Hair flicks and stings as the wind gives gentle reminders not to push the luck, like a caring aunt. Wobble but no fall, the heart doesn’t stop, it’s a hazy day in a bramble sea whilst the grass waves on an appreciative marathon crowd. To tingle is effortless, to admire is hopeless, to aspire is pointless and The Future consists of one second. I’ve been twunted and menaced about the head six times today and there is blood forming a smile on the corners of my lips. We eat blackberries, and tunnel to Paris, popping up briefly in a bistro and causing a scene. Jumping from walls using carrier bags as parachutes, digging heels into the melting tarmac, skating under a cold day when the football stings the lips and we throw javelins at the church, because it’s easy. I can hold fire and it doesn’t burn my palms, it just goes up like a dove and it is saluted away.
Later, I lick sweat from the walls as my ears ring and everyone’s eyes are glowing like laser beams. Teeth are green or blue depending on personal hygiene. Going low, amid the broken bottles. Reaching high to scratch initials into the ceiling. A girl did the same, winked and unzipped me, just in time for the song to finish.
It is easier to run at night. Perspective changes – you feel as though you are running faster and burning less energy. I regularly run, away from Jeep’s filled with spiders, from balletic old men, from the smell of Old Spice and ghosts. I see them in the bowling alley, leaning and smoking against the pool table in the lobby, in front of a gold room where I had my first drink surrounded by frowning Dads.
Picking away at bubble gum stuck to a bench that doesn’t exist. She wore the same bellbottoms for seven years, stiff with mud at the bottom. She could still see where he spat on her knee, just one of thousands of gestures designed to denigrate her and for which she loved him more. Even now, she sits and hovers her palm over the spot, terrified to remove what isn’t there.
I remember it is seven years ago to the day since I kicked the shit out of a television on a piece of waste land near the shell of a supermarket. To celebrate, I drive a shopping trolley hard into a parked car and sprint away as the alarm sounds and dogs bark. It leaves a perfect silver grid on the blue driver’s door. Kicking stones into imaginary goals, lifting up sewer drains and dragging shit out with an iron bar to smear on doors. I find an abandoned garage and sleep inside. When I wake up, there’s a man asleep next to me, spooning me, with arms covered in dark red craters.
I suppose throwing the child’s pram – with child – into the duck pond was the final straw. A man, so incandescent as to be illogical, threw bread at me before the group pounded me deep into the soil.
The man who ran the antique shop shouted at me for wearing a coat and scarf. Apparently, it wasn’t cold enough to wear a coat and scarf. He shivered in Bermuda shorts, goose pimpled arms slithering out of a Hawaiian shirt. He returned his glasses to his face with the disappointment of someone retrieving their hated and long lost sibling at the airport.
The cigar box, made of a light wood – perhaps balsa, still had my name. It had been water damaged and my felt tip drawings were smeared into the picture of a disorganised artist’s palette. Inside, the dried leaves were too fragile to touch, but the lighter still carried a puddle of gas. The note I had written to myself was missing.
I took out the empty miniature whiskey bottle, still with a thin line of tape stretched across the lid. I unscrewed it and had a deep sniff of old air. The man asked for twenty, I gave him double, and left as the other half of a book-end I’d been trying to find.