These are the things that happen when I am outside the shop sweeping the footpath. I have to keep out of the way of passers-by. I have to be wary of trucks parking right next to me with the reverse tune singing on and on. But people seem to like seeing a person sweeping. There’s something soothing about it. It’s normal. It’s never ending. The footpath gets itchy and I sort it out, and people comment on my work.
‘You’re making a difference, mate.’
‘You’ll be doing that all day.’
‘Come and do mine.’
Two men came past, arguing: ‘That was an Ebola outbreak.’
‘No. There wasn’t. It was meningococcal.’
A man came past in a raspberry and white striped shirt and stood right in my way. A lady carrying an enormous cake box strode past both of us.
The man jumped, and said, ‘My word, I’m sorry.’
Everyone wears masks.
The lady with the cake box wears a black mask. Her shoes are black. Everything matches. She comes past again with a second cake box. I’m taking cobwebs off the fence and starting to feel hungry.
The lady comes past with a third cake. I move out of her way. She says,
‘All good dear.’
There’s a man with two boys. He wears a mask hanging from one ear. They all have the same baseball caps and they walk the same way with their feet turning softly inwards with each step. He is drinking coffee, and they all have paper bags. The boys have cokes.
When they come past, he says, ‘Watch where you’re going you boys. Don’t get in the way.’ The boys, who are not in the way, jump backwards to get out of the imagined way. They cradle drinks against their chests, and one says, ‘Sorry. Sorry.’
An old lady walks past, slowly, slowly, and turns to look at me. She has to turn her head and shoulders to find me, but she does, and she says, ‘Looks very nice, dear.’ Then she turns back and grips her walking frame and continues on.
A lady with a dog, says, ‘Sorry honey, we’ll get out of your way.’
But I am finished. The path looks restored. In an hour it will be wearing its normal skin again. But that’s ok.