Your viewpoint bounces up and down as you lengthen your steps. Air nibbles your neck and wrists, and cleanses your insides as you inhale. It solidifies slightly as you exhale, white puffs trailing alongside your head like cigarette smoke. The path is narrow, lined with lavender bushes on one side and a main road on the other. You snatch a lavender flower as you stride past, crush it in your hand and devour the scent. The flower’s oil is smeared on your palm. You inhale it till it fades.
The air isn’t as painful as before now, and you relish the fingers of cold reaching under the warm layer of hair to the back of your ears. The cars continue to whoosh by. There are shops around you now. Cracks of open doors of coffee shops leak voices and caffeine. Two men struggle to balance a huge, abstract watercolur canvas. You stop on the path until they both grip the edges and wobble towards a ute. Blue and purple splashes and paintbrush strokes interrupt the dreary street.
People glide by with prancing dogs. Curious, sniffing dogs tied to table legs look longingly at you. A cat slinks between two buildings. Pigeons nervously peck under people’s feet. A florist has pungent yellow roses, $15 a bunch. Echoing white art galleries display Aboriginal art to an invisible audience.
You stop at the lights and press the chilled metal button.
You walk on.