As I left work this evening, an hour shy of sunset, I was struck with that odd, premonition-feeling that something bad was going to happen.
Something feels wrong. Different.
As I walked along Dowling Street, heading towards the highway and the satisfaction of my four-hour-long McDonald’s craving, a warm, determined breeze was whipping leaves from limbs, hissing through them like secrets being whispered frantically in the dark. Leaves were scuttling across the footpath, eddying along the road, buffeted by cars and trucks and farmer’s utes which left behind the stench of manure.
It mingled with the scent of woodsmoke, usually so prevalent at this time of the evening, but now just an echo from houses whose owners are expecting the usual biting cold that has been our constant companion these past few months.
The light was fading. Hazes of soft, blued-out clouds brushed against a large bank of purple attempting to dominate the sky in a demonstration of Winter’s last stand while artificial light spilled from the windows of shops, brazenly late-night trading although it’s only Wednesday.
The golden arches greeted me a block away and I navigated the car park against the highway traffic trying to beat me to the doors. A group of teenagers sprawled across the outdoor tables, caught up in the heady atmosphere of hormones, flirting and the promise of warm weather romance.
As I began to feel hot inside my thick, winter coat, I realised why everything felt so strange, so wrong.
The weather is changing. Today. Right now.
The bone-soaking cold has given way to a balmier breeze, inviting people out of their homes and their cars. Too many people for this routine-obsessed girl. Their presence unnerves me, their carefree eyes watch me as I walk up to the counter and order my two-person-meal-for-one.
They talk too loudly, comfortable amongst themselves. Their voices grate against my anxiety, forcing me into the corner next to the napkins, straws and squishy little sauce packets. I feel exposed and on edge.
My order is called and I rush out of there, past the teenagers and back onto Dowling Street.
As I reach the more familiar path towards the solitude and safety of my home, my nerves settle and I join the rest of the world, lifting my face to enjoy the sunset and the warm, inviting breath of wind that tickles my hair.
Damnit. I forgot the cat food.