You used to live in my pocket. I always wondered if it was time to get rid of you yet. When do I know I have out grown you? I stand and stare at you in my open palms, the dark round sewage pipe of the bin circling you with a black halo. It's time to get rid of you. You've been everywhere with me for half my life. But we all have to leave our lives behind us sometimes.
In the book shop I pick up and put down various publications. The Bret Easten Ellis cover looks like the devil approaching through a sand storm. Next to me a man, about my age, stands rigidly. The book isn't very expensive. I instinctively reach into my back pocket. The feel of the new leather is disorientating for a few seconds. I put down the book and side step along the display table. Books are stacked like bricks waiting to build a home. A biography of Robert Capa. The man side steps. He picks up the approaching dust devil, turns it disinterestedly in his hands, replaces it.
A text: U COMING TONITE ?? CANT WAIT 2 C U AGAIN :)
Regarding the Pain of Others by Susan Sontag. More expensive than Ellis. I hold it out below me and imagine the drain of the black bin beneath it. The man leans in. I smell his breath on my neck. It smells strongly of tomato bolognese. I replace the book. I move around the table. I look briefly to my left. I see jeans. A stripy jumper. Glasses. A benign, forgettable face. I look at the shelf of books right next to me. I immediately forget his face. I see the spine of The Virgin Suicides. I feel him next to me. I reach for the book. My fingers loosen it from the others. I flick it out with my forefinger. I smell the bolognese, mixed with something else – old leather? Burnt wood? The new wallet feels like a hand in my pocket.
I think of you in the bin. I think of the pattern I know is too adolescent for me. I didn't used to mind it. I liked it. I liked its look on you. It was cool then. The till girl is someone I recognise. I think I went to school with her. I say, 'Hey – how are you?' We exchange an uncomfortable dialogue. Behind me I feel the wallet pressing against my right buttock. Behind me I feel the man recede, in reverse, as though automated. The girl smiles at me. I can't remember her name. The smile is grateful. My smile is grateful.
I slip out the new you, open and leaf through it, hand her a note, stuff it with coins. It's not you yet. I don't know where behind my back the man is. The new you goes back to my pocket. Outside is busy. But I don't hear anything. The sun makes the limestone wall of the town hall glow golden, the shops illuminated different colours like books on a shelf. I don't mind the silence.