A week of improbabilities

Eric is late. He is not yet comfortably accustomed to lateness. Little does he know that this lateness sparks a week of chain-reactions that spiral through the lives of many; changing them forever. WINNER OF THE SEVEN DAYS COMPETITION 2015

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2. Friday 06/02/15

Jack is relieved. Lana is easier to talk to than he remembers and he decides – after lengthy contemplation – that this is because she’s become less middle-class. After hovering outside the building, trying to pin each other’s lives down and apologising profusely for this meeting that neither of them are really sorry for, they slip inside. Jack knows he ought to pay for her ticket but realises that he was counting on Kira buying them with her discount card and he does not have enough to cover the two. Lana brushes it off and politely lets the conversation sidle towards cut-price ASDA tea bags.

Lana has grown up a lot since school, he reflects, as she stalks towards screen 7 with a scarf draped sophisticatedly over one shoulder. Then she stalls visibly over the matter of Jack’s occupation and suddenly they are both children again – waving goodbye to their education and blithely mocking all the girls who choose to cry about it.

“I’m in an apprenticeship – engineering.” Jack says and she, being Lana, finds something reserved and intelligent to say about it.

They are awkward with each other but have enough to catch up on before the film starts that the conversation avoids feeling like its full of holes. She doesn’t talk as much as she used to, although perhaps he remembers her wrong, but she talks in detail. There is a thoughtfulness behind her words and the age-old precision of her vocabulary has only been polished by the years she’s accumulated.

The film begins too soon and lasts too long. Jack’s eyes slip from Mila Kunis to Lana Massey to Mila Kunis with frustrating fluidity. He loses sense of the plot – although perhaps he never grasped it in the first place – and instead remembers how he and Lana came to this very same cinema to watch Finding Nemo as eight-year-olds.

He begins to make a list of ‘REASONS WHY I AM GRATEFUL FOR THE MAN WHO STOLE MY LUNCH’

I feel like I am now more cultured – if I ever go to morocco, I will know what a falafel tastes like.
I have re-established contact with a friend I would otherwise not have met again. Ever. Probably.
Lana Massey doesn’t mind that we haven’t spoken for months.
I do not have to share popcorn with Kira because Lana Massey doesn’t like popcorn.
Lana Massey is actually quite pret-

He redirects his gaze firmly to the screen.

“Can we watch it again?” Lana asks vaguely as they leave. “I think I must have missed something vital because – as far as I could tell – Sean Bean wasn’t dead by the end. Did I drift off?”

It is at this moment that Jack realises he does not much like Kira.

 

 

Lana is torn. She decides as she waves Jack goodbye at the tube station that she has under-performed as a friend. She has mostly deleted all the bridges built in her earlier life in favour of Flattie and English Literature.

Lana does not, it transpires, actually like English Literature at all. She understands now that there is a difference between having multiple page-bound love affairs and actually having to dissect the words she fell in love with. She knows that her family will not be impressed when she moves back in and when they have to explain to all ‘interested’ relatives that their ‘brilliant’ daughter got kicked off her university course. She also knows that she can no longer continue convincing herself that she is satisfied with her life as it is. Jack has reminded her of everything she has cut herself away from and the evening at the cinema now settles uncomfortably in the back of her mind. It presses her to act. To leave. To not care whether Godot and God are one and the same.

It is 23:15 but she is not tired. Her head is an odd sort of confusion of films and memories and she has an overwhelming urge to walk beside the river. She likes rivers; they make her feel lonely in a pretty kind of way. She believes she has a romantic attachment to melancholy thoughts and that rivers are good places to cultivate such thoughts. It is a lilac-orange night; fog stirs between the poplar trees and the city lights streak gold in the grey fabric of sky. The water is endless and haunting. There are blue-tinged people traipsing the nightclubs but the world by the river is as empty as she sometimes feels.

The night is surreal and it caresses her; she decides that she could get used to being nocturnal. Her loneliness is physical, bewitched by the restless slumber of her life, and today it aches in a pleasant sort of way. The film feels distant. Jack feels detached. She feels slightly sacred as she crosses the Old Bridge. Ethereal. Her mind is a catharsis machine as she walks.

 

 

Kyle is angry. The traffic has been appalling and his engine is faulty. The drive has felt far lengthier than the seven hours of its reality and he wonders why there cannot be a more local supplier of peanuts to do this delivery for him. The city is brash and heavy with clubbers and drunken partially clothed girls. He probably wouldn’t object to this much if he didn’t happen to be in such a foul mood.

He drags his lorry up towards the oh-so-inventively-named Old Bridge, cursing as he is halted by a red light that has no apparent excuse for its existence. He is the only driver on the bridge and he pushes down on the throttle as soon as the glow dims amber.

Kyle’s legs are too long for the cab and they are rioting against him – caught in a permanent and violent seizure. His hammy fingers try to crush the steering wheel, his boots dance upon the peddles like they’ve downed too many beers.

He does not see the girl.

 

 

For Lana, wrapped in the cotton-wool of her thoughts, the night ends unexpectedly. She sees the delivery lorry only when it is a glare of headlights somewhere near her rib cage and an infinitely screaming pair of brakes.

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