A sunday Afternoon


The leaving was easier than she thought.

All those nights practising it in her head. Just wanted to look at the gardens, so pretty in the spring. Just wanted to see the gardens. Except in the end nobody asked. She simply put on the good blue dress, combed her hair and walked down the corridors, taking care over those polished tiles, and pushed out through the heavy double doors.

Outside. Out through the garden. Trying not to run but wanting to. Outside. Out through the gates and here she is walking along the footpath looking at the daffodils. Just like anybody else.

She breathes in the air. Sniffs it. Sucks it up and rolls it around in her mouth. So different out here. Different even than in the garden. Sitting on those seats. Sometimes she takes off her shoes. Rolls down her rights so that she can feel good rough ground under her feet. She digs her toes in, and rubs her soles into the earth. They say, look at that Jessy getting herself all dirty, Jessy you naughty girl you\'ll get a chill. Time to go inside, girls.

ÐFunny that. Being called girl. Naughty naughty girls wetting themselves and pinching. Quiet good girls slumped in the seats in the garden with their mouths open. Waiting for it. Drinking in death.

Her voice shakes when she asks for two sections. She wants it far too much. Practised that too in her head over and over in the nights. Listening to them in the corridors. If Mary shits herself again tonight she can sleep in it. Listening to the cries and the calling, I have to get home. I have to, the children want their dinner. She sits in the bus away from the window. Afraid to look out. Cars and people on the footpath. People watching. For her. Tom says it\'s a nice place, Mum. Warm and clean and friendly and plenty to do. Except that everything to do there ends up with dying and there are better places to do that and better people to do it with.

She grips the sides of the seat with her hands and they are hot and sweating. Jack said I don\'t want to leave you, Jess. Jess? And she took his head in her hands and cradled him against her body. Rocked and rocked him, tender and gentle for the last time and whispered to him and held him strong and tight while he needed it and then let her tears wash down over her face and down over his. She kissed his mouth and it was still warm and it tasted of salt.

She manages the steps and the post office is there down the road. She has her book ready in her bag but how much?; she has to think, too, about the withdrawal slip. All thats done for her now. Tom said it\'d be easier. Tom doesn\'t know sometimes easier is harder. In the end she stands still and quiet and breathes in deeply. Makes herself think to write the name and the numbers. She has to stop and hold her hand to stop the shaking and rub in some warmth. Her hands are always a surprise. She can never believe they belong to her. Greyish with the brown patches and the thin fragile fingers; skin haphazardly stretched on bone. Jack loved her hands, traced over supple smooth flesh with his fingers. In the end its only bones that are left. In the end your bones get cold and they ache.

The young man behind the counter has Jack\'s blue eyes that she smiles into and he takes her book and slides it back to her with money. He says have a nice day and she echoes it back at him, a nice day, have a nice day. Her heart is pounding.

Out in the streets she panics a little. All these people and talking and music and the cars slowly nosing. There is a red-capped boy swooping in and out of the crowd on his skate-board. It is how Jean Legget broke her hip and she steps quickly back and a woman drives an elbow into her shoulder.