It is 4:30 in the afternoon, and dusk struck nearly an hour ago. Balancing a hot Styrofoam cup full of strong, black coffee in one hand, I walk slowly down Peckham Road, meandering with its curves until it’s time to turn down a silent street. The park to my left is too much of a temptation not to step into. I hop over the low metal fence and into a thick soup of leaves saturated with the hues of November. Last night’s constant rain has left them glimmering in this evening’s cold, rose-colored haze, but the water hasn’t logged their leathery bodies too much — their wrinkly, veiny skins envelope my tan lace-ups.
One hundred feet ahead, boys in t-shirts run up and down a soccer field, sweating and laughing with hot-red cheeks despite the chilled air that makes my fingertips tingle. I sip my coffee. For a few minutes I watch them play against a horizon of council houses and fast-moving clouds. One boy in a cherry-red tracksuit stands on the sidelines, kicking up his legs, clambering for the attention of his mates who ignore him. The faint sound of bells drifts from the left. An old woman walks slowly, wrapped in mauve, silk scarves and orthopedic shoes. She's accompanied by two, hobbling dogs. The three slowly wobble through the skeletal trees and back down to the road. It is time to finish my walk home when the Styrofoam coffee cup no longer warms my hands. By the time this is written 20 minutes later, a blanket of navy will overtake the light. I will make dinner in a dark flat, enjoying the novelty of days so short you hesitate to blink, and wondering when I won’t be fascinated by the leaves under my feet.