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mannequin pollution protest

cheeky mannequin
Originally uploaded by Jeremy Dennis.
Most of the mannequins (and some of the statues) in Pancevo were wearing facemasks, joining in with a protest against local pollution levels, but it would be a crime to cover up that perky grin. And the pollution?

I really began to notice it on the monday morning; there was little wind, and a cap of cloud, over the town, holding down the smog. I had half an hour before the bus, time enough to walk down to the river if I stepped on.

As I turned into the square that led down to the field by the river, I noticed a woman stood with her child, looking down the street, and a few metres further down it, a man in the exact same pose. A little further along was a kid straddling his scooter, just as still. I squinted though the hazy air, trying to see what they were watching, but there didn't seem to be anything there.

I walked down the street ten paces, trying to see what it was that I was missing. A little way past the woman I was stopped dead in my tracks by the sheer weight of sick air, thick sick chemical smog that bruised your mouth and stopped your breath.

For a moment I stood there, stunned, still as one of Pancevo's masked mannequins, wishing I had a mask, and then wondering if what I was breathing could be stopped by a mask.

I wasn't going down the river. I wasn't staying here. As I turned away, the others started moving, too, as if I'd broken some spell; and the man, catching sight of my green hair, scowled at my intruding face.