Holly and I walk down to the markets, past the massive stone museum with its solitary memorial tree, down the cracked bitumen paths to the river.
The markets are closed. Cardboard boxes, flung from deserted stalls, fill the alleys with their stuck stenches – fish, olives, fruit. Over everything, an air of yesterday’s carnival. Pig skins.
From somewhere, the sound of drums, military marches. The sound fills our steps with a comical insistence. We are marching too, through a forest of wooden beams, that only yesterday echoed with the screams of hawkers, small children and forklifts, the reverse’s bleat. Eaugh-eaugh.
Each moment carries the memory of our departure further from the present tense, though Holly’s hand is in mine and we remain together. Still, the hour draws fresh reserves of meaning from a supposedly bankrupt reserve. If only the market were a space station; if only this was not our final journey together.
One by one, the pounds appear, filled with manic dogs and scampering waifs, rubber balls coated with a gluey saliva. Holly leads me down a different aisle, where the battery hens stagger in their fury. Feathers flood the air as if this space is a snow-dome, tipped upwards by some divine marketeer, the original string-puller, puppet master.
Throughout our departures, Holly holds my hand so tightly, I almost don’t notice that she’s finally gone. On my hands, red weals and someone else’s salts, best wishes and splinters, from a sunbeam.