We’ve got to that point in the film where she knows the killer is on the loose, and she knows he’s coming after her; and we know he’s out in the alleyway behind the house.
But still she opens the back door and steps outside on some totally unnecessary errand, and we’re all yelling for her not to do it. Of course, this story isn’t a film, and I’m not a she, and the door I’m using is to get in through, not out of.
The interior of a car in the darkness is like a confessional, she said. And darkness had already fallen when we set off. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? She asked. The answer curved away from me out of the headlamps’ glare.
What I like about her, love if you prefer, is her Art. I could always say that. And it is true, though it’s not the whole truth. We were going to attend the opening of a small, shared exhibition. Her Art. Mine.
I’m nervous, she said.
You’ve no need to be, I told her.
It was a small event, a long way from home. We knew some of the people there. People we used to bump into from time to time at small events like that, in places a long way from home. The high spots of those evenings, for me, were the drives there and back. They were like the two halves of a game, both of which must be played, but in which it was always the second half where the winning and losing took place. The event itself was just a sort of half-time, a changing of ends, a pep talk or two from the punters, a chance to plan the strategy for the return journey. She’d played a blinder in the first leg.
I like to see your Art, I told her. It’s the frame
through which I can look at you. I can never read her face; not in the gloom-green of the dashboard glow, not in the cool northern light of the studio. She drives me to rash questions.
What is it you want?
I tell her that I’m afraid I have become a hindrance rather than a help. She says there is only one freedom, eventually. Inevitably. I understand, and remember driving blindly through tears with a lover beside me, and threatening to pull the car into the centre of the road until she reached out and took hold of the wheel momentarily.
And , she says, I’m nervous.
And when we come out, the stalker is in the alleyway at the back of the house, and I really don’t have to go, and the audience, if there were one in this deserted car-park, would be shouting, don’t do it!
But now she stands by the car and looks at me, and I hear the click of the locks releasing, and I smile, and open the door, and climb into the passenger seat.
[Last Night's Story was recently published in The Carrot #4 - Twisted Love. The Carrot is an online magazine published by Eden Arts in Cumbria.)