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The Box

Author: Lynn Fraser

I'm painting the old phone-box to the sounds of The Cocteau Twins' Heaven or Las Vegas and very fitting it is, too. It's bloody hot out here, and the day has a dream-tinted quality to it. I've got my factor 30 on and my sunglasses, lest the glare of the intense red before me sends me demented.

This adornment of the now-library-red-box by the Mercat Cross (there's plans afoot for bespoke shelves, by a craftsman in the village, made out of the goodness of his heart) came about as I'd pass it almost daily on my lockdown wander.

'It's a box of communication' I thought, 'so let's communicate'

I'm swaying to Cherry-coloured Funk when I notice the wee lass is back again, watching me.

A red ice-lolly dances around in her mouth to Liz Fraser's dulcet tones and to the beat. Her eyes are wide, mixed with mischief and suspicion. I pop out an earphone, music on my shoulder:

'Can I help?' she says.

I hand a brush into her wee warm fragrant hand, a mix of sun lotion and sticky sugar.

'Why don't you pop some blue around there - just go for it!' I say.

By the time my kid and her pal get back from the village Spar with my bottle of water, the wee lass has sloped off - brush lying in the grass, as if the heat of the sun has melted her, along with her lolly. But her lovely blue marks have been left.

The girls silently pick up some brushes and add to the wild flowers I'm painting.

We've got honeysuckle, cow parsley, primroses, foxgloves going on. They are being cradled, birthed from a pair of hands held close together, palms open upwards.

There's a wide scroll, roughly outlined for now, underneath them, waiting for words to be written.

The rest of the day is a heady, slow mix of burny sun, paint and music. Kids on bikes whirr by, music booms from passing cars and parents and kids walk by with drippy ice creams, panting dogs and words of thanks. Celebratory car horns beep, both neighbours and strangers joyously wave at me while hanging out of car windows pointing, gleefully shouting: 'Yer a vandal and a scoundrel!' and 'I'm calling the 

Folk stop to chat about the art, about covid, about the folk they miss, about the big blue sky and the beautiful day. Some stop by to grab a book from the other side of the box. There's not a lot of painting getting done, and that's lovely.

Neighbours pass by, we chat and I ask their kids if they have a favourite flower. A poppy and a cornflower.

'I'll pop one in for you both, and they should be here when you get back from your walk - so look out for them'' I say. They're delighted and skip off.

I pick up my brush and dive back in for more music. I've got Bowie in the sunshine now.

Hunky Dory.

I'm just at the end of Kooks and hear a loud rumble - my kid is back on her skateboard.

We pack up, while my wee pink arm stings from too much sun, and the blue paint on that cornflower starts to set in the heat.

The open hands hold up a cornucopia of wild flowers and foliage that burst over the box. The now painted scroll reads:

'Let's look after each other.'