The hour of shadows came then, scouring the pavement in a carpet of pale crystal cubes which shone with the fairground photograph as if there were nothing more beautiful on this earth. And it took time in its scissored fingers and stuffed it into a bottle, throwing it far out to sea to be washed up on some distant shore.
She tried not to run.
A magic lantern of blue light played out a crisp, bass rhythm that dumped information in disconnected chunks. There was a silver car on its side. A strip of metal had been stretched and curled around one of the traffic lights like a scrawny pole dancer. Men and women shouted instructions, their words cut out and silhouetted into anonymity. Across the street a fish tank of kebab seekers watching from their glass fronted TV set. And everything was caught in the white light of abduction.
She knew she’d got the wrong accident.
His car wasn’t there, just a dark, unfamiliar shape rammed against the small Post Office building. It hissed and clicked out its cockroach protest as the machines tore at its upended flesh. This was some other car, some other mother’s son caught in the place between life and death. This was not her son. Her son would be waiting for her. Waiting in that yellow lit suburb with the same name. A soft road full of cats and driveways, a place for playing out the countless rehearsals, exchanging details and kicking his bumper back into place.
‘Everyone has an accident in their first year,’ she had told him, as if she could build an air bag out of her fear. The police officer blocked her path. And the firefighter leaned against a misplaced profile of metal and took off his helmet.
‘My son phoned me,’ she said, flicking her eyes between them, ‘is there another road?’
They knew. But they took her and unveiled the truth gently as if they were finding it too.
‘No, there must be a mistake,’ she twisted away from them, ‘he phoned me, he told me not to worry, he said it was nothing…’
When they finally lifted the broken casing of blood and bone free, his hand was the only part left that she could hold. But in the shallow waters of that new land, it was so much more than enough.