January 2, 2017 § Leave a comment

Only a child would really describe it as snowfall – a fine dusting of the sort that leaves the real world, the drab, damp, December world still visible in places. Not enough to close the schools, declare an impromptu day off, sledging parties on the hill whilst colleagues in Birmingham and London fill an ignored inbox with increasingly terse missives. No, today there’s no snow, not really. Nothing that might halt the procession of cars edging up the hill and into the town. See them turn left at the junction – heading for the city. Right at the junction, they’re heading for the big office just there. Or the railway station. Or the supermarket. Or the school. See how the cars veer off here, turn in there, peeling away as others join, all the while rolling slowly forward. Now, each car contains a boy, and each boy contains a world. See the cars pulling up outside the school, where the early ones are already scraping the fields clear of snow, revealing the grass as a drab green surprise against the dull morning. Snowballs arc across the footpath towards new arrivals, occasionally striking – but mostly falling short, unnoticed.

There are girls here, too, picking their way along the slippery pavement towards their school further along the road. They are precise as flamingos, all bony legs, tiny skirts and movement as one, shrieking and cawing at missiles and missteps. The snow still falling, too, on perfect hair and immaculate faces. Watch them as they pick their way along the street, these girls who are precise and composed, and these boys who veer at one another, colliding in a mess of bags and blazers. Marvel that they are the same somehow, these boys and these girls, passing and not passing.

See this boy here and this girl here, for instance. See them on the corner of a street opposite his school. Note the hoods of their coats pulled up, pulled close, and know that it is not to keep out the weather but rather, to keep out the world, the slow-moving traffic, the ricocheting boys and the flamingo girls. See that their hoods allow them a private space in which to intersect, here on this busy street, for a few long moments, before he makes his way to his school and she makes her way to her school.

Within half an hour the emerging sun will have melted the last of the snow, and all the people will be where they should be, save for one young boy, running up the school drive clutching a broken bag full of books, late as usual.




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