it’s 10pm, let’s walk around the racecourse

The scent of fresh grass. It brings me back.

I can imagine the floodlights filling the sky, turning the night into day. I would never be around for something like that – gambling isn’t something I like – and the only thing I could see from the outside were the tall, imposing neon white floodlights.

I would only ever see them from the outside and I have never imagined what it would look like from within. Perhaps you would see the horses doing warm-ups before their run, or you would see people walking around the track to make sure the grass is fine. Maybe people would sit around the stadium and cheer and eat snacks, or they would mull over the statistics and the horses that are being put on for the race.

As I said, I’m not that into gambling. All I know from it is that people do try to make a living out of betting on horses. There are people who would take time off their work to just focus on the maths and statistics behind the horses and then put thousands upon thousands of dollars on horses that would most likely win. Sometimes they’d win big, other times they’d lose more than they bargained for. But it’s a serious sport, I’ve been told, that people spend sleepless night after sleepless night scratching their heads over.

Still, as an outsider, it’s hard to recongize the seriousness of the entire thing. I’ve never seen a horse race, not even after reaching the legal gambling age, and I am not really keen on going to one either. It must be strange, really, when I grew up in the specific area of the city that is named after the entire event and is also the host of the Wednesday runs.

When I was younger, my father would sometimes take me to the racecourse for a little walk. I liked those nights. It gave me something else to do other than going to bed, which signaled the end of the day. I would talk to my dad but I can never remember what we talked about.

The smell of freshly watered grass always clings in the air. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, I’d get to see the sprinkles activate and water them. I would kneel down and tug some of the grass and hold it in my hand, dirt and all. My father would be surprised and then take me to wash my hands, but he never stopped me from doing it again and again.

People would come to the racecourse to do other sports, like rugby and field hockey and soccer. I would comment on how I want to learn soccer and how I used to do field hockey.

I rarely see those people now, instead taking notice the other walkers and joggers that use the path. They’d either come in pairs or they’d be alone. The people in pairs are mostly elders, just casually strolling and having a nice chat, while the people who are alone would stroll at a slightly quickened pace or jog past hurriedly.

When we were friends, I’d text you to ask if you wanted to walk around the racecourse with me. You were the only person who lived in the same area as me that I knew and had a bond with, and you rarely slept early, so you’d often say yes. It would be ten at night and you’d be ready to head out.

We would walk around the racecourse and the same grass smell is in the air. We’d loop around multiple times and stop for a drink and then go through tunnels that aren’t usually on the path for joggers.

You noticed a path on the outside one time and wondered if we could get in. Seeing that there were joggers on the concrete path, you suggested that it was possible. Instead of looking for an entrance, you just crawled through the greenery that separates the concrete path and the all-weather running track. I followed.

It was always nighttime when we went, rarely ever during the day. We had school then and you weren’t keen on waking up early when you had a choice. It was fine by me. At night, they’d usually be done with maintenance of the grass and the smell of wet grass is always stronger.

It soothes me. It brings me back to when I was young and my father still took me to the very same walks that I walked with you.

One time you suggested that we go further, to head out of our district and go to sit by the pier.

The scent of salty seawater.

We stood by the edge of the pier and you took out a pack of cigarettes. I focus my attention on the sea. There were other people around us, all just minding their own business. Some of them were loudly playing music, others were having a nice chat on the stairs. I leaned on the rail and stared down at the dark water.

There were a lot of trash floating on top of it.

The scent and the taste of salty seawater… The sound of waves crashing right in front of me…

It brings me back.

I sit by her on a bench. In front of us, unlike back at home, is an endless stretch of sea. There are no lights reflecting off of it other than the two sets that come from distant ships. At the other end of the sea, instead of the other side of the island, is France.

Sometimes, a car drives by and I get distracted from what she is saying. Other times, I hear the sound of the sea and get reminded of you.

The sea in front of me is cleaner and has never seen you before. I wish that were me.

I wish the scent of fresh, wet grass doesn’t like to the walks I took with you around the racecourse, instead it is just the smell of grass in England after the rain. I wish that the salty tang in the air by the sea doesn’t remind me of the times we sat on that pier, instead it is just a salty scent left by the seawater as the waves crash into the rocks.

Still, the scent of freshly watered grass and the taste of salty seawater…. It all brings me back. It all links me back to you. It is just a shame that I know I am no longer in your mind as you are in mine.

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