If I
Oonah V Joslin

Thereís a kind of urban silence that goes with this heat; a muffled sound; high pressure impacting.† When Iím indoors I want to be outside but when Iím out I have to come back in.† So Iím going out just to be where Iím not.† I might catch a breeze up my dress.† I might buy strawberries and ice-cream.† A surge of heat at the crossing, a wave of pollution.† That haze along the tarmac is a-creep with petrol fumes.† I donít know why Iíve come out; wish Iíd stayed home.† If I walk on that side I can stay in the shadow where the shops begin.† Strawberries and lettuce, strawberries and lettuce going round like a bloody mantra in my head.† Thatís not right.† My head hurts.† Why is everybody going in the opposite direction?† Itís like swimming against the tide.† Maybe if I stand here for a moment and allow them to pass.† That bathing suit is still in the window of Crofts and the dress that looks thunderstorm blue.† It must be silk.† It shimmers slightly green.† You could go for a swim in that dress, like a mermaid under its cool waves.† If I wore that dress to a lobster ball Iíd make quite a splashÖno not a lobster ball.† Lobsters are red.† They squeal as they heat up and thereís no way out of the boiling vat.† Iíd be like a lobster.† I wish Iíd never thought of bloody lobsters now.† My temples are pounding.† I canít think in this heat.† Lettuce and strawberries.† Lettuce and strawberries.† That dress wouldnít fit me anyway.† And where would I wear a dress like that?† If I superimpose my reflection in the glass onto that dummy in the dress I can see it would never fit me.† Me.† Me who?† Iím standing here like a dummy looking at a dummy in a dress that wouldnít fit anyway and I should beÖ† I was going somewhereÖ† I was going to getÖ† If I walk on Iíll remember.† Itís bound to come back if I walk on.† Church, post office, public toilet.† God you know thatís there before you see it Ė itís this damned heat!† A clinking of cups.† Pee and cakes all round, aha, thatís a goodíun.† I must remember that.† Iíll go down here, turn left, come round in a circle and then Iíll know.† Wish someone would speak to me.† Thereís that dress again.† I still donít know.† Thereíll be something in my bag; an envelope, an appointment cardÖ.† Purse, money, nothing.† Well I came this wayÖso if I walk back this way Iíll remember.† I wonder if I walked into that shop would they know me.

First published: Aug, 2008
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