Car exhaust unfurls from my neighbour’s garage. I don’t know if they are committing suicide or smoking meat. I roll a cigarette. Have progressed well past a pack a day habit. My cigarettes burn down to wet tobacco and fingernails. If I eat with fingers there is sometimes an aftertaste of tar and smoke.
On Sundays I sit on my front path and read newspapers. The path straight to the west. I see by the setting sun. In the yard opposite a woman plods along and sweats behind a lawnmower. I flap the newspaper so hard the letters and pictures might scatter amongst my cigarette butts.
I turn straight to the classifieds. Russian women are willing to wed gentlemen. Compost can be delivered free. Investment properties are for sale in Norway. In the next section there is a photograph of Liz Taylor. Could her shoulders be that perfect? No freckles, broken capillaries, not even a faint thumb print from someone who refused to let her go just because the dance ended. Real Liz must be mostly bones by now, but her photographic memory is pristine.
My Sofia could sometimes look like Liz in that picture. Frightened and vulnerable her mother called it. That was what she shouted down the phone when I rang to see if Sofia was there. That’s what I had turned her daughter into she yelled. At the time I thought Sofia’s expression meant ignoring me. Not listening. Thinking of someone else. Finding another street like this that only looked different when the wheelie bins wobbled out and lined the nature strip.
I rip out the picture of Liz. I try not to crease her beautiful shoulders. I tear around her slight smile like Sofia’s. Her hands are not in the picture but perhaps they are balled into fists.