I looked around the street I was on, suddenly aware of everyone. So many people, everywhere, bustling, walking, running, talking laughing too loud too much. I needed to get away. Normally, I was fine in the city centre. I came here often enough; I was used to it. But every so often, it hit me. The panic would start in the pit of my stomach and work its way up, boiling over, until I struggled to breathe and I struggled to think and I struggled to move.
Like now. I forced my brain to work: think! where is the nearest park? I needed green open spaces. I needed solitude. My legs began to move in the right direction, knowing before my head. I banged into many people, but I didn't care: my eyes didnt see their faces. It took an age to get there. Much too long. But once there, I lay down, on the damp grass in the middle of an empty sports' field, and breathed. My escape. This is where I needed to be. I felt myself relax as my eyes opened to take in the sky above. Clouds take on metaphorical forms, dancing about my head. I smiled.
The world darkened a shade and I looked around me for the cause. A man - a cleaner - using claws to pick up a crisp packet from by my leg. I waved at him, and he backed away slowly. What had I done wrong?
I lay there for a few more minutes before making a whimsical decision. I wanted a walk. I began a stroll around the park, not paying much attention to where my feet were taking me until I was face to face with a house. It wasn't just any house, it was one I knew well. At one time, it was the lodgings of the garden keeper, but when the garden became public property long ago, it had been abandoned. It was a beautiful, uplifting house. The lack of glass in the rotting wooden window frames made them perfect for ivy and wisteria. Old hand-hewn stone made the house. Roses adorned the lawn. Around the house, there were trees. Oaks and chesnuts that once would have been beautiful, but now only served one purpose. They stopped the sun coming in.
Looking up, I could see it trying. Occasionally, it succeeded in finding a break in the canopy, but the trees quickly fixed that. I could see the affect it had on the house and gardens. The roses were brown and shrivelled; their leaves like sandpaper. The grey stones of the house itself looked black, draped in shadow, menacing. Even the ivy looked sorry for itself. What it all needed was a bit of sunshine. An idea formed in my mind faster than I had time to comprehend.
I walked to the nearest store I knew that would sell some. A cheap, fallen-off-the-back-of-a-lorry store. No CCTV. Perfect. Ok, so I felt a little pang of guilt at what I was doing, but I'd never be able to afford what I needed. I drove my trolley down the paint isle, casually browsing the colours. There. Right in front of me. Middle shelf. 'Sunshine Yellow'. Smiling, I filled my trolley with tins and tins of it. I strolled around the store for a few minutes longer, happily confident in what I was about to do. I remembered just in time to pick up a screwdriver to open the tins with.
Then, I walk out. Plain and simple. No questions asked. My soul was leaping. I laughed as I walked back to the park. To the house. To my salvation.
Before I knew it, I had the first can open. I was walking round the side of the house, aiming. I threw it, and laughed. I was doing it! It was such a glorious feeling. The birds were singing for me. I did it again and again, painting sunlight on the side of the house, feeling my spirit reach for salvation as I tried to cover every little stone.
I'm almost there when I see them. Two men in blue. Heading towards me. Handcuffs in hand.
What had I done wrong?