Better Than Yesterday – Gary Hughes

The first thing I saw when I looked out this morning was a young girl comforting a small dog whose head had become trapped between wrought iron railings.

Then I saw a policeman fall off his bike, get to his feet, reattach the chain, lift the bike above his head and stamping his feet like a cartoon character smash it to the ground.

To my surprise, I saw three seagulls attack an origami-thin heron that had perched on the roof of Saint John The Baptists.

After which I noticed a young priest I’d never seen before exit the sacristy, looking this way and that, a rolled rug tucked under one arm.

In between, the usual day in, day out.

People rushing towards the metro or for overcrowded buses, almost all of which have advertisements and political slogans on their sides, spreading lies like viruses, selling things that nobody needs.

Delivery vehicles blocking what is already a narrow street, some blocked drivers gesturing or blasting their horns, while others were prepared to wait, their patience a virtue of sorts, I think.

Old women with veiled heads and old men with poorly concealed newspapers entering the church through the front door.

Café owners preparing their terraces. Straightening tables. Arranging chairs.

Unlike my roommates, for want of a better term, I try to look out on a regular basis. Sharpen my saw as often as I can.

Occasionally, I see a woman that looks like my mother.

Sometimes, I see a man that looks like my father.

Once, I saw a boy that looked like my brother but my brother was vaporised, killed fighting a war that wasn’t his, not that wars belong to anybody other than those who start them.

Truth be told and I prefer to be truthful, although that’s how I usually end up in hot water, I spend a great deal of time looking out. Telling myself stories about what I see. Making connections and asking questions. Like, has that priest just stolen that rug and why? Was he even a priest? Was it valuable? Or was there something concealed inside? Which newspapers are those men carrying? What are the headlines and who planted them? And why can’t those birds get along together? There must be enough sky for them all.

However, I much prefer looking out in the warmer months. The way it is now, with the snow still heavy on the mountains beyond, these bars get so cold my fingers cry mercy and I do need to hold on to these bars, so that I can pull myself up to see out the window. The draft makes my eyes water too.

This morning, I saw a girl comforting a dog whose head had got stuck between some railings.

I saw two men running towards them, one carrying what looked like an enormous scythe.

Several people had congregated around the girl and the dog. The girl stroked the dog with her fingers.

Then a removal van blocked my view and I couldn’t see what happened until I saw the girl carrying the dog towards a door leading to the apartments above the deli. The dog was wagging its tail and the girl rubbed its neck.

Twenty minutes later the young priest returned with a different rug.

I look forward to this afternoon.


Gary Martin Hughes was recently published in Necessary Fiction, Visual Verse and The Honest Ulsterman, with others forthcoming. He tweets @GaryMartinHugh1.

The Cabinet Of Heed Issue 32 Contents Link

Image by LORRAINE GRIDLEY from Pixabay 

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