Here I am in the treehouse in the playground. There are no children in the playground, my only companions are the wooden animals carved into the wooden struts of the house, and the many texta words written inside. The ink has bled into the wood; the messages are gradually dissolving. They are all about love, even the angry ones.

I feel at home in the treehouse. I’m sitting hunched up, my big black and white coat bunched around me, peering out through the windows at the people walking past on Knesebeckstraße. I’m happy in here, I could set up office. Piled very neatly in one corner is a stack of empty, flattened tobacco pouches. The unfamiliar brands make me more aware of them as objects, and I think of all the times these people’s hands must have dipped into the pouches for another pinch of tobacco, before discarding this well handled, softened object.

I will be here, alone, all day, in the treehouse. No children will come, they are all behind the fence in the school, or preserved carefully from the cold by their parents, wrapped in layers of puffy jackets, too bundled up to be able to move. Their footprints are in the sand and their fingerprints on the railings, but they have given the playground to me for the day. I fumble over the rope bridges, designed for bodies with lower centres of gravity, I thump down into the sand and nod at the empty condom packet half-buried there. I feel pleased in that way that I do when I think: if I was a different person, in another life, I would do that here.

It is very genteel in this part of the city. Looking in the windows of the cafes, there are men sitting very straight, dangling their spectacles in their hands as they read newspapers. No doubt they are wearing cashmere jumpers and their shoes are made from the hide of iguanas, or stallions, or elephants. The trees are spidery in a way that matches the decorations on the buildings, the streets are like women who have dressed carefully for the evening. The playground is the only place for sand and textas, the place where order is remade as the treehouse becomes a fort, becomes a heaven, becomes a prison, becomes a bed. For me it is a balloon for my thoughts to fill.

My thoughts are a big lump, like a mass of caramel popcorn, all fused together. There’s thoughts about where I am now, thoughts about what might have happened in this place, thoughts about my own presence in this place, connections between this place and my past, thoughts about the objects in the place and their possibilites. I think how I would describe this place, grasping for words for it so I can write about it now and have it always. So I can build the walls around me and scrawl the messages into them and put myself inside it again when I’m anywhere else.


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