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At first it seemed as if we’d never run out of things to talk about. We’d talk for hours about nothing in particular. None of it made any sense. At least not to anybody else. If you could have heard us then, it would have sounded like a load of gibberish, just two people talking scribble. But we understood. We could tell what each other was going to say almost before it was said.

Then sometimes I liked to curl up and just listen. I loved the sound of that voice. I didn’t ever want it to end. Every time I thought it might stop, I felt like dying. I was completely captivated. The only thing I wanted was for it to keep on going. I didn’t mind what happened to us just so long as it didn’t stop...

This is how it goes:

– A man wearing a black balaclava is running along a balcony. There is a tiny boat on the ocean and a man is waving goodbye. A space rocket takes off through a cloud of smoke. Two men in uniform are lifting a large bag into a helicopter. There is a man talking to me.

There is a man spinning plates on the ends of long sticks. He gives each stick a shake and the plate balances on the end, spinning round and round. The plates are spinning so fast they appear to be motionless. The idea is to get all the plates spinning at the same time without any of them falling off.
The man runs up and down the rows of sticks, making the plates spin with a flick of his wrist. As they slow down, the plates start to wobble. They’re about to fall off but in the nick of time, the man gives the sticks another shake and the plates start spinning again.

I’m hoping like hell that the man can get back to the plates before they fall. I would hate to see a plate fall. And yet, at the same time, I want the man to spin more and more plates until it is impossible to prevent one from falling. If the man stops spinning the plates now then everything will be OK, nothing will be broken. But I know he isn’t going to stop. He’s going to keep on spinning those plates until they break. I know it’s going to happen. I want it to happen. Yes, that’s what I want even though I know it’s going to hurt.

– Tell me. Tell me what that was like. Tell me.

– That’s when everything started going wrong. Terribly wrong.

Space travel lost its appeal and the ratings began to plummet. You can’t escape the pull of gravity no matter how hard you try to break away. Everybody was in black now , preparing to dump bodies on the tarmac. We were seduced by the sight of blood-soaked asphalt and more down-to-earth matters. Everything was blotchy, over-exposed, with saturated colours and muffled sounds like a crowd of people talking in the next room.

We were fighting a war in the East against the North. I wanted the South to win for the West. If only it could rally round and pull together, form a circle like a wagon train, then maybe it could survive and everything would be alright. It never occurred to me that if the North won then the conflict might stop. I took no pleasure in the North screwing the West or beating the South. How was I supposed to know? I saw a faceless threat and it frightened me. I took my fear seriously then.

And all this time, the boats were getting smaller. Dinghies, row boats, rafts – it seemed as if everybody was heading out to sea and every time they set off they were taking less and less with them. They all needed to demonstrate how much they could give up, how much they could sacrifice without getting lost. And I wanted them to keep on going, I wanted to see how far they could go, how little they could survive on, even if that meant they might not survive at all.

That’s the way it was. The further you went, the worse it became and yet you could never stop. You had to keep on going.

– Tell me.

– You’re sitting at home when a man comes on television and says, ‘Flee your home, leave the city immediately. Abandon all your possessions.’

What do you do?

– Tell me.

– You’re sitting at home when a man comes on television and says, ‘Remain indoors. Do not leave your home or look out of the window. Stay tuned.’

What do you do?