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Through The Light (Spunk)

Babitha is at ease. The drive is going smoothly and she’s happy with your handling of her old but lovingly maintained sedan since you took over the driving a couple of petrol stations back. When she told you that morning “I think we should get away, get out of the city … I think we should get away from all this commotion”, this is exactly what she had in mind.

You take a look over and see that if she’s not fully reclining, she has at the very least pushed that seat back enough so she is seeing more of the sky than the road, languidly raising a hand to twist the volume down a notch on the drowsy country rock song the mix tape has thrown up.

She likes the tunes, don’t get me wrong - she’s been humming along with them after all, occasionally mustering the energy to actually form words instead of that half smile of sleepy pleasure. But now she’s telling you about her last weekend, and that long, slow afternoon when she just lay in the back yard, under the rusty old Hills Hoist, and watched the clouds between lines.

Blissful, she says, it was blissful. And that’s when it hit her: you’ve been having a shitty time, watching the end of a relationship, knowing that even as you said “you’re the clown” as you watched the door close on you, it wasn’t a line you believed entirely. In truth you had taken on a kind of Nico singing country Lou Reed melancholy and no one can last long like that.

You needed to change pace. Change views. Change.

Listening to her talk now, you fall into a little reverie of your own. To an imagined pedal steel and the clip-clop rhythm of this highway’s plates, you’re picturing yourself picking up and heading not just out of the old life – where it’s clear you’re not even been listened to - not just accepting you’re not much good at this living business, but actually making those changes.

So there you are, heading right “through the light” and into a place where you’re just as good as your friends and exes. Just as deserving. It’s a nice feeling. A cruising feeling.

Babitha nudges you. You’ve been drifting across the lane a bit, mumbling like a walking bassline as your fingers play a distracted pattern on the steering wheel. She grins at you: it’s cool, she says, you looked like you might be perking up at last. You grin back. Yeah, maybe.

She turns the music up, though the tempo stays the same. It’s as unhurried as you two are: it’s got somewhere to go but no pressure to get there either. In fact, now that you think about it, you’ve been slowing down yourself though you have no memory of easing back on the pedal or noticing a speed sign.

Ah, yes. Babitha. you say, can you smell it? There’s a definite salty tang in the air, a thinning of the air that had started as pretty cloying this morning and clung to you for the first few hours of the drive like yesterday’s clothes. We’re close, you say. We’re there, she says. Maybe you already are.


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