Still, he can see their bones reaching above the coach’s rooftop and he tries to think of any other metaphor besides the lazy imagery – he shakes the notion from his head and focuses, instead, on the remaining hailstones which were as white tumours against the dark ice. They aren’t melting anymore but have been caught in a half-life – half-protrusion and half-dispersion.
The slave allows his eyesight to hop from hailstone to hailstone; he does well, making it halfway across the courtyard before his gaze is interrupted by a pair of long legs, encased in black leggings above faux-fur-trimmed boots. He casts his eyes down again, and he notices the drop of water on the edge of his shoe – he tries to think of where it might have come from and remembers the scaffolds littering the main street he had walked through to reach this spot – this place made deadly by nature’s whims – in the heart of the Port-City.
The legs move past him and his gaze flickers up for a moment – she is young and pretty, with a high brow leading down into a pixie-esque chin, a pointed little thing below red lips. Her mouth is opening and closing, as if around words, and she glances at him for a moment as she passes. The slave’s heart skips a beat at the thought of her conversation, but then she is gone and he breathes deeply, warring against his body.
‘No,’ he thinks, and closes his eyes, ‘my body and I are one and the same. There is no divide.’
As though in agreement, the white air bites into the flesh of his neck and he shivers. He tilts his head and looks around – his eyes focus on semi-distant statues; giants of industry enshrined in black metal atop worn stone pedestals. The coach has gone – he didn’t notice its movement, but now the courtyard is open and gives way to the frost-tipped park. He doesn’t know the names of those statues, but he can imagine their achievements – the founder of the Port-City’s university, the founder of its Hospital, a former Prime Minister and a memorial to a long-disbanded regiment.
The Arab is showing the girl his photographs, and she clasps her hands to her mouth in an over-exaggerated embarrassment. She makes a half-spirited grab for the camera, and the Arab drops it onto the frozen cobbles. They both stare at it for a few seconds until the woman picks it up. They walk away, their feet occasionally slipping on the ice.
The smell of bacon and frying sausage warms the air, and the slave turns. Behind him, on the other side of the wall, there is the open-front of a café – blue plastic seats beneath wide-spreading parasols embedded in the wooden tables. The parasols themselves glitter as light catches their frozen particles, a multi-hued ceiling which runs all the way to the open door.
The slave can almost see the heat within, the air wavering as it hits the sharp temperature of natural air. The smell hangs about him and his stomach complains. He cannot go in yet, he cannot give into his selfish desires, cannot acquiesce to his hunger.
A police car pulls onto the cobblestones from the adjacent main road and creeps slowly – like a wild animal looking for prey. The driver is a bald man, with a coarse face interrupted by angular wrinkles – not sagging flesh but, rather, carefully hewn imperfections of a severely straight inclination. He scowls at the slave as he drives past and his companion, a tough-looking woman with black hair cut into an old-fashioned style bob, turns in her seat to see the slim figure against the wall. The car pulls off of the courtyard and into the narrow asphalt which leads into the park – the same park where the dead trees stretch and the black metal mocks the passers-by – those austere figures could never have slipped on ice, never have vomited into the cowering dark or urinated against a wall whilst drunk; they never had doubts or weaknesses, but were born as hard as the iron they were honoured with, inherited a dedication which made the modern man seem weak and apathetic against the solidity of those who went before.
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As always; thanks for reading – be sure to check out some other stuff I’ve written, whilst you’re here!