I like still days, like yesterday in London.
They creep up on you softly and, suddenly, you walk out of the house and find yourself in the midst of one. Early winter days, when the sky is a grey so pale, it is almost white. Not a breath of wind to stir the few fiery leaves left on the tree branches. Not a bird to be seen on the almost naked trees. Not a sound to be heard. No squirrel scurries across the lawn. The garden is cloaked in a fine veil of grey, like a dust sheet. Everything is so quiet and still, you wonder if the day is there at all, or if you are drifting through a dream. Then, an insidious, icy dampness unexpectedly permeates your coat, slides its fingertips over the back of your neck under your scarf, and presses its cold lips on your cheek. And you know, the day is definitely there, around you. It has been waiting for you, like an invisible stalker. It is a day that whispers into your ear, “Go back home. This is no time to be out. If you do need to be out, then tread softly in the streets – slowly, and make no noise. Do not be noticed. I will put my arm around you, and escort you to make sure you are safe.”
And so, after accompanying me to the shop for a pint of milk, the still day then walks me back home, its protective arm around me. I know it by its cold breath on my neck, in that bare gap between my scarf and my short hair. It sends a shudder through me. A warning of sinister abilities, although I know I am not on its hit list. Whatever its intentions, they are not against me.
It sees me home safely and counsels me to lock the door behind me. I have no place outside today. It is a day for staying in and looking out of the window, as the grey veil thickens. I put nightlights in glass holders, and watch them glow in the dusk. I make some tea. It has slivers of almond mixed in with the leaves, and the sweet aroma wafts out of the warm yellow teapot. Waiting for the tea to draw, I pour milk into the bottom of a bone china mug and take the tin of porridge oatcakes out of the cupboard. Outside, the street lights come on shyly, glowing faintly in the mist, as though afraid to intrude on the growing darkness.
Everything is still, in a state of anticipation. As though preparing for something. As though something is about to happen.