• Vol. 07
  • Chapter 10

For The Hope Of It All

I’m conspicuously alone, the itch of parched grass against the backs of my knees. Hunched over a peach, juice dripping down my chin and between my fingers. Slipping away like this blurred, strange summer holiday.

They can’t see me watching them. Most days, I quietly follow them as they walk down to the park. They always set up in the patch of gravel at the base of the park. They’re dressed in matching black sports gear, and I’m their shuffling pastel shadow.

She sets up the speaker, he leads the warm-up stretches. When the beat starts to ripple through the afternoon heat, they start to move.

I have watched for so many afternoons.

The way they move is so effortlessly perfect. They speak silently, instinctively agreeing on when and where to land. On when to seize the sky, when to float back down to earth. They orbit around one another with so much grace. When I watch them, I feel hope balloon somewhere under my ribs.

I never say anything to them.

I feel sticky and sad, staring down at my scabby knees. I lie down and stare at the clouds and let their music float overhead. But it doesn’t work, so I pull myself to my feet and head home.

Mum and Dad don’t say much at dinner, but they look at each other a lot. I have to force myself to swallow every bite of stew. I want to tell them it’s too hot to eat this kind of food, but I swallow those words down too. The back of my neck prickles with sweat. The whole flat smells like onions and thyme.


For The Hope Of It All

I wait until the moon has risen fully. I silently move through the dark kitchen, sliding an apricot and a box of raspberries into my backpack. I’m sure they will bleed their juice into the fabric, but I’ll deal with that in the morning.

Alone under the light pollution, I skip and leap to the music in my head. I’m all angles, all elbows and knees, and I slip and crunch into the gravel a lot. I'm dusty and bleeding a little but I don't care.

The edges of my body melt away in the muggy darkness. The park is holding onto the heat of the day. The low buzz of traffic fades and I dance until the light starts leaking back into the sky.

I’m moving just because I can. Just because I hope one day, someone will see me.