Friday, May 25

No More Floods

I LOOK UP and I ask myself – what happened to the floods? One moment they were there, muddy and abysmal, now there is no trace of them. The grass they drowned is as green as the grass on the tops of the hills. This county! so big and so flat, even its greatest hills appear as nothing more than creases on a made bed. Yet they fade into the distance as summery mists lay about. The sun returns from the south; an extended holiday, no doubt, in the Algarve; back with a dismissive wave to spring; forcing upon all of us the intense heat of summer; and, here, the floods rose up and wet the air and drove everyone to proclaim ‘muggy’ on street corners. Muggy. Muggy. They repeat it over and over. The muggy air that dampens starched shirts on the morning commute. The sun is back.
The sun is back and has been back for three days now. It has made its mind up. Just watch the children playing on the street. They kick footballs along the pavement.
The sun is back and presenting me with gifts. I feel my mind lift. Such dark thoughts that gnawed me before evaporated with the floods. Look, this very evening the sun offered me a peace offering. ‘I apologise for my absence’ said this girl who walked on, shimmied past a large suitcase and sat opposite me. ‘I am here now.’ The muggy heat pressed on to all of us. She was perspiring. Ah, the way that women perspire! Arousal shifted in me and she had not yet put her knee against mine, or pushed her foot on to mine. She just moved her peach coloured nails for me to see. The sun was back. The varnish was unchipped. The sun was back, and with it my sex like a referee’s whistle shone out, silver and loud. Knees so perfect that Matisse threw a party for them a long time ago. He was a gentleman who knew what was what; that the blunt bones of a woman’s knees, bridled in thin skin, were revealed too late. Men had no idea until the late sixties. So this girl presented her knees to me. Tights stretched lightly upon the crest. ‘I apologise for my absence, do you like these?’ She asked me. She put her knee to mine. The heat from it was sensational.
I wanted to lick the sweat off of her. The bridge of her nose was carefully painted with sweat. It was white. And there was sweat painted on the plains of skin over her cheekbones; they were white, too. I wanted to lick the sweat off of her, and I would be grateful for it; so very grateful just to lick off what her body had rejected in salty water! What a waste! I thought considerably about what it would be like to lick the sweat off of her.
But the train was so hot, and I was distracted by perspiration, that I could not sleep. The sun only glances us a little firmer and everyone holler ‘hallelujah . . . Hallelujah, summer!’
I took great delight in killing something that buzzed around my head; I think it was only a wasp, or similar; but I took a tissue and crushed it against the window for everyone to see. It crawled and fluttered its antennae so I crushed it again and again until its squirming became feeble and pathetic. Then I threw it on the floor and I watched it die slowly. All for no reason than it was too hot to sleep. Each time the train passed a field of cut grass or a cold pond I dreamed of throwing myself into them. I cursed my situation, though, because they were travelled beyond, and all I had was a dead wasp.
Was it some special day, I don’t know, that wives should venture into the city with their babies to meet their lunching husbands? They strolled – only yesterday talking about ‘muggy’ – and now smugly clutching their putty-faced offspring, as if they were part of a staggering miracle. They were very happy in their shirts. They had left their jackets behind. Their shirts were a brilliant white. Meanwhile the wives pushed empty prams and grinned.

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