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  • Hana Maria

Midnight In The Blackwall Tunnel

I’m drawn to the bitterest things in life, like Montezuma’s Absolute Black Chocolate, which sits on the passenger seat, a better alternative to company. I want to keep driving forever.

The moon is huge and almost full, a seductive doe eye of the universe beyond, but brighter are the strong jewelled streetlamps, lighting the road through London. Before I moved here I’d been disgusted by tales of a Dickensian smog which got into your nose, and when we first got outside the airport and I dropped my favourite hair tie, I was too afraid to pick it up again. The city has changed for me since, gradually more and more familiar, until I can almost trace it in the palm of my hand, seeing my fortune in its streets, the dirt outmatched by my tainted innocence.

The road on the SatNav keeps turning ash grey, threatening to lose the way, but I’m more frightened of getting back than getting lost. This is the first time in twenty nine years that I can afford to run my own car. I spent this month’s wages on insurance and road tax, and while blastbeats strain the speakers, I think about all the mornings of putting my trainers on to go running before dawn, yawning off the weight of dead bodies strapped to my ankles. Dictating written work to a kid (“In a dream. No, rub it out. A. In. A. Dream.”). Coming home and overeating to combat my exhaustion, only to spend the rest of the evening working to burn the fat off my body again, as if to impound a nasty disease. Terrified of this static back and forth, the question “what’s it all for?” stops me from going to bed until I’ve spent time feeding my creative focus. Sleep was always repulsive to me anyway.

Loud guitars from the car stereo but my hands are light on the wheel. The less I grip, the more control I have. If I turned left right now, I could probably find my way to your house. I’m close, but it doesn’t even matter - wherever I go, your face is lurking in the shadow of my thoughts, listening intently to my internal monologue (your fictional self is the only one who truly understands me). That’s what you wanted anyway, why you sent me that song, ensuring that it was all it would take for the memory of you to catch me unawares in every coffee shop.

I relax my mind and the urge to feel nothing between our skin subsides. The less I grip, the more control I have. I am sober and powerful.

I am alone, not lonely, and my solitude builds up inside of me until I feel like one of the wonders of the world, larger than life, searching up, up, up, into the deepest unknown. If I died now, I wouldn’t have to sleep ever again. I wouldn’t have to fight to hold onto this rare and fragile feeling of Absolute Black Happiness that sucks me into the darkness. I wouldn't have to plan tomorrow's fresh battle to defend my right to exist. Industrial music fills the air inside the car and I crank the speakers up further, feeling the distorted sounds through my body. I want to keep driving forever.

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