She walked along the path of the canal heading away from town.
Every now and again she kicked a stone with her right army boot, which like the left one was only laced up half-way, she was a bit different.
The stones which she kicked were strewn about the path of the canal in great abundance and this always struck her as being odd.
Odd because they were exactly the same stones that you find on railways, which in fact make up a railway, she knew this well, a couple of years ago she had had a fixation with un-busy railway lines, she would walk upon them instead of roads whenever she could.
She had even stayed all night, two summers ago, in one of those empty work sheds that appear every now and again along the tracks, with never any door in the doorway and never any window in the window cavity.
There was nothing inside these little buildings, they were always the same, just one concrete bench like structure upon the left hand side, there was always a dark upside down V shape up one of the walls were someone had lit a fire, and they always stank of piss.
As she walked along her eyes came up from the stones and her army boots and she saw that the trees were giving way now that she was almost at the bend in the canal.
Not long now, she thought, I will be beneath the bridge soon enough, Christ I hope there are no lunatics out fishing today.
She was carrying two objects and she suddenly swapped them from hand to hand, not because they were heavy-because they were not heavy-but simply because she wanted to and she was in control of this.
She lifted the bottle which was now in her left hand and took a mouthful of the sweet, sickly, thick liquid of Old England Medium Sherry.
Then she held up the little see-through plastic bag which she held in her right hand, it was half full of water and in the water was a large goldfish, a lion head to be exact.
At last she reached the bridge, she looked up and down the canal path but no one was about, she went to the bushes at the side of the path and hung the goldfish bag upon a branch.
Then she placed the sherry bottle upon the ground and stooped low into the bushes.
She re-emerged a few moments later dragging two short pieces of rope, each piece of rope had a breeze block attached to it, she dragged these over to the canal bank, right up to the edge, and then she went back and got the goldfish and bottle.
She sat herself down on the canal bank, with her arse close to the edge and the heels of her boots tucked in close to her arse, she put the goldfish bag between her teeth and placed the sherry bottle upon the ground, behind herself slightly on her right hand side.
Then she grabbed hold of the two ends of rope which were lying upon the ground on her left hand side and pulled them nearer, she tied one around the bottom of her left leg, right above the army boot, and then did the same with the right leg.
She then grabbed the rope which was tied around her right leg and pulled until the breeze block came closer, then she picked it up and swung it over until it rested upon the bank on her right hand side, this done, she pulled the breeze block upon her left hand side closer until they were more or less the same distance apart from her and the canal on both sides.
This is the third day I have done this, she thought to herself as she lowered her booted feet into the cold, dirty canal water, her boots hadn’t properly dried since the day before yesterday, at night she put them on the radiator in her bed-sit but it never got them completely dry.
When her feet and the bottom of her legs were in the water and the rope to the breeze blocks was taunt, she took the bag out of her mouth, looked at the fish and then tipped it out into the canal.
She watched it swim out straight away, out towards the middle, she watched with curiosity , the fan tail yesterday had swam around in a couple of little circles first as if trying to adjust to a larger space of water and the goldfish the day before went nose down until no longer seen, almost in a straight line.
She then shook the remainder of the water out of the bag and folded it in half, then in half again, then in half once more and placed it in one of the pockets of her coat, she didn’t want litter spoiling the place where they were going to find her.
She pulled a tobacco tin out of one of her coat pockets, rolled a cigarette and lit it with a clipper lighter which hung about her neck on a piece of leather.
She looked across the canal to the other side and saw the bit of graffiti, which she was now familiar with, painted on one of the concrete pillars, it read ‘Smudge Sniffs Glue And Fucks Women Here’ and underneath this ‘Melyn Skins’, she grinned and hissed the word “Wanker!” out with her next mouthful of smoke.
When she had smoked as much as she wanted, she lifted the sleeve of her coat slightly from her left wrist and stabbed the cigarette out there, she let the crushed cigarette fall away and looked at the mark, it was just a little black and red circle, just a small, insignificant release of something, nothing.
She let her sleeve fall back into place, the momentary pang of feeling had been once again consumed by the wasteland within and she was now no longer interested with the burn.
She reached behind herself and grabbed a hold of the sherry bottle, took a long swig and slipped into daydream mode, when this subsided she took another swig and with this the bottle became useless, empty.
She swung the bottle out into the canal and watched as it splashed and disappeared from view, leaving behind only ripples.
Heavy things don’t litter, they sink and leave ripples, she thought to herself.
She sat there for another half hour or so but the final urge still did not appear, so she sighed, lifted one leg at a time out of the water and untied the ropes, she stood up and dragged the breeze blocks back over and into the bushes, then she turned and started walking back the way she had came.
As she walked she thought to herself, tomorrow I’ll go to the aquarium shop and buy a veil tail, and then she smiled to herself, for now she had a point in the future to head towards.
“It ripples, it ripples, it ripples”, she kept repeating to herself as she walked back towards town and the living and all the ridiculous misery that dwells there.
First Published in the print magazine Black Petals (USA) Issue 40, Summer 2007