Image by Christine Renney
I am walking alongside the busy road, on the grass verge. The dirt has hardened and is uneven and I stumble and trip but somehow I manage to stay upright and keep going.
I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up but for now it is enough, this compulsion, this sudden urgency to walk on the verge, a surface rutted and lumpen, rocking me this way and that. But somehow, lunging forward, I am making my way and for now, yes, it is enough.
Cars flash past on my right but they don’t slow down and I am grateful. Thankful that I don’t have to fend off their questions and the offers of help. But I do think it is odd I haven’t walked very far from my car and the drivers must of course connect me with it and yet the cars still speed on past.
Perhaps I have become invisible and they don’t see me but I doubt it. Head down in my suit and tie I am of course all too visible. A man running from somewhere, escaping from something. And even if one of the drivers were to pull over, lean from his window and ask the right questions, I wouldn’t have the answers.
I am making for the city but I don’t know what I’ll do when I reach it, and suddenly, I don’t want to follow this road. I feel, desperately, that I need to distance myself from it and the abandoned car. I now feel that my every footstep is being monitored.
I want – no, need – to make my way by a less direct route. To leave behind me a crazy but invisible pattern, a much, much more complicated trail.
And veering to my left I stumble from the verge and move out onto the field, away from the lights and away from the road.
The ground under my feet now is soft and springy and after walking on the verge it feels good. But I begin to sink in the ploughed earth and with every step I take I sink a little more. My shoes are muddy and heavy and I can hardly lift my feet.
I stumble down onto my knees, again and again. I haven’t moved very far from the road and I can hear it behind me, that roar and then it takes a breath.
I gaze out across the field searching for its edge, for the path that runs alongside it, but I can’t find it. All I can see in the failing light is the furrowed earth and the night sky above. And I haven’t any choice but to turn and make my way back.