A shop window. A male mannequin lies back in a sun lounger, a pair of sunglasses obscuring its no doubt glossy dead-eyed stare. Its chest is bare but for a vibrant colourful tie looped around its neck. A pair of beach shorts and sandals complete the sparse ensemble. Colours, bright and summery, permeate the display. The brightest blues, yellows, reds, orange. Objects, some thematic and others downright bizarre, are scattered around the mannequin. Deflated beachballs, buckets and spades, hula hoops, inflatable dolphins and so on. The mannequin slinks back in the chair. A content, factory-manufactured look on its face. Its job was done. Its message clear. Summer.
Across from the shop window sits a tram stop. Bustling, busy, and above all, laced with boredom. Men and women crowd around the shelter, many spilling over onto the platform area surrounding the shelter. Condemned souls. Sentenced. Their expressions tell us this. Some struggle to keep their eyes open, the morning hour pushing down on their eyelids. Others are animated, speaking incessantly into hands-free kits, chanting out jargon-heavy diatribes. Most stare down at their feet, or their iPods, their phones, the occasional book, their faces laced with boredom, awash with an ‘I wish I was anywhere but here’ look. Not even a smattering of glorious sunshine, skipping across Edinburgh’s skyline and trickling into the square, can lift their spirits. Yes, condemned. Sentenced. The morning commute.
A man, mid-to-late twenties, stands to the left of the tram stop shelter, a book in his hand. His fingers resting in the same page it has been for a good ten minutes or so. His hair slightly tousled, his shirt and suit trousers combination – the staple of the male administrative Edinburgh financier class – slightly creased. Both the product of an ignored alarm clock and a desperate rush to adhere to the Monday morning demands. Beside him stands a woman, again roughly mid-to-late-twenties, flicking through her phone, earphones spilling down from beneath her perfectly straight dyed red hair. Appropriately for the weather, she wears a dress, a black and white polka dot dress, her arms and legs effortlessly free to bask in the rays of the morning sun. Bright red lipstick, immaculately applied, calls like a siren beneath her alert, phone-scanning eyes. The lanyard draped around her neck is the only hint that work, likely in the financial sector, awaits her at the end of her tram stop. So the man next to her has decided to himself, at least. And he should know. Given that his gaze has been flicking discreetly between the woman next to him and the shop window across the tram lines from him for the best part of ten minutes. His hands twitching. Eyes flickering. Feet treading back and forward on the same spot, wearing the platform thin. Slowly working up courage it seems.
Eventually the man turns and says something, nodding towards the shop window at the same time. And receives no response. The earphones standing between him and his intended destiny. He tries again, this time louder. The woman turns and looks at him. Unsure. Wondering. She plucks an earphone from beneath her hair.
‘Sorry?’ she murmurs.
‘I was just saying…’ stammers the man slightly, ‘I was just saying that guy there looks like he’s enjoying the sun at least…’ again he nods towards the shop window across from them. His soul simultaneously sighing in response to his terrible conversation starter. His face dropping in disgust with himself as he turns away slightly.
The woman stares at him for a brief moment, apparently contemplating the moment, the line, the man. And then she smiles. Surprising the man. Surprising herself.
The familiar sound of a bell peels as a tram edges onto the platform in front of them.
A shop window. Two mannequins, a male and a female, stand next to each in awkward poses. The female mannequin is dressed in long leather boots, thermal leggings and a stylish woolly jumper. And a large black witch’s hat protruding from her head. The male mannequin is dressed in a pair of jeans, a t-shirt-beneath-a-shirt combination and a thin woolly fleece. And a pair of devil horns astride his scalp. Both have slim scarves wrapped around their neck before descending down their chests. The window display awash in pale greens, browns, reds, oranges. Crisp, dying leaves are scattered beneath the mannequins’ feet, pumpkins of all shapes and state of health surround them. Both mannequins stare out of the window confidently. With focus. Their message clear. Crisp. Autumn.
