Saturday, September 20, 2014

September exercise


YOU leave the place where you work, fairly exhausted. It’s Friday afternoon and it’s such a relief.  In your mind the weekend is like a beacon of cool, clear water in the middle of a burning desert. In reality it’s only two days but two days of space and reflection and leaning and passivity is something.

You close the black wrought iron gate behind you and make your way to the Mt Alexander Road roundabout. You have to find the Essendon Traffic School, an oasis for kids who ride their bikes amidst mini traffic lights and mini roundabouts, supposedly learning to navigate the big, bold rules of the road. There is a party there this afternoon, which you must attend.

You cannot remember the exact location of the traffic school. You will need to ask. There is something about the air this particular afternoon. There is a weak sun streaking down around you, so it is neither cold nor warm. You are sometimes prone to OCD in stressful situations, but on this occasion you cannot be dreamier or more at ease. It is a luscious feeling. You ignore the cracks in the concrete and the mirrored reflections from shop windows. The position of your body in relation to the oncoming car is of no consequence. Later you are unable to recall the linguistic make up of advertising signs and street names. You are unconscious of: your breathing, cigarette butts on the pavement, the temptation to feel fence palings, the way you sometimes bite down on the inside of your cheeks left right left right left right, obsessive useless mental arithmetic, scratching your left arm and compensating for it by scratching your right arm.

There are young people in school uniform scattered around in small groups. You begin by asking this first casual group near the tram stop where Essendon Traffic School is. Their response is warm, and not very helpful in its vagueness, but somehow delightful all the same. At 7-Eleven you organise a self-help cup of coffee. You inadvertently fill a two dollar cup and pay just a dollar. Smilingly, the man behind the counter asks for a further dollar, and his smile broadens when he sees that you weren’t aware of your mistake. This time you receive more accurate information about where you need to go and decide to catch a tram as it is advancing just at that moment when you need it, and it will apparently take you half way there.

Some young people on the tram vaguely know you and they acknowledge you before you properly see them with another warm smile. The tram stumbles and clanks its way down Fletcher Street and you disembark about five minutes from where you need to go.

It has been a perfect beginning to another weekend. The sun is now somehow brighter and warmer. There are a lot of parents and kids at this traffic school. You watch, sometimes fascinated, with the juvenile comings and goings of bikes flashing past, red light rules broken, kids randomly moving and merging in different directions. Parents are having earnest conversations and watching their offspring at the same time. Some seem to be more worried about their child than others.

The evening is beginning to get cooler. The onset of dusk is beginning to invade the playground. The onset of early evening is somehow making you feel melancholy. You hear a shriek emanating from some dark place, somewhere. This animal-like sound sets off a trembling in you, like an intolerable memory of anguish from long ago. Somebody close to you is screaming. You can see splashes of scarlet blood over her body. It is evident her arm has become almost detached from the rest of her body. The sight makes your stomach unsettle and you cry amongst the frightened children.


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