‘It’s coming,’ the boy says.
‘What is?’ the girl doesn’t seem to understand.
‘The time when the common cold becomes a major fear and they all start to wear the same dull jackets day in, day out, without ever changing. All those women wrapped up in black. Shapeless. I can’t stand it.’
She’s not sure whether she should laugh or not, but bursts out with a nervous titter anyway. I warm up as I pass by them: they make such a nice couple, and the boy is so smart.
People make nice couples – and trios, groups and individuals, too – in general. I could lose all my rigidity and sense of self if I hung around with them too much.
But here, it’s not a possibility. This couple of months I spend here is just enough time to make them a bit more lazy, a bit more dissatisfied, and perhaps a bit more irrational at times, but not enough to get in any way attached.
Hey, how am I supposed to be cold in all this rush? Woman, what the heck are you doing? She elbows me in the stomach and almost knocks me down at the entrance of a Tesco shop. A trail of three young children, all wrapped and capped and scarfed, is following her. One of them notices me as I gather the folds of my robes, and calls out:
‘Look, it’s the White Lady from the legend!’
As I said, irrational. But smart. The mother is not such an outstanding specimen, with only the first trait of character raised to a high level:
‘Hurry up, we’re gonna miss the Christmas bargains! And don’t you talk to strangers!’
The child smiles at me radiantly and follows the shopping robot she has for a mother. Don’t smile back, I say to myself. I need to get colder because it’s already 10th December, and smiling back at children won’t help with that.
I think I should change the area. Go back to the park, maybe; there won’t be any nice boys and girls sitting on the benches now, it’s got too dark. Perhaps I would meet someone bad, and crooked, and scheming a very illegal scheme to rob, rape, or rub out someone else? It’s so easy to be cold with such scum.
But in the park at night I only meet old, poor, disappointed people. They set their ruin down on the benches and try to put it to sleep. Most of them are male, and most of them are not too smart.
But some can see me. I approach one such person, and kneel down beside his bench. His eyes widen as I give him a cold hug. We look each other unswervingly, and the hardest struggle in the world begins: he will be trying to fall asleep in my freezing embrace, and I can’t let him. Not so fast. I’m not ready.
I breathe at him and tell myself: I can be so cold. In fact, I have to because that defines me. And this man will die this month. I’ll take care of it.