Across from the shop window sits a tram stop. Deserted mainly. The darkness, the pelting rain and the late hour seeing off any potential revellers or crowds, sending them racing to taxis or nearby bars instead. Deserted but for a couple. A man and a woman. Both in fancy dress. The man is dressed as a Ghostbuster, a head of fairly lengthy tousled hair – a product of an after-work nap which left him very little time to prepare for the night in question – the only sign of his standard appearance amidst the bought-at-the-last-minute ghost busting costume. The woman is dressed, in keeping with a good majority of the population of female revellers in the city centre that night, as Harley Quinn. Her perfectly straight dyed red hair the only customisation amidst the cleavagey and short-skirty dimensions of her bought-at-the-very-last-minute costume.
The couple are draped around each other. Kissing furiously, passionately, lovingly. The product of a blossoming relationship and a night of copious alcohol consumption. They break briefly, the woman looking into the man’s eyes with a drunken, sultry look. The man stares up at the electronic display board, trying to will the next tram arrival time down to 0 minutes. Straining with every bit of drunken nonsensical longing in his mind. Well, it was Halloween, he thought. If ever there was a time for some supernatural mind-control nonsense to work then this was it. Unsurprisingly he gives up. Defeated by the obvious lack of any chance of success and by the need to grab the woman once again to resume their kissing. The two entwine once again; kissing, fondling.
The kissing dissolves into an embrace. The woman burying her head into the man’s chest. He kisses her head, pulling her tight to him. As tight as he can. Awash with the feeling that no matter how tight he holds her it can never be tight enough. The woman mumbles something into his chest. She turns her head and smiles up at him.
‘What was that?’ he asks.
‘I said…’ she whispers, ‘I love you.’
The man looks down at her. Struck, despite his alcohol-infused state, by the enormity of the moment. In her eyes he see’s his future, his passion, his love.
‘I love you too…’ he croaks.
The two kiss passionately once again. More passionately than they ever have.
The familiar sound of a bell peels as a tram edges through a collection of sodden leaves and onto the platform in front of them.
A shop window. Three mannequins pose together in a ‘family scene’. A female mannequin, a male mannequin and a child mannequin. All three are dressed in several layers of warm woolly clothing. Hats, scarves, jumpers, jackets. Reds, blues, greens. All the colours of winter festivities. The window display is littered with layers of artificial snow. The child mannequin is flailing exuberantly on an old-fashioned wooden sledge. Its ‘mother’ and ‘father’ mannequins stand either side of the sledge. In the corner of the window a bare, sparse, glittery tree lurks. Delicate, barely-noticeable fairy lights loop around its branches. A snowman sits beneath it wearing a fashionable tie and bowler hat combination. The mannequin family are content. Their message clear. Fun. Warmth. Winter.
Across from the window sits a tram stop. Busy. Very busy. The tram stop shelter almost bursting at the seams, struggling to contain the vast quantity of commuters awaiting the next tram. All are draped in winter jackets, winter coats. Hats, scarves, gloves of all colours dot the tram stop, fighting weakly against the biting cold. Icy, spiteful shards of sleet slap against the roof of the shelter. Some finds its way into the shelter itself, chilling those it comes into contact with. The light is starting to fail as the day approaches the latter part of the afternoon.
Huddled into the corner of he shelter is a man and woman. The man’s long hair is slightly tousled, unkempt – due in large part to the weather of the day. His face a beaming beacon of red, his skin freezing beneath the weight of the chill. He holds a woman close to him, an array of shopping bags clutched in his hand as he does so. The woman, with perfectly straight red hair peeking out beneath a woolly pigtail hat, clings tightly to him. An attempt to generate any kind of warmth. She rubs the small pregnancy bump that is her stomach. Instinctively, paternally. Protecting the growing life inside of her from the cold. She pulls her wet gloves off and gives her hands a futile shake. The engagement ring on her left hand clings cold to the skin, gnawing into her bone. The man stares at the shop window across from the tram stop. Paying no mind to his partner as she wrestles with the cold. Communication channels appear broken between the pair.
