Thursday, April 20

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Behind my office building there is a garden. For a couple of months, the passers-by could observe it being rejuvenated; the paving slabs replaced, the benches sanded, plants repotted, flowers sewn, the trees pruned and their twisted branches propped up by metal poles. In colourful blooms the garden remarked its calendar on the pavement outside the tall gates; fallen lips of pink yellow white. On the wall of the building is a skull: an antelope of some kind.
‘So this is your route…’ she asked—‘where you go walking?’
‘Yes,’ I said—‘damn near every day.’
She wanted to come with me, for how long I did not know. I asked her about her weekend and she told me she spent it alone. ‘I cooked! I hate cooking.’ We walked on. ‘And I thought I walked fast!’
‘Am I walking too fast?’
‘No, no,’ she insisted. ‘I don’t know anyone who walks this fast while smoking.’
Out of nowhere, on one of her flights about the office, she had asked me for a cigarette. I told her that I was down to the dregs of my tobacco and that it was pretty dry. ‘Perfect! I’ll buy you some more!’ I told her that it was really not necessary. The tobacco was dry and broke into smaller shreds of small shreds. As we were walking she would say—‘Light!’ and I would hand her my lighter. That yellow buttercup held below her facial features, all gold and bright. Softly a lit bit of ash blew up and landed in her hair; I stared to make sure it did not take.
As we walked past the garden, I apologised to her—‘This route is much longer – you can see where we are now! – but it’s a much nicer path… Besides, you’ve got to get that exercise, get that step-count up.’
‘Which way are you going?’ I pointed right, farther away from our office. ‘Well, I’m going this way. I’ll see you soon.’
‘Are you lit properly?’
She inhaled to check—‘Yes!’
I put my music in and walked down the street, continuing my well-worn route. There was a long line of children, two-by-two, hand-in-hand, laughing, shrieking and fidgeting and a row of teachers and assistants herding them out the way of wretched city workers. Passing by their hair, at height with my elbow, I was completely absorbed by my music and the fluttering of spring in the air. I felt as though I were nowhere at all.

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