23 February 2019
It is 8:55am
The stores are not yet open. Inside, young men and women can be seen using their phones. At a Sportsgirl store a teenage girl is curled up against the wall, tapping on her phone. She is wearing dark leggings and a white tank top, both branded.
At the Dymocks bookstore a digital billboard advertises Lynette Noni’s book Varadaesia, and also the fact that the bookstore is raising money for Stafford State School.
On the black plastic table on which I am writing this are my writing implements, a Ted Baker leather satchel (mine), and a disposable coffee cup with the words ‘Archer Specialty Coffee’ written on it. The coffee is a small sized flat white, no sugar. The cup is dark grey except for the writing, which is white. The coffee cost $4.20.
At the table in front of me are two women, perhaps a mother and her adult daughter. They both have plastic bottles of Coca Cola in front of them, and also large coffees each. The daughter has her bag on the table – it is checkered red and dark grey, almost black. I cannot see a brand. Her mother has her phone and a notepad in front of her, and also a blue bic ballpoint pen. They listen attentively to one another, and when one speaks the other places their face on their hands. These movements are identical, mirrored copies of one another.
Two elderly men walk past with mug coffees topped with cream and shavings of chocolate.
A young couple walks by. She is wearing a white dress with red flowers on it, and he has shorts, a cap and a backpack. The incongruity of their clothing is not lost on me.
A middle-aged woman walks by, talking on her phone. She is wearing dark glasses and a bowler hat.
The Dymocks store has opened. Nobody has gone in yet.
A woman pushes an Uppababy pram with a toddler, who is awake and playing with a yellow and blue plastic toy.
A woman in cut-off jeans, a black blouse, and Mary Jane shoes walks by.
A father walks by with his two young daughters. They are both distracted by the food being put out in the metal trays at the Muffin Break kiosk cafe.
The Muffin Break kiosk cafe has the slogan ‘Always Fresh’ in cursive writing. There is a line of four people waiting to order, all women.
A support pillar nearby is painted in grey and black patterning vaguely calling to mind plant- and insect-based shapes. A small signature at the bottom of the pillar reads ‘George Rose’.
Behind me an area that used to have a Stellarossa cafe has been boarded up with white, branded chipboard walls which cover either a construction site or a stripped back fit-out.
The young girl manning the NewsExtra store underneath an escalator (which leads to a cinema) has wheeled out a set of display shelves which contain pink fluffy toys.
A bearded man in an orange turban sits down at a table near to me. He watches people entering the shopping centre while holding his phone in front of him as though it were a utensil of some kind. Occasionally he taps at the phone but he seems generally more interested in the arrivals.
Perhaps a third of the people I can see have sunglasses on their head. None covering their eyes. Close to 80% of the people are women. Most would be below forty in age. There are no elderly people in view any longer. Almost everyone is wearing some form of denim. Some people are wearing thongs, some sneakers.
It is 9:13am.