Clear your mind like a carriageway, the voice from the cassette tape says, with faint hissing and cracking. I attempt not to think about the line I’ve drawn in the dark. Clear your mind like a carriageway… That’s what I’ll do alright. My arms throb with the effort of keeping still. My hand is starting to get numb under my ass. Just the effect that I’d wanted. I try not to think of Julia lying there in the dark, her head lolling around. Who knew a head could so easily be coaxed loose?

I’m trying to lose all feeling in my arms, chanting the nonsensical mantra from the tape, breathing deeply. The tape is just about to finish. I’ve been listening to it for the past two hours. Outside I can hear the raindrops falling, like tap-dancing spiders on the glass.

“Mr Davies, we know you’re in there,” says the police inspector, through the loudspeaker outside.

Clear your mind like a carriageway…

I remember once Julia and I went to watch Swan Lake at the community theatre. It was a ham-fisted attempt but she enjoyed it. How the ballerinas floated up and down the stage, like they were suspended there, from sinews up high. I remember she laughed at the way I kept on looking at their necks, not believing that swans could be that way. I guess I should have known then that the distance between two points is always the shortest, and that necks, just like bridges, collapse in the wind

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