‘You’ve got to drive me through the mountains,’ she pleaded, ‘I can’t stand the idea of those tunnels.’
And yet we were in a tunnel anyway, we knew it, and maybe we always had been. We had sped into the arch of darkness, slowed down, steered a moment in the unusual cold, until it felt right, and then we’d jolted the bike forward again, pushed against the headlong wind. We had recognised a pinpoint of light, a tiny gleam that kept growing, and the longer we journeyed in the darkness the more dazzling the light had become, ever brighter, more brilliant, and we leaned forward onto the handlebars, until eventually, like everyone, we had approached the mouth of the tunnel. Then we smashed that motorbike out into the sunshine, momentarily blinded, stunned, and we stayed so for quite a while, until our eyes adjusted and we began to blink and things came into focus and all around us were pebbles and among the pebbles, stones, and among the stones, rubbish, and among the rubbish, small grey buildings, and between, and beyond, pockets of grey men and women, a wasteland of them—ourselves. Instead of letting our hearts sink, we closed our eyes once more and we rode that bike into another darkness, another tunnel, thinking there would be a brighter light just a little farther along, that nothing would derail us, and that belief, like most beliefs, was more precious than the truth.