Thursday, 22 February 2018

Quite early one morning

From our apartment, we can see the middle school which our daughters would have attended had we stayed in Victoria, rather then heading to Hades.

It's been upgraded in the intervening years and is now a rather handsome off-white building with Mondrian-like squares amid stencils of trees and sea landscapes.

I've learned to close the door of the en suite bathroom before using it.  All manner of people bring all sorts of dogs to the schoolyard outside of hours - something unheard of in Rockcliffe Park, where dogs were banned from school property.

At recess, the yard fills with kids ranging in ages eleven to fourteen.  Small knots of them make their way to the fence where the grass slopes down rather suddenly to two or three ancient trees.  This puts them out of sight of the school, but I'm not sure it occurs to them that they're in full view: of the quiet street, where people park their cars to walk to the shops on the busier thoroughfares, and me, sitting on the bed, while I put on my make-up.

This morning, I open the curtains to see the distant figures loping up to the school entrance, some clutching instrument cases, all wearing packsacks and clad in variations of jeans.

The young couple are obscured from their classmates and teachers by the slope of the grounds and by the tall tree by the chainlink fence, but I can see them clearly.  I doubt they'd care.  She's blond and bespectacled; he's her height, dark-haired in baggy jacket and light trousers.

How old are they?  Certainly no older than fourteen, possibly as young as twelve. Feeling self-conscious, I step away from the window, but they're oblivious to everything but each other.

I sit down on the other side of the bed, back to the window, to put on my shoes, wondering if they'll have any memory of this morning years from now: the chill of February, the half-light, the swish of the morning buses and cars.  The smell and taste of each other.

Shoes on, I stand, turn, and they've vanished; I can't even see anyone crossing the long field back to the school, where final stragglers are melting into the doors, some running, some plodding.  It's past 8:30.

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