they’ll lift the bins tonight.  Rats? Probably, just don’t think about it.  How are you doing for time?  Good.  Five minutes to spare, despite the dawdling and the chatter.  You’re some cookie.

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