It’s Big and Scary – part two

She had come to the park because on Thursday afternoons there was a man in a blue kaftan who told your fortune. He has many methods, but he is renowned for divining fate from the last paperback you’ve read. Millie hands over her collection of Canadian short stories and ignores his churlish eyes, keenly tuned to rat out any hint of pretension. He inspects the spine and the corners, the inside cover and the deep valleys between the pages. He smells the book. He balances it on his index finger and watches it with one eye, like she had seen a blacksmith do with a sword on a Lord of the Rings documentary. He hands her book back to her and tells her she is resisting the process.

But I haven’t done anything, she says.

With a sniff he gives back her book with her five dollars fifty and advises her to enjoy the sun while it was still out. She does her best to conjour an air of scandal and pulls on Bentley’s leash for a walk around the park. She doesn’t really care. She had been a believer in her youth, but today’s exercise was more about the motions and satisfying a long-standing curiosity about Blue Kaftan’s methodology. Millie considers herself satisfied and is happy for Bentley to choose their route around the park.

There is a large and vocal section of the population determined to convince her that she has no future. That the end is nigh and nigh-er. They walk through the city on Saturday mornings with green t shirts with a trident like footprint on the front*. Bentley sniffs the ground, but she lets it go by because it is a whole body length away from her.

She could go home, but there is no one there. She is in the habit of reminding herself that she wasn’t lonely, she was just alone and there is a distinction between the two. If she needed to talk there were people she could call. A whole list of people. She could even call Lachlan. They were both adults and had been through much worse than this. If he had done anything to hurt her, she hadn’t noticed. Facts about him remained factual and like a struggling DJ she ran the gauntlet of classic hits:

#1. We are very different people.

#2. He isn’t generous.

#3. He doesn’t ask me any questions.

#4. (with a bullet) He snores.

The park is green and has four paved paths that converge in the centre with a collection of feature bushes and perennials. The civic gardener had spelt something out with pansies but she couldn’t read it. What looked like bees tending the petals turns out to be blowflies. She turns around to look for Blue Kaftan. He has disappeared. Except for her and Bentley, the park is empty. She looks down to her pet pig^, who does what he is supposed to do, and makes her smile.

* After the Beast’s initial attack, many people began living in the deep hollows of its footprints in the ground. Most of these dwellings have since become condemned, or converted into public schools.
^After the Beast’s attack, two well-known comedians stole piglets and gave them to the surviving population to cheer them up. Pet pigs remain a common custom to this day.

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