'Too many damn refugees, that's the problem.'
'I haven't seen any,' I said.
'Yeah, but they all get off the boats and stay by the port, of course. Since when do you go down to the port, eh?'
'Is it very different then, with them around?'
Regent adjusted his wreath and shook his head. 'It's crazy. You know they wear seals on their heads?'
'Seals, of course. It's a small breed, they're not so heavy. Looks ridiculous. The kids have baby seals and the adults have grown ones – though when they die I guess you have to start from the beginning again, of course.'
'Is that why they stay by the ports? To feed the seals?' We reached the end of the street and turned around again.
‘We're in modern times, aren't we? Not like it's that hard to get fish.'
'How do they keep them wet? Tubs in the streets, and in their houses?'
'Yep. They don’t have problems here, of course.'
'Least you can tell who they are, of course. Can't hide with a seal on your head.'
'Actually, there's so many of them these days you'd be better off with a seal on your head than a walrus on your ankle.'
'Phew.' I adjusted my own wreath. ‘Can’t believe I haven’t seen any.’
‘They’ll be taking over the city soon. Already wanting their own schools, can you believe. Privately funded – not sure how refugees can even afford that.’
‘Crazy, I thought our schools couldn’t cope with the numbers as it was.’
‘Mmm, they’re putting pressure on everything…schools, housing, water…’
The other end of the street, and I paused briefly to adjust my trouser leg before turning. ‘Water?’
Regent looked a bit edgy. ‘I heard something interesting the other day. They’re saying…they’re not just here because of the war. Maybe that’s why they started coming, of course - I don’t know…but what I heard was that they’re here because of the seals. Not enough water where they come from, and it’s getting too warm.’
‘Er, eh? So they’re coming to take our water instead?’
‘Apparently it used to be like here – green all year – and now it’s practically a desert. Sad business.’ We’d reached the intersection again, and I took my wreath off, looking for a spot to drop it. ‘Time to go, I think. I’m late as it is - Rex needs a bath and I’ve got a load of housework to do, of course.’ Regent took his own wreath off and was about to trample it into the ground, but suddenly changed his mind and placed it on my head, then took mine gently out of my hands and put it on instead. ‘See you tomorrow.’
I smiled, and bent to give a tug at the chain around my ankle, pulling my walrus out of the shade of a bench and into the evening heat.
Word count: 480