It is North Wales. My lover and I are cycling through a town we pretend is unknown to him. We have begun the process of dressing up for a party, the remainder of our costume stashed in our rucksacks, alongside a veritable cabinet of drugs. I have some sort of clear liquid decanted into small [infant’s] medicine bottles; he has a white powder pressed into folded A4 paper, [that I know of].
We find ourselves in a space between alleyways/behind houses that is also a concrete architectural feature/garden for use by the residents [it is also a thoroughfare for pedestrians and cyclists – or perhaps a desire-line]. Lover strikes up a conversation with a manual labourer who is working the concrete land, re. directions, drug-taking etc. There is a mocking quality implicit in the former’s attitude to the latter that bothers me; the labourer seems flummoxed by my lover: he seems gentle and we are not. In the meantime the vicinity has filled up with elderly bodies moving mechanically with fixed expressions that trouble me. They don’t speak; they fix us with their gaze, which is empty, generalised and disturbing in its sameness. I urge my lover to stand beside me, to reinforce me somehow under the hypnosis of the gaze – their curiosity seems disproportionate. As the tension builds I make the decision to rather theatrically introduce myself, to demystify my self, but my utterance is marked with aggression. Haven’t you seen one of these [gesture to self] before? I am Lauren I am thirty-three I am from Preston, Lancashire, haven’t you heard if it? It’s a shitty town like this, it’s 4 hours north from here, on the west coast of England, it’s up there [gesture upwards], have you never left this place?
He has slipped away. He scoops me up mid-soliloquy [eliciting no response from my audience, their muteness escalating my diatribe, if anything]; we descend through the concrete passageways out into the world.
I am in the passenger seat of a car that is driving through treacherous conditions beyond any conceivable blizzard: snow falls, ice slabs are heaped up everywhere like icebergs, multi-layered sheets of ice around and beneath us. There is a woman in the backseat describing details of her sexual history. My lover is driving and talking to me ceaselessly, unperturbed by conditions I view as suicidal. I express this sentiment thus: I wouldn’t drive in this climate, to which he [nonchalantly] replies: one is safest when one is driving oneself [as opposed to ‘being driven’ on public transport, I presume].
I am silently capturing our situation, visually. My eyes remain fixed on the scenery that rushes towards us, eyes telescoping left to right, taking everything in [pre-emptively, like my driving instructor said: over-anticipating]. I notice that at a distance of about 100 feet a slip road to the right that joins this major road, which has 6 lanes crammed with vehicles travelling at speed: mostly juggernauts, articulated lorries etc [they loom large over this small car]. I notice that cars are joining this major road in the opposite direction, and skidding across the carriageway in a vain attempt to avoid multiple collisions, which occur but to which I purposefully turn a blind eye. Dusk light congeals with headlights and our vision is fuzzy, grey-amber. With calculated ease my lover manages the vehicle; he deftly manipulates the controls in order to drift, most casually, to the far left of the road/dividing us from the commotion, which continues ahead, repeatedly, to my horror. Slow down. keep left (cliff edge, M62, road most travelled as a child, a threshold, white rose of Yorkshire embedded in the rock, pass-over, liminality: “imaginary space of parents” into which we are born, place of perpetually angst-ridden return).