inner city summer

Summer Observations: Part 2 by Rebecca Johnstone

Half-formed thoughts perspiring in the slumber of the afternoon and melted ice cream sticky between fingers and down wrists licking it off because it still tastes so good; even mixed with sun cream from earlier in the day and someone shouting, calling, up to no good or just kidding around and isn't that what summer's for before the reality of winter grabs you by the throat and abandons you in your darkest nightmare?
Summer Observations Part 2 Rebecca Johnstone.jpg
Chips greasy in the heat and scraped-off tomato ketchup left on the plate attracting flies and how many tomatoes are in a bottle of ketchup anyway and who cares and who polices that because they're always trying to cut things down and make them smaller with less sugar and salt and fat but not cheaper. One less triangle.
A man scratches his crotch and a mother pulls her little boy in the opposite direction; away, hoping to god that her son won't end up like that but knowing he will because testosterone and genetics and social conditioning and we're all animals at the end of the day. Nevermind. She isn't religious anyway but who else is there to pray to? No don't ask. Seriously. There are other deities and spirits. Don't start that conversation. Just carry on, hurry to the bus stop and check your destination on the solar-powered timetable (clever that) and pay the driver and take a seat. Not at the back, too rough at the back, she's not sat at the back since she was a teenager and definitely not with her son. He's too young for the back. Plenty of time for that but the front feels out of bounds too - not yet in need of those seats so she opts for the middle. The no man's land of the bus. Like her whole life in a way, but noisier. Why can't everyone shut up and get off their phones? God (him again) she's sounding old. She's sticking in the middle though she's not giving an inch.
The bus pulls away and so does the image of the man and his itching crotch framed in the doorway of a boarded up Woolworth's. An empty can rolls up the aisle leaving a stain of residue in its wake. Dirt. It'll attract the dirt, she thinks, though everything feels unfresh in the heat anyway. She can't wait for the clean slate of autumn in more ways than one.