‘Where’s this fucking tram!?’ snarls the man. ‘It’s freezing!’
‘Well if I do anything to help you in this tough time then just feel free to let me know. M’kay?’ the woman quips back almost instantly, sarcasm forcefully shoving any semblance of jest out of the tone of her voice.
The man looks down at her with a hint of disdain. ‘Piss off’ he thinks to himself.
‘If you’d learn to bloody drive like you said you were going to then it wouldn’t be an issue would it!’
‘Drop it!’ the man snaps back. The two bodies break from one another.
‘I mean I’m only bloody well carrying your child. But no, that’d take some effort, some commitment from you wouldn’t it!’ the woman looks up at him, disgust in her gaze.
Next to them, fellow commuters shuffle uncomfortably, attempting to exude an impression of ignorance and short-term deafness. Sleet continues to slap against the roof of the shelter.
‘Fucking THIS again…’ growls the man.
The familiar sound of a bell peels as a tram edges through layers of slush onto the platform in front of them.
A shop window. A female mannequin sits atop a bicycle. An empty bottle of lemonade sticks out of the wicker basket attached to the front of the bike. The female mannequin is alone. She wears a straw hat, a long flowing blonde wig cascading out from under it. Her yellow dress is long, flowery. The whole window, in fact, is awash with lemon yellow. The colour of an emergence from winter, a stepping out of the dark months, of stepping into the light. Loose flowers are scattered along the floor along with discarded winter garments (scarves,hats, gloves etc). The mannequin stares out of the window into the distance. Free. Content. Its message clear. Renewal. Light. Spring.
Across from the window sits a tram stop. Bustling and busy as it is every morning in the pre-work rush hour. The daily parade of sleep-deprived, anxiety-laden and boredom-filled commuters make up the population of the platform. Headphones cling to ears like valiant bodyguards, protecting their individual listeners from the need to converse with or acknowledge their fellow human beings huddled around them. A woman yawns as she looks at her phone. Headphones trailing from her phone, disappearing beneath her perfectly straightened black, with hints of a former red dye, hair. She wears a dress. Yellow with white polka dots. In defiance of the slight cold still hanging about the city centre, in solidarity with the changing of the seasons. It compliments her slim, toned figure perfectly. Compliments the sunny, in spite of the temperature, morning. A company lanyard hangs around her neck. She raises her left hand to face, wiping the sleep from eyes with her bare ringless fingers.
A bus rolls past the tram stop on the adjacent road. A man sits on the bus, his head down reading a book. The man has a shaved head. Recently shaved it would appear. The hairstyle of a man sick to the back teeth of dealing with a full flowing unkempt mane of hair. He doesn’t look up at the tram stop. The tram stop is now a no-go for him. Forbidden land almost. Hence the bus travel. Hence the Lothian Bus pass nestling in his work trousers pocket. He casts a fleeting glance towards the shop window opposite the tram stop. He smiles sadly as the bus speeds past, turning his gaze back down towards his book.
The woman looks up as the bus flies past, her gaze caught by the shop window display opposite her. She sees the yellow dress worn by the mannequin and glances down at her own, smiling slightly.
‘At least she’s enjoying herself anyway…’ she hears a man’s voice next to her.
She looks up, pulling an earphone out from beneath her hair, and see’s a man with glasses, roughly her age, smiling back at her nervously. A perfectly gelled hairstyle and a well-tended array of stubble suggests a lengthy morning ritual. She smiles wearily back at him.
‘Yeah…’ she replies, ‘she seems to be.’
The woman slips the earphone back beneath her hair and turns back down towards her phone. The man, disappointed, receives the message and turns away.
The familiar sound of a bell peels as a tram edges onto the platform in front of them.