by Anoniona Anoniona

I like it here. It's so peaceful. I like to watch the birds, black against the white sky. Sometimes it rains and the water bounces off the pavement and the broad leaves of the trees, or their bare branches in the winter. The water never falls or rises; it's a constant, consistent silver pool, a home to frogs and fish and pond life. I sit on a wooden bench and watch the people pass by: a couple walking their dogs, parents and children, a quiet boy sitting on the rocks, stirring the algae with a stick. A girl in a red raincoat throws a slice of bread from atop a mossy bridge and the ducks below begin to stir.

I could've died today. I rattled the change in my pocket, pacing up and down the aisles of the supermarket. Paracetamol, ibuprofen, aspirin. Painkillers seemed appropriate, a method to permanently end the ache in my chest caused by the shadows that crawled down my throat and settled around my heart. I stopped for a minute and looked at the people around me. Did they know? I didn't think so. A middle-aged woman around picks up a box. Extra-strength. For a headache or for the shadows? I watched her shuffle towards the self-service checkouts. Not today, I thought. Not today.

Did I really want to die? I don't think so, not now that I'm here. It's getting late now, and the couples and parents and children have left. The girl in the red raincoat left before the sun began to set. The boy's still here, though. He throws the stick into the centre of the lake and watches the ripples spread. When they stop, he leaves. He hasn't seen me watching him. Maybe he thinks he was here alone. My numb fingers find a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. The smoke seems to linger in the cold air longer than usual before dispersing. I come here so often that a collection of burnt out cigarettes sits my by feet. I add another to the growing pile and stand up. I should probably go home. The cold crept up so gradually that I didn't really notice it at first, but I'm shaking now. The rain from earlier today has made the path slick with mud and dotted with puddles of various shapes and sizes. I edge my way around a particularly large one and start to walk home.

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