A very busy day ahead. A very busy week, in fact. It will be Friday evening before I’ve even thought about it. We pack our days with so many things.
After my radio show on Saturday morning I went to the letterbox and found a lovely hand-written card from my friend V who was one of the first people from Authonomy (a long-gone Harper Collins writers’ web site) I met in person. She has been amazingly supportive of me and my writing for years (and her OH is one of those few people I call holy). The closing line of the card was “We who wield words are the quiet warriors.” That made a big impression on me, and the card is going to be stuck to the wall over my desk as soon as I find something to stick it on with.
M and I spent a lot of yesterday clearing out the garage so the builders ca come and do their thing today and in the coming weeks. My office, oddly enough, looks tidier now that I’ve dumped a load of shelves and other things in it. Very odd how the world works.
This morning I haven’t even checked the news yet. Yesterday’s was bad enough. But there were some good things. O went on an anti-war demo in London that was organised by the Drum and Bass community, and wrote in the family WhatsApp later how amazing it was, how many different generations were there, and how friendly and giving people were. The vast majority of humankind are kind – and I am now well over 200 pages into Bregman’s Humankind and still finding new things and learning, and discovering that we are all manipulated into being cynics and into the belief that evil is a prerequisite of existence; it’s not. I hope to be given an argument before the end of the book to give one possible explanation for the existence of psychopaths.
The sun is out. The wind has dropped. I do wake up each morning feeling a certain sense of futility, but then remind myself that there doesn’t have to be a reason for life, doesn’t have to be a reason for writing. Just do it.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 30
‘Don’t be ridiculous,’ Zav says. ‘I know those people. I’ve worked with them before.’
‘What does that mean?’ Aggie says. ‘That you know their innermost thoughts, that you’re with them all the time? That you trust them?’
‘Well … not exactly that. But I’ve never had cause to doubt.’
‘I’m rarely wrong.’ She steps up onto the narrow siding.
‘We’re not near a station,’ he says, and painfully clambers up after her.
‘There’s a door here. We can get out this way without anyone noticing us.’
He hears the click of a lock. ‘How did you know this was here?’
‘I just did.’ She stops him from going through the door. ‘Before we go on, give me your phones.’
‘There’s an echo in here,’ she says, impatiently. ‘You’ve got two phones. You’re bound to have. Give them to me.’
‘And if I don’t?’
‘Then I’ll just throw back onto the track and let them catch up with you and deal with you.’
He snorts. ‘You’re mad.’
‘You’re tracked.’ She sighs. ‘One. Two.’
‘Ok. Ok. Here.’ He hands her the two phones. One the old one Aggie saw back in the house with the fake messages, the other the latest version of smartphone.
‘Nice.’ She steps back down onto the track, throws the first one, with a frisbee action, up ahead of her. It’s a full ten seconds before they hear the smash of it come back down the tunnel. The second one she takes apart, turns off any networking function, takes out the SIM, throws that in the same direction of the first phone, and pockets the rest. ‘That’ll do. I can have a look at it later.’
‘You’re paranoid,’ he says.
‘Very normal, actually.’ She pushes him through the opening in the wall, follows him, shuts the door silently. She leads him through a corridor lined with flickering neon lights until they reach a staircase. She takes the stairs down.
‘I thought we were getting out of here,’ he says.
‘Soon, soon,’ she says. ‘This is the best way.’
‘Stop asking questions. And keep up.’
He shakes his head, bites his bottom lip.
Aggie moves forwards now without pausing. She doesn’t question her innate knowledge of this place. It just is. She knows she needs to follow her instincts, use whatever flickers in front of her eyes, through her mind, to find a way not just through these tunnels but through this whole situation. The answer will come at the end, she thinks. She knows. Right now she needs to find the Blackwoods. She doubts they’re together, and somehow she doubts they’ll be together ever again. Something has fallen apart exactly at the same time as Russia invaded Ukraine, at exactly the same time as the world shivers with fear of a nuclear war, at exactly the time she was hoping to be alone and happy and safe. You’ll never be safe, the old white head told her. Someone will always be hunting you. Don’t be the prey. Be the predator. And all the while, Aggie kept her vow in her head, kept it in a safe part of her mind that no-one could get to, that no-one would ever find. Her fail-safe, her internal sanctuary, her promise not just to that half-dead man, but to herself, and everyone else. A secret promise. I will not kill.