THE SHOULDER

Chris R-1-177Image by Christine Renney

He can’t walk alongside the motorway. He realises that he is saying it out loud but only just. It is a murmured mantra, swallowed up by the roar from the road but it is a mantra nonetheless. He can’t walk alongside the motorway but of course he can. He could so easily make his way down the bank and walk on the hard shoulder, for as long as he is able, until he is apprehended.

He pictures the car with its flashing blue lights, blocking his path. He can see the police officers climbing from it in their yellow hi-visibility jackets and he wonders about their questions and how he will answer, what he might say.

The hard shoulder; it feels right, the name, it seems apt. The ground beneath his feet is hard but it is more than this, more than the unforgiving road surface. Being there on the shoulder is difficult. The noise is incessant and the traffic on his right is no longer a blurred smudge but a wall, shimmering just at the edge of his field of vision and he is afraid to turn his head and look at it.

Being on the hard shoulder is hazardous and he is a danger not just to himself but also to the drivers and the passengers in the cars and the trucks and the coaches. He is walking on their escape route and if one of these drivers were to notice him at the last moment and swerve in order to miss him, to save him, he could be the cause of a major accident, a multiple collision. Suddenly he wonders has it already happened? Has he been pummelling ahead, oblivious, leaving in his wake a trail of destruction?

 

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