Her first town was no more than a handful of businesses clustered around a cobbled main street. The chemist was on the one end and the green grocer was on the other, like bookends bracketing the village. Verdant green meadows stretched out around it like that fabric you find on card and pool tables. There were plenty of sheep – fluffy and stupid and plenty of cows – fat and glossy. The air was always pure and more often than not it was damp or misty; the highlands of Scotland did not hold with boisterously sunny days.
“The next town was built on a mine-dump and riddled underground with the tunnels causing the streets to suddenly give way. It could have been a million miles from where she started out; she had tumbled to the underneath of the world, clinging to the tip of Africa. The sun was like nothing she had ever known, a white hot heat that brandished its path through every activity. She would wait for a bus, stunned into silence as the road shimmered, creating mirages. Even the air smelled hot and everyone moved in slow motion.
A brief stop was made on the journey to a town crowded with people, the buildings pushing their way up to the sky like eager sunflowers, no sun reaching the road here. This town smelled like rubbish and people – so many people. The snow that fell was quickly churned into a black mess by all the shoes – nothing like the pure fields of snow, white and perfect she had loved as a child.
And then a final trip back across the equator to her last settling place; it was cool and green and often wet, mirroring the town of her youth. But there were few people like those of her childhood. No, these citizens were loud and warm and joyful, filled with music and laughter. They swaggered down the street with baskets piled with corn on their heads, bright cloths wrapping their bodies. They called out to each other across bustling streets or carried on conversations from taxi cabs to sidewalks. Smiles were freely given, children belonged to everyone.
She stopped and gazed around with weak, watery eyes, all these towns but so many more to see.
Could the journey be drawing to an end??