The waiting is worst. He can feel the tension beneath his fingernails, his throat parched, dry with dust. There are maybe twenty of them loitering, shuffling off the attention of security, trying not to look as if they are eyeing the trucks and trains.
Night is soon.
Some of the jostling is for distraction. Four guys run as a decoy. There are only seconds to spare. Sprinting, leaping, hiding in one swift, planned move – executed to enter the tunnel. The trick is to keep clinging; the trick is to not fall; the trick is to not run out of breath.
First it was what was written.
She will not look, she will not look. And get out of this city but once and for all. Yet where, where?
Then it was what was done in response.
Fleeing from the people who are everywhere, into their arms, out from their arms, delivered, how, how?
Then came the social divisions.
And where are her family now? Her colleagues? Cohabitants?
And then the dawning of night.
She realises her predictions are wrong, the enemy is not the enemy, she is entrapped. The mess they have made of this land.
It is not over.
Nails hammered into the trunk let him climb to the tree’s big branches. He edged out and hung his legs over, swinging them in the air. The sun was on his face. Then he pressed his palms down into the branch, feeling the tension, lifting himself up and pushing out, out, into the sky. He braced his legs, locked his knees, and then he hit. The earth was soft but the jolt was huge, a giant tremor up through his bones, and an impact that forced his thighs into his hips, breaking his pelvis as he crumpled on the ground.
There is something in human nature, I heard it said, that is disruptive. We favour the underdog, laugh too loud, stare too long, make stupid remarks. We are drawn to sarcasm, cynicism and hypocrisy. We tell little lies, become brave and boastful or lazy and stubborn. We accelerate too fast, brake too late, take the back roads, know better. We laugh at understanding, deride intellectualism, groan at athletes, hate art. We don’t trust anyone and mock experience. We spill pints, turn our backs, mutter spite. Me, I chase bicycles up mountains, screaming at the riders, dressed only in my pants.