Indigo Winds

One of those cold summer mornings where one shivers to leave the front door. Or to step out the shower and, in haste, release the window from its latch, to permit escaping steam, and a rush of fresh air across the wet body, shivering – ‘Ooh!’ – and the rooftops undulate between lush hedges. Or perhaps you went to bed with the window open and woke in the middle of the night at the shuttering of blinds in the breeze, until, thin duvet wrapped tightly, you surrendered, arose and closed them, and, in an instant, missed the sound of nightly nothingness that had intruded upon your pillow.

One of those cold summer mornings when all is blue and only about the lip of the sky is there the thinnest sliver of gold. A rinsing mist swims through the suburban lanes, like lost whales up the Thames. A layer of dew is spread over the road, and in the worn rails of asphalt one catches hints of the firmament. Over the pavement, adjacent a car spilled up the kerb, the pear tree has ripened its fruit and soon, too heavy and swollen, they will fall; the garden from which they sprout, the owners uninterested, will leave them to lie there and soften as the shoes of passing schoolchildren slip them into mush.

And the night before, walking home at half-eight, the death of summer was written on the sky as much as it was the date. Indigo winds that came off the sea throttled then caressed the soft sunstretched neck that extended towards the streetlights which, at the exact moment one looked up, came on into the distance. The paperbag of dusk rustled. Two girls lay bellydown on the grass, their ankles crossed up behind them, the confidence of their discussion heard by neither man nor beast. A family on scooters upset Sunday’s demise as they shoved past in gleeful exclamations of—‘Slow down, slow down!’ And an old woman pointed half-invisibly her lead to the terrier who sniffed away the grass before her. It was cold. Cars punched through the mist that was beginning to gather. Lights on the pier twinkled a mile away; gently orbiting ferris wheel and illegible advertisements. The trees shushed as we passed; pines knotted in their own needles and the sour smell of autumn creeping in.

Two men behind the till are listening to the radio. One of them cannot be seen, only his left leg bent at the knee atop a stool, his right arm writing upon a pad. The other gentleman is counting notes from the till. The radio is commentating cricket and at my arrival an Indian wicket has fallen; they pause their discussion and listen, heads bowed to the single speaker. Then they talk quick and excitedly. I had forgotten how much I missed walking into a shop and hearing cricket commentary being played on the radio. They do not notice my presence for some time, although I do not mind because I enjoy listening and watching. When he comes to, he greets me warmly, a small smile underneath a slipping mask. I buy a packet of tobacco. I do not need to, there are packs of tobacco in my backpack back in the office, there are packs in the cupboard at home. But still I buy the tobacco. I am buying packets of tobacco for no reason at all other than to walk inside a shop and ask the gentleman behind the till for a packet of tobacco.