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Posts Tagged ‘hampstead heath’

A helicopter is circling in a weight of clouds. It lingers in the grainy sky. We scramble across a river, slip on the sodden soil. Then the heath opens up and it’s Kenwood House vivid white, grass green, sky creamy blue grey. You stride through the gates, tell us we must leave and give directions. Your wellied feet are dry and you’re wearing a National Trust sweatshirt. My feet sink into the mud. This is because Primark do not offer a waterproof option and I rarely think ahead. You are brisk and it’s starting to rain. And yet, and yet.

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I run in the rain, through the heath, down a private road, to the park. The donkeys wave. Two owls peer out. You have a toy airplane in your hand and make it sweep through the air. You lift it up to show the others, making it fly over their heads. Look! you say. Magic. I speak to you and your three little brothers who sit on their bikes, in height order, and stare at me as I jog pass. You tell me to look for the deer. My day takes on a new shape, loses some of its thorniness.

 

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I quickly see that asking you for directions is the wrong choice. It is raining and I am late and you turn your body as you turn the map in your hands. You tell me I’m not far. Your beagle has the look of an impatient child, sniffing, barking, pecking at my feet. Something about Golders Hill Park makes you happy. You say the words over and over, using you teeth to smile, as though the path I need to take will become clearer with each mention. I ask about gold. You flick your wrist from me to the path.

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Where were you looking? Not at me, or at them, but into the distance, beyond the street where we all stood. Your height, that might have been it, or perhaps your recent good fortune, made you distant. You spoke of shopping, holidays and your partner’s recent success. There was gossip. I think we all laughed, you smiled. You wore a gold chain around your neck and that’s all I could see. I pointed towards the heath; you only stared at my hairline. Carrying two bags in each hand, your arm muscles and teeth swallowed the strain. Your conversational skills suffered.

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