From: Sarah Jones <email@example.com>
Subject: The park
Date: 2 September 2013 8:53:02 AM GMT+02:00
To: Renée Ridgway <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, thea veronika<xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Antonia Bechmann<xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Aziza Harmel <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, jed mcneill <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, Marsha Bradfield <xxxxxxxxxxxx>, Trudi brinckman <xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, alice obrien<xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx, scot cotterell<xxxxxxxxxxxxxx, lucy bleach<xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
The park is two shades of cheap, lucid green. Every tree is the same, laced with something dark on the underside of every broken umbrella branch. The park has none of the greys or the violets of the bush, none of the yellows or the reds of the forest, and none of the blues of the paintings of either. It's kind of a tonal rip off. A bad theatre set that everything is flattened against. The earth loses it curve and nothing has the soft sound of distance. The bicycle track cuts the park in half.
Bicycle wheels prickle the pale gravel making the sound of electrical static. Two wheels - one leader, one follower - an unreversed reflection more perfect than a mirror. They weave in and out of one another, spokes crossing spokes, making the light that splits through ceiling fans. The bicycles wash across the park all day and most of the night; like the water of an old river run meek by the sucking of irrigation.
A little boy runs out on to the path as if from nowhere, bursting from under the bushes that line the track. He leaps into the river traffic wearing the elation of a new discovery. His wide dark eyes seem to change shape as he registers the danger of the wheeled stampede on the gravel plain. White rimmed circles of panic. His skirt hanger shoulder blades make sharp little tents in his blue t- shirt as his shoulders spring up to meet his ears. His fingers crumple in on themselves like dying spiders, his jaw juts forward as his molars meet each other like falling wrestlers. He inhales sharply and makes himself thin and still, he is a little blue bollard, un-breathing and frozen, eyes like lakes.
The bicycles lurch outwards in arcs, the little boy at the eye of the storm, they slide sideways into one another, everything folding into sharp triangles – elbows, knees, peddles, grimaces, sharp breath, sharp yelps, like the collapse of an old chain link fence. Fronts of bicycles meeting one another, forming arrowheads, shooting forward, impaling their doubles. The small boy disappears in the crashing overlap of metal frames. He is surrounded for seconds, by the crunching of metal on metal, and the squealing of skin on skin. He doesn't move.
The calamity - bottle necked at the outer edges - starts to dissipate. The flow of the bicycles slows and corrects itself, spreading like the edges of a shiny lolly wrapper, untwisting with a soft outward pull. The little boy's shoulders start to drop and his tongue moves behind his clenched teeth. His tears save themselves for the last step of his dash from the path. He reaches the balding grass on the other bank of the river road and a burst of dust comes up as he collapses on to the hard worn ground. He sits in a pale dirt cloud, folded into himself like a tiny blue mountain that has broken through low lying smog. He cries silently with his forehead on his bent knee, wrapped in his own thin arms. The dust sticks in the warm, wet lines that stripe his burning cheeks.
The corrected flow of bicycles has resumed and the cyclists slow only momentarily to watch as three white police officers pull on plastic gloves to search three black boys at the edge of the park. Three policemen with tight uniforms and slack eyes, standing over three boys with loose jeans, and eyes as sharp as razor wire. The cyclists check for traffic and pull out onto the road.