Autumn

 

Spring:AutumnThese swampy autumn mornings looking out over the city he’s never quite sure if Adelaide is real. It’s raining past West Terrace, past the silver beehive of the half-built hospital at the edge of the city, and behind that looks flat, like a painting, mottled black tufts in a hexagonal mosaic against a pearly-white background, black shadows of dark tree-crowns pale and bleeding into the incandescence with the softness of a watercolour. It’s raining over the suburbs and the shapes look faded, and it all looks two-dimensional; it looks like a Japanese painting, he thinks, austere, delicate, sparse. It looks so pretty he hurts.

Thin wisps of fog curl around the buildings like phantom ivy, creep up the walls. He feels fondly about the fog. It makes him think of smoke rising from a cup of hot tea. The autumn city comforts him. The pavements shine and the trees are bones. Fallen leaves form patchworks full of colour against the sides of streets; glossy red like fresh berries, glaring custard yellows, chestnut browns. The sunlight through the clouds is thin and diffuse and it makes everything look beautiful, it makes everything look stately. It makes everything look so very pretty.

He loves walking through the streets, just walking, up Rundle Street to East Terrace to the Botanic Gardens and back past the universities to Elder Park, through Currie to the courtyard of the ANZ House and back, to the fish bones at Hindmarsh Square to roam through Rundle Mall, stopping for each of the buskers. He loves the lines of business types in coats and gloves lined up outside the cafes, and the uni students in hoodies sipping on Farmer’s Union, holding the ends of sausage rolls in oily paper wrappers out to the cold wind before taking another bite, the retiree couples buying tickets to the 2pm shows at the Nova, the groups of children dipping their hands into the fountains outside the state museum.

It’s not his city, he’s only been here a few months, but he’s in love with it. It makes him feel something he’s never felt before- he feels like this could be a home. It’s simple, but he knows he wouldn’t mind living here and growing old here, he wouldn’t mind calling it home. He’s been moving around so much of his life but he has a good feeling.

The wind smells of ozone and the cold pinches at his nose. The wind is blowing his way, blowing the rain-clouds into the city, an advancing wall of softly swirling opaline, and a peal of thunder rolls through the air. Nadia is buttering some toast in the kitchen, and the rich sweet smell makes his mouth water. They’re good friends, she was his only friend so far, actually, but that was okay, and they were going to go see a 10am screening at the Nova today so she was stopping by to have breakfast and check out his apartment, and she’d said it was a pretty apartment. He has a good feeling about Nadia too. He thinks they’re going to be good friends for a long time yet. Maybe not best friends- they’re both new here, and they’d surely both make plenty of other, likely closer, friends- but good friends. He has a good feeling about everything to come. He’s going to be happy here.

She brings out a plate of toast and he pours out some tea into mugs for the both of them and they sit down at the balcony, look out at the city through the glass. The skyline slips slowly into the grey, then there’s a sudden burst of thin pale scars on the window, then another, a certain violence to it as if balls of rain were hurling themselves at the building. The wind blows in spray through the gap above the glass, darkens tiny spots on the shoulders of their shirts, leaves tiny silver drops on their hair. She runs her hand down her hair and smiles at him, a crooked smile, and he laughs. And then the white around them becomes more and more translucent, colours and shapes slowly becoming visible, and soft white glow turns yellow and the rain is past, the sun comes out, everything’s still dewy and soft and new, and the yellow diffuses into the air, the metal on the rooftops shines liquid and slanting light warms their legs. Everything glows.

Author: Ali Zayaan

Ali Zayaan was born in the Maldives, spent his teenage years in Kuala Lumpur, and is currently studying for his Bachelor's degree in Economics, Teaching and International Studies at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, Australia.

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