you can’t really go back

we’re taking our friend’s dog for a walk. she lives in our new neighbourhood and we’ve been here long enough that even I, with no sense of direction, can navigate through the little alleys and laneways to find her house.

the kids are a bit droopy. it’s a half an hour drive from their old school across town. I pick them up just after the final bell but they’re already over the day by the time we arrive back. or maybe it’s just winter. winter in the city is cold and virus-y. but winter anywhere would be like that.

we live at the south end of newtown. I love the small streets. it’s quiet back here. cosy. hanging plants and wicker chairs adorn balconies trimmed with iron lacework and tibetan prayer flags. you can peer over people’s fences and through their windows if you’re nosy, which I am. from one porch, a startled-looking couple meets my gaze. pot smoke wafts towards me.

our friend’s pooch comes with a roll of black plastic baggies for sorting out any shit that may occur. we meet some other dogs on our walk, but everyone is well-behaved enough.

until this moment I hadn’t counted back how many years it’s been since I lived in this town.

on the way home the kids beg to stop at one of the playgrounds. it’s small, with swings, a slide and an elaborate looking climbing frame constructed with sturdy new ropes. two boys, also in clean uniforms, run through the park. school shoes hit the winding path.

it’s been fifteen years. it’s not the same as it was. the hedges are neater, the graffiti cleaner. I know the same could be said of me. my pockets are heavier, my mind lighter. I give the kids the five minute warning, then two minutes, then one. we walk home in the dusk, orange skies behind wires.

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