He used the machine like it was work. And he had special clothes on. As if he was digging a hole or cutting a path through jungle foliage. But he was blowing leaves. Well, the reverse vacuum cleaner thing was blowing leaves … he was holding the machine at the end of a dangling arm, swaying a little this way and that to herd the potential mulch incrementally along the footpath.
It took him a long time to get them from one end of the large apartment block to the other. But at least he never had to bend down. Or reach up. Or pull or push anything.
The noise of the blower was almost as invasive as when the builders had been sawing wood on the block next door.
More organising of trees past their prime.
She had a headache. The fridge had broken and she had a report to work on and her son was somewhere in Europe with a laidback approach to communication and the dangers of travel. She closed the doors and windows but the noise still came.
And the image of a man clad in protective uniform moving up and down the street like a lethargic elephant lingered behind her pulsing temples.
In a better time, she would have tried to tell herself that it was probably a harder job than it looked. That perhaps in some way it was more efficient than simply sweeping and collecting the leaves. But now she fantasised about shrieking out of her window with all manner of logic and profanity. Or clubbing him over the head with the only active part of his existence until there was only silence and revenge.
She closed all the windows and doors and felt the stifle instantly.
Later that afternoon, the street was empty. But the wind blew and the trees shook their branches with reckless ignorance. And when she opened the windows, leaves glided spitefully past her gaze towards the pathways below.
And she mourned the peaceful pleasure from the soft rustles and skittering of nature. And the ability to live only in the moment.