- Vol. 05
- Chapter 03
Rabbit in Headlights
And just like that, it was as if everything she ever knew was gone in a puff of blue smoke.
They stood in the tunnel where they had met every Saturday since they were teenagers, she with her braces and hoop earrings, and he with his band t-shirts and surly scowl.
She had seen it coming. Should have seen it coming. It had been hurtling towards her like some out of control steam train, heading down the tunnel, headlights ablaze, horn beeping for her to get out of the way, to run, to scream, to move, to do something other than merely watch it approach, passive and calm.
Rabbit in headlights. Pretty good analogy.
The funny thing was, when it came, it was smoke. Ethereal. Transient. Easily blown away on the wind. The colour was unexpected yes, but that was the only thing which was. She stood her ground in the oncoming cloud, only to find that it barely touched her. It wasn’t the screeching of brakes, the smash of tons of metal colliding with bones and flesh, the agony of being dragged half a mile down the track before her body finally gave it up and died. There was no blood. No pain. No noise. Just smoke.
From the middle she could see his hand, extended as though in supplication, or perhaps he was asking for help? Begging her to take his hand and drag him forward, out of the tunnel and the smoke and into the bright sunlight on the other side.
But she couldn’t. Or wouldn't. She hadn't decided which yet.
She was a spectator, watching the smoke billow from the mouth of the tunnel like a nicotine addict releasing their fix from their lungs. Like when they had learned to smoke, he teaching her, in this very tunnel.
Rabbit in Headlights
It looked almost like paint, she noticed idly. Powder paint. Like primary school. Like memories of the scent of Pritt-Stick and glitter, or exercise books and whiteboard markers. Like when they would sit, side by side, she and he, diligently working together on their finger paints, and later their poster paints, and later still oil paint in their GCSE Art coursework, all interspersed with the spray paint which decorated the dark walls she now stood in.
Graffiti is art, if seen in the right context.
If not Art, then Drama. It looked like a flash of light, an explosion on stage, the burst of excitement which precedes the arrival of the Wizard behind the curtain. Only there was no Wizard, just a tired old man living a lie within a world which was made up of stories.
It was Autumn. Leaves crunched beneath her feet. Soon Winter would come, then Spring, then Summer. The world would carry on turning, no matter how far the smoke tried to travel. She had a feeling it wouldn't though. It would stay, in the tunnel, with him in the centre, hand outstretched.
Her only choice was what to do next.