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Arcade

by Diogenes Kanness

With her compassion brutalised but otherwise mostly intact, she closed & locked the door. She checked the corridor; &, thinking she was not being watched, knelt down & slid her key beneath the plywood veneer. She listened carefully & thought she heard his choking breath as he tried to sleep their past away. That was re-assurance enough. She knew it was time to leave. He would wake up & may eventually notice her absence. By then he will be gripped by more immediate needs, the desperate needs she could no longer help him fulfil. He was not well. He had never been well. She hoped he would find the key quickly but feared that he wouldn't. Any delay might be important yet she couldn't manage to care - not now, not after this. King Street seemed busier than the last time they saw it; & she dodged pedestrians & cars alike as she found her new way outside. Their last frozen night had become a warm mid-day; & a shaded sun sent bright shadows along the old Portland-cemented faรงades. It was cheerful without being insistent. She looked up. The sun's light felt comfortable on her face; but a sharp street-breeze cooled her more than she wanted. The street had its own thermostatic controls, which shifted as quickly as the people passing through: first creating a pleasantly unseasonal heat; then, with a lingering shadow, cooling to a concrete chill. She looked for the drifts of rain which had dampened their angry night. They were dried away & the clouds they left behind were soft & suffused with light. This was his weather, she thought, but not his time. It was not dark. It was not night. He hated the rain. To him, it was only falling water, an inconvenience to be avoided, an annoyance from life that blocked his continuous reach for pleasure. She had always loved the rain. It soothed her spirit with its unobtrusive song, steadied her raging passions with its tranquillising beat. Rain brought her peace. It sometimes made her smile. This minor disagreement shouldn't have mattered but somehow it still did. It placed a single small hurt on her list of silent sufferings, a list which finally included one entry too many. She followed the stairs down into Newtown station in search of her next way forward. This corner of her life had been turned & left behind. She had no ticket, followed no timetable. For now, she could disappear in the flow of crowded motion, leaving nothing of herself behind... or so she thought. The history he would build from the failures of their past would mould his present while it forced & limited her's. In this accident of choice & circumstance, he will learn how to live & understand while she will lose herself in the search for a purposeful freedom. That is the way of the past. It is never truly behind us. For much of her life, the past had not even arrived.

Arcade  

A study in urban life

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