Scenes of life - Week 012
Week 012 (23.11.20)
I glance through the corridor window instinctively checking for the weather. My sleepy eyes open wide as I spot the neighbour’s red car covered in a thin layer of frost. I stop on the landing and crane my neck to see more but there isn’t much more to see. Mist is enveloping the neighbourhood, softening the sharp edges of brick houses and limiting my vision to the foreground.
I leave the sight behind to make my way to the kitchen. Two mugs of tea brewed, I head back to the bedroom and open the curtains. In the distance, the world is tinted pink from an invisible sun, too low on the horizon to be seen. I sit on the windowsill watching the colours shift as the sun rises higher, swirling the mist into candy floss.
Bundled in layers of clothes, I step outside. My hands turn red at the cold and I smile. I know my fingers will hurt in a moment, the air around scalding me in an impression of warmth. I make my way to the garden door but it refuses to open. The lock is frozen in place. I laugh. I turn back, walk through the house, and step into the garden from the house back door. I lay my hands on the cold metal bar of the garden door lock. My skin protests at the touch but I ignore it. The layer of ice melts, my body still warm enough for this gentle frost.
The key slides into the lock and turns without a problem. I shift my focus to my bicycle resting against the house wall, unprotected from the elements. My saddle shines in the dim morning light. I put a finger on it and watch a small puddle of water form below my touch. My handlebars, bare and metallic, glint as I move the bicycle. I wonder briefly if my hands are going to stick to them even though I know it is not quite that cold. Experimentally, I close my fists around them. My skin is not sucked into the prison of ice.
I wheel the bike outside, close the door, and hop on the saddle. The wind batters the bare skin of my fingertips uncovered by my fingerless gloves. I savour the sensation, bitingly cold and yet burning. My skin is red raw. I wait until I cannot stand it before shoving my fingers in my mouth. They melt under the warmth of my breath, regaining a more natural colouring.
I glide through residential streets and cycle paths, my dull commute illuminated by the sparkles of frost and the mystery of mist all around. My head swivels left and right in an attempt to drink it all in, engrave the sights into memory.
A crow stands on the path ahead, unmoving. My fingers find the brakes, ready to stop and swerve past the bird but at the last minute they take flight. They remain low above the ground, my wheel parallel to their body. They fly on and for a few seconds, we work in tandem. The Brook Bridge looms closer and they soar into the air, leaving me behind, grinning like an idiot.
Past the supermarkets, across a busy road, and back into quiet cycle lanes, I stop and drop the bike to the ground. Camera to my eye, I step into the grass. I expect to feel the resistance of frost bitten earth but none comes. My shoes squelch into soft mud, the ground holding on to the warmth of summer still. Photo captured I return to my commute.
At work, window wide open as a makeshift counter, I shiver. My muscles tense at the strain of keeping me warm, my fingers jaggedly dancing on the keyboard as I reply to e-mails. I drink tea after tea in an attempt to remain warm but nothing works until early in the afternoon. The sun hovers above the barrage of trees between the garage and my workplace. It hits the perspex screen designed to protect me against Covid, dispersing the light and heat of its molten core onto my face. My eyes close against the violence of it and my head tilts upwards to welcome the feeling of warmth. Under the layers of clothes I am wearing, my body heats up fast, sweat building along my spine, but I refuse to take my jumper off. I am like an animal attempting to store the sun inside their body, trapping it for future use.
In the evening, my body still warm from the afternoon sun, I sail through town. The mist is long gone, leaving the city visible. Each street is illuminated by lampposts and Christmas decorations. The bulbs, yellow and warm, of the city centre decorations catch me by surprise. I did not expect to see banners of lights stretching from building to building across the main shopping thoroughfare. I know it is almost December, less than a month until Christmas but it feels odd to see the lights as if everything is normal. Below their wide sweeping arch, the wooden house of the Christmas market are eerily missing, as if the Council had not completed their Christmas to-do list yet. Only, the list will never get completed this year, the wooden houses staying locked in their storage units. A few stray pedestrians wander the streets, dodging queues for the most popular shops. I zigzag my way out of town and back onto residential streets.
My neighbour’s red car hasn’t moved but it is no longer catching the light in hundreds of ice fragments. The door of their house is ajar. I prepare myself to greet them but they don’t see me. Their heads bob up and down between the light switch and the illuminated decorations they have just put up. The lights flicker blue and green, a cascade of yellow and red following.