The tram doors gas-whoosh close, the computerised bell dings. She is still surprised by trams that glide and don’t rumble as they pull away from the stop.
The pedestrian crossing is ticking out its quick metallic pitch, so she moves quickly to catch the green lights. The water in her bag glugs.
The small white car waits for her. It needs a new muffler and that squeak can’t be good.
Her cough is turning into a bark, but her sniff is still dry.
The native grass in the median strip whispers trendily.
She turns right. She imagines that when the architect presented his plans for the eco-village, there were children on the lawn, but she walks through here four times a month, and she has never seen a child.
There is the sound of a kettle boiling and a student on the phone. Four essays due in the next three days and I have to work tonight. Someone is eating, the metal repeating itself against the ceramic. Quickly. She imagines it is a silver spoon and the dish is white. Soup is a perfect meal for this time of the day, when the shadows are already long and if your back is not facing exactly the right way, the sun doesn’t give enough warmth. Someone is drying their hair and someone else is vacuuming. They do not need to hit the nozzle so hard against the wall.
The leaves on the Japanese maple rub together. The rustle makes her wonder why it is that this tree still has all its leaves, and the others have nearly none.
A garage door right at the end is whirring, but it never opens. She turns back to check, but it is still closed.
The next shoes she hears make a loud clunk on the footpath, but they are light pink and made of soft leather and carry a small woman. The woman almost smiles. Her lipstick suits the dark of her eyes and the colour of her skin.
Three of the cars at the front of the school have their radios on, all tuned to the same station and not the one you’d expect. None of the windows are down. One woman is reading a New Idea. One has her head back and her eyes closed. One is a man, talking on a mobile phone and with the radio on like that she wonders how he can hear himself think.
A teacher says now when we go up the stairs in a voice which shows she says the same thing day after day, and day after day at least one of the children – a different one to the day before – will push, and another will yell, and another will pull the hat from another who will in turn retaliate.
If school is nearly finished, then she is nearly late for her meeting. Her trousers rub together as she walks. The fabric is heavy and makes a small snap with every second or third step.
She can not tell whether that it is the sound of air or water coming from behind the wall of the Car Detailers Garage.
The phone in her bag beeps the arrival of an SMS. She hopes the news is good, but she won’t look until 5 o’clock. Just in case. It is a big meeting, and she will need to concentrate.
The man on the bike is wearing a helmet which doesn’t fit. His shoes are canvas and worn. He has a cardboard box strapped on to the back of his bike. He says hello in a voice which grates in his throat as he speaks.
She says hello, but he has already gone.
It is an eight minute walk and she is not quite late.