Looking (i-On Green Grass)

The fence runs eight feet in height around the garden, light slanted across the grass through the slats, the grass wet and cold, and thin with the mud from dogs’ paws and trainers running up the path that leads to the low gate. The court in which the house is built is empty, is drying from the moisture of the early morning and the dry concrete looks broken in comparison to the wet concrete’s uniformity. The spring buds on withering plants are vibrant against the endless space of pebbledash, like houses enclosing in on one another and the sea somewhere nearby with the faint sound of seagulls wildly out of place. Every garden is a half-completed, half-owned job. Items that have served their purpose since the previous century merge into the landscape except for those who walk along the bottom road passing by in relief and see rusted iron bars stuck into the ground with concrete poured over that still look like the newest thing in the area and still harbour some resentment. The semi-detached end pieces used to stick road signs and signs of public service onto, small property inside. Old women with strollers who walk by in headscarves and all skin covered and light on their glasses stunningly reflective in the new sun and pass by unobserved as one of many whose presence is necessary. Old women with strollers who never go home. The scalp under the hair of men who walk by is visible.

Net curtains cover the sliding back doors in said back gardens and no life is visible inside. The shouts and screams of a woman that sound as though she is shouting at a wall in an empty room. No furniture and no fittings but water-damaged wallpaper lining the walls and very new skirting boards around the floor and ceiling. Shouting with her hands on her thighs direct to the wall as groups of school children wail in the street and the screams of girls in P.E uniforms rising like fog walked into clear over the houses. She argued in the kitchen that looks out onto the garden with a deep voice that only interjected briefly, bided its time and waited its turn, waiting for silence then speaking in terse statements that roll into each other, inflections centred in the clause, ends with short syllables that blow with their delivery like sound rattles against paper. Occasionally the voice of a little girl that calls with information unrelated and asks for things or relays things already known. Louder, starts with exclamations of the referent’s baptism in earlier years then short observations that are ignored. And again between the conversation heard next door. The low voice got louder and became less coherent. Less emotion could be identified in the voice, sounding a blur over the other voices, only talking to gain dominance in a room with space too big to fill for modern women trained after therapy.

The little girl is the second little girl in a house built only twenty years earlier. She was brought up by inherited family and looks like the first girl should have looked and always will be that way. The girl’s face changes as she gets older and smarter and moves away and walks between people in new cities and acts differently to how the other girl should have done. Comes home and looks too tired, is offered a drink by her mum and accepts it with a causality that is unnerving to the mother who stands in the corner of the kitchen while her daughter leans one arm on the counter surface and gesticulates with the other long and tiresome stories that each have a light-hearted humour that is bigger than the story itself and her mum is unnerved because the world is dangerous and little girls are little girls forever and some young hip student is becoming a lost guest who loves her unconditionally and tells her that after resting her arms.

The second little girl didn’t talk while the two voices talked over each other, then she was called for and picked up her coat, her shoes already on. The mum asks herself where something is, steps around the room, asks the second little girl where it is. It was the light and the words were clearer. The little girl was quiet and was asked again. There was more movement, someone left the room and walked upstairs then there was complete silence. Some small taps and brushes then the back door was slid open and a bald older man in a tight fitting short-sleeved shirt walked out into the garden hands cupped around his mouth. He turned and closed the door behind him then brought his hands back to his mouth, dropping them to his side, looking down at the road. His trainers were pulled on, the laces laced through to the inside so never tied, his jeans rolled up his left leg by accident. The woman’s voice sounded again from inside, quieter, filling the floor and low spaces. Repeated words and phrases that are soothing. The back door was slid open once more and the middle aged woman with long hair blowing down appeared with the little girl in puffa jacket not pulled all the way over her hands in hand, the door closed. She walked down the garden path passed the man who didn’t alter his sight and walked out of the gate with her little girl in hand passed his line of sight to a taxi on the bottom road. The man inhaled and exhaled. He felt wildly out of place.

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