Play Grounds

luminescent orange tarmac. Clinical glare from double decker busses, cars, headlights passing. Final route run.

Get off the road, grief is coming, go home to your praying gardens, grief is coming.

The young couple, each in a vintage swing, exchange shy laughter. Bare feet graze dirty sand, the last playground of its kind. Her knees touch, ankles far apart. I imagine her crucified, spreader bars. I exhale smoke beneath passing trees.

The young ones glance at each other with secret smiles, puppy love. I should kill the boy first. Quick and quiet. I dream of the ways to keep her silent, despite her screaming. I will take my time with her…

But no.

Grief is coming. It’s nearly midnight.

The church is bright, in all the wrong places.
The tabernacle sits in the dark by the main altar of sacrifice. I eye six boys in white dresses, kneeling in vigil. I survey their soft skin, dumb and innocent faces lit by fire, pale knuckles clenching candelabra. Someone among the pews cough.

The church is lit in all the wrong places. Clinical glare where I sit, far to the back, watching a man taking photos of the boys with his phone. It’s easy for me to hide in false light. Removing my slippers, I rub dirt from my feet. Strangely, I find sand between my toes and fresh bloody skin under my nails. Nails that belong to the man in the tabernacle.

Grief is coming. Sit with me for an hour.

Stale air, hardly moving in the monotone warehouse. Everything grey and dusty. A boy is waiting for the cargo lift. The faded yellow doors never open. Next to it, the public toilet reeks. Clinical lights gone half blind, glaucoma ambient in a morgue. People, now long gone, had soiled the barber chairs in the stalls. The red carpet is heavy with ammonia. Gas lamps sputter with half life, casting shadows on filthy tiles. The boy can’t find the stairwells. The boy can’t find his young love.

Grief never came but the time has come.

A choir begins in the far dark. Sorrow hangs from solitary words and minor chords. Cracked voices tremble. The boys in white dresses, stand. The man in the tabernacle is being carried away by another man in a white dress. Incense burners clack like a death march metronome. The procession is terminal, inevitable. Holy man and holy boys disappear behind beige doors. The incense lingers. No one can find the girl.

After midnight.

Clinical light expose vacant void decks. I walk past lifts with no power, steel boxes shut down to conserve energy. No bodies around except a couple, leaning into a pillar along a sheltered walkway. My cigarette burns, lungs dense and fogged. The conversation they are having is hushed and pained and devastating. I can see it in her face as I pass. He is meticulous, articulated, a tightly controlled savagery. The puncture of each word is surgical, parasitic and time bent. Blood drains from her fair skin. She is speechless. Something in her face is funereal.

I smoke, bare bodied and alone at the vacant playground. There are no swings, no sand, no wind. The burning bin nearby has a fresh fire. I’m going to miss the smell of her sweat on my sleeve. I slip on a new, white t—shirt. An image of a boy with shining eyes is on the front. The light is so bright, he is blind.

I pass the couple under shelter, violence reduced to tics, breathless whispers and sparse grey lines around the eyes. They stand in an aura, void sized. The elevator wakes with my touch, clinical light flickering to life. I find a splash of brown vomit inside, near the door, just beneath unlit buttons. I choose to wake the other lift.

I’m trying to sleep.

A man is shouting somewhere outside, among white, monolithic housing blocks. His desperate voice, that unintelligible name, echoes down orange tarmac. He shouts the name between long seconds of silence. He spends his strength, calling for a lost dog, or lost lover.
No one can find the girl.

I peer out the window of night and find the playground empty. I no longer hear the man shouting. The fire in the bin has died out.

I’m still trying to sleep.

I should clear out the sand in my room.


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