THE BOUNDARY

I know this neighbourhood. I know its every twist and turn and all the shortcuts. All my life I have walked its pavements. I first played here as a child and running with my friends we had claimed them as our own. But only I stayed put, working here as a door to door salesman hauling a suitcase and peddling my wares and this was my zone.

I accepted the job gladly, despite its constraints and anyhow whenever I reached a particular point on a particular street and found myself staring ahead all I could see was more of the same. Willingly I had turned around, making my way back time and again and like this the years had been effortlessly eaten away. But life felt good and my wife and I were content and our children became worldly and wise.

I still walk the old routes and, after all these years of gently resisting, the non-existent now feels very real and I won’t, I can’t, cross the boundary.

I sold cleaning products, stain removers, carpet and fabric fresheners, liquid detergents and cream cleansers for the kitchen and bathroom. These products had been miracle cures and dangerously effective. They had carried warnings: ‘KEEP AWAY FROM CHILDREN. AVOID CONTACT WITH THE EYES, WITH THE SKIN’.

I had provided gloves, cloths and wipes, scrapers and squeegees, wash leathers and scouring pads. The brands I sold were unavailable elsewhere and I had been in much demand and relied upon. But despite all of this nobody has taken my place and the neighbourhood is now entirely bereft.

I set out early each morning and from the very heart I gravitate toward the edge, the boundary. I stand at the centre of a path or a beaten track or on the wasteland, staring as if into a canyon. Or I wander frantically back and forth alongside a road. If I could I would walk the boundary, step it out. But it is impossible. I am not Spider Man and I cannot climb the face of a house and I cannot scramble across the rooftops.

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8 comments

  1. chrisnelson61

    I really admire the way in which you manage to seamlessly combine the routine and mundane with the mysterious and surreal in your writing, Mark. I love how this makes you think about the scene, character and ones own experiences. Great work, and thanks for sharing it.

  2. penpusherpen

    Boundaries, Invisible or otherwise, make us want to push against them, it’s in our nature. Impressive way to describe this in your words, I could feel the agitation… xPenx

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