[Digression To Innocence]

“Wait for me!” I shout, laughter lilting my voice as I stoop to remove my heels so I can keep better pace with the others. They all run ahead, singing and joking as we make our way through the deserted high street towards the main square. After a brief struggle, my feet are finally free, and heedless of the rough, cold pavement, I begin to run too.

The street lights burn bright orange, and the shop windows are a cool white, making the town look surreal, a mixture of shadow and light. Soon I catch up, re-joining the noise and revelry of the others, and linking arms, we briefly attempt to can-can. We stumble and supporting each other we manage to remain upright, all laughing from the very pits of our souls at the sheer fun of it.

“Ah!” someone to my left gasps, grabbing my arm and shaking me in her excitement, “I can see the square!”

We all race the rest of the way down the hill, whooping like gleeful children, and some small part of my mind registers that I’m no longer holding my shoes…

The entrance to the club flashes enticingly, the heavy base from the music within vibrates through our bones even from here, luring us ever closer. The florescent coat of the Bouncer hurts my eyes for a moment, and so I look away, my blurry vision fixing quickly on the large ornamental fountain in the town square.

I hear my friends calling me to hurry up, but something about the fountain looks wrong, and I can’t seem to put my finger on quite what. As my vision sharpens and becomes accustomed to the darkness, I am suddenly jolted by the realisation of what I’m seeing, and a slow, mischievous grin spreads across my face.

I look sideways at my waiting friends, and gesture to the large stone structure before me, my smile growing ever larger, laughter once more bubbling up within me. “Look! Someone’s put bubble bath in the fountain!”

I turn back to face the white, frothy mound, a childlike glee pulling my bare feet slowly towards its sparkling purity. The faint summer breeze rushes across the open square, pulling at the glittering foam until a few small pieces separate and float towards me. I hold out my hands and catch some, looking down at the soft, weightless treasure, before blowing it from my hold as I might have done with a seeding dandelion when I was small.

Before I know it, I am standing on the edge of the fountain, the snowy mountain wobbling like jelly with every faint puff of wind. My friends are soon stood with me, and we all clutch each other’s hands, smiling and giggling like six-year-olds, eyes glowing with joy and simple pleasure as we count, “One! Two! …THREE!”

We jump.


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