When I lived in Edinburgh, I’d open the window wide and watch as life passed by. I’d watch the leaves of the tree outside my flat, listening to the movements of the frozen branches creak like a cat on old floorboards. Or, I’d watch people walking across the meadows. A guy shrieking with laugher as his friend does an impression of a crab. A girl walking briskly past them, arms folded, headphones in. I keep an eye on them until the laughter dissipates, obscured by the tennis courts.
A few years on, with a cat curled on my shoulder, I listen to the street outside my bedroom window. The most notable is the constant, low murmur of water as it flows down the kennel. Apparently, fish used to flow through the town in the gutter-rivers, and if you were lucky, you could grab one with your hand.
The cat stretches his arm and touches my face. Perhaps he’s dreaming about fishing in the leets too.
The sound is interrupted by the clacking of heels on the pavement. It’s 5am on a Wednesday morning. I wonder if they have any idea that there’s someone only a few meters away, listening to the way their footsteps impact the ground beneath them. I wonder if they’ve ever considered the idea that their shoes can be heard from inside a house.
I wonder who this person is. Perhaps it’s someone called Sam, who wants to express their style and wear heels. Perhaps he only feels comfortable doing so when no one else is around. Or maybe it’s someone called Esther on her way back from a big night out in Helston town. Maybe she’s chowing down on some chips with garlic sauce from Helston Grille, humming her favourite song so quietly that only the leet-fish could hear. I wonder if she’ll pass anyone on her way home. I wonder if she’ll mind.
The clacking fades away, and the whoosh of a car gently brushes through the early morning. Where are you going? To work? Where do you work? Who do you work for? Are you driven by money? Do you have any pets? Does your cat touch your face too?
It’s a funny feeling to realise that every person’s life is just as full and whole as your own. They formulate thoughts and words like I do, like you do. They have parents, and their parents have parents, and they’ve all had complex lives too, full of nuances and disturbances and laughter. Maybe they all lie in bed at 5am on a Wednesday morning, and listen to the sound of the kennel too.
This was a piece written back in February for the 'Writing in the Field' module in my Travel & Nature Writing MA with Bath Spa University.