Should it be written about the rocks or the gutters that line the railway tracks, for these things are viewed only briefly and afforded little in the way of beauty? Intentionally. It is only us passengers, coursing through the scenery and its artefacts, never a part of it but piercing, who come to catch quickly their passing by.
    The rocks are not much but they are ordered in piles, pieced together, and angled away from the tracks. Rocks go up the banks of Brentwood but not along the length of our route to London, as if, during their short spell at the Network Rail landscaping dept, an ambitious designer gave their grace to a fleeting length of six-wide causeway. ‘It’s just too expensive, Elaine, too time-consuming. We thought we’d be halfway to Harold Wood by now.’ The rocks are dark by nature. In the rain, they darken. In time’s moss, they darken further. The rocks are dark. It is their hobby to be dark. Up there, past the banks, beyond the wild ferns, there are backgarden fences. It was my junior fingertips that felt up the wooden slats, precarious to splinter, and looking between in the snow to see trains passing by. Other children lingered at my shoulder, pausing there. ‘Don’t fall down the bank,’ one said. It was sordid, somehow, voyeuristic. The children had rosy cheeks and his sister had rosy cheeks, plump lips, and from the thrown snow, her fingers were rosy as she told me to come away—‘Dinner is almost ready. My mum’s making garlic bread.’
    The rocks were dark and if they were left to only time, away from human interference, they would stand forever, slanting away from the railway tracks and later from where the railway tracks used to run.
    If pornography were not so frowned upon, it might include a visit to the shopping centre food court. Only those who have abandoned childhood completely cannot find any glee in the shopping centre food court. Everything fans out from one’s appetite. Beneath each front is St Peter for one soul or another. You take off with your money and do laps. The reading we practiced at school is exercised across resplendent menus. Meet me at the table. We pick it out of the sea like a shell and someone takes a chair, clutches plastic cutlery, greaseproof napkins, straws. Nothing has been cleaned properly so that it accrues an oily film, thick with odour, as appealing as it is foul. Put your tongue there and I will put mine. The music is played through tin; it echoes religiously to accompany the eucharist. Our food is delicious. We will not need to eat again for hours. There was everything until there was only a disposable plate. We have travelled the world separately and together. Look at our plates!
    Reach up to the top shelf for a glimpse of the shopping centre food court, or visit its website, accept all essential cookies, enjoy its drums, clean up afterwards.
    The bedside fan is impolite and treats me like any other cavity. It blows air right up into the honeycomb of my nose and lungs, dries me out. I enjoy considering my torso as no more than the bones of birds, but all my edges crisp and fracture as I take that first breath of the morning. Summon saliva! The cat is upon me. I am not sharp enough to close my eyes before she notices I am awake. She mews even louder. For the past few hot mornings, she has taken dawn on her window seat so that, emerging for work, I see her silhouette behind the living room curtains.
    After giggling on my chest, she sits on the pillow next to my skull. I reach up with my left hand and stroke her jaw; she puts herself around me, her paws on my face. The room is bright with late June’s morning. I thank her—‘I love you’ over & over. It is nine minutes before my alarm. I laugh for joy. She ups and sits on my chest. I stroke her and, as my round ribcage fluctuates, she puts her claws into my stomach and pushes her jaw into my palm. ‘I love you’ over & over. She draws blood. As I stroke stronger, her claws tighten. The frequency of her purr resonates within my bones.
    Then there are the gutters along the railway tracks. You do not know them, do not know the gutters, but a long block of flats along the line of Londonward steel has a clogged gutter, clogged gutters. How did I not notice them before? It had been many seasons. Summer had brought a rush into the roots and pulled flowers up from their slumber. The dull building was edged at its crest by the most linear of weedy decorations. They were erect and green as they flowered. And for some strange reason, it was one of the many, many times that I smiled to myself today. A science one gladly receives without explanation.