XCVIII | Walking

‘What’s wrong with Jerry today?’
Shuhui asks Tom.

I don’t hear
Tom’s answer.

He doesn’t follow Jerry

who leads me
away from the stone benches,

off the paved road
into the bushes.

a hole in the ground—

exactly how I imagined
a portal to another world
would look like

(instead of a rowan tree).

I have to duck
my head
to fit inside the hole

but it widens out
and automatic lights
flicker on.

‘It’s an underpass,’
Jerry says,

walking ahead without waiting for me.

‘Tom and I use this
‘to get to this park faster.’

I take bigger strides
to catch up with him.

‘I’ve never noticed it before.’

He smirks at me.

‘That’s cuz
‘you like to stick to binaries.’

Every step we take

because the ground
is no longer

but concrete

and the walls are tiled
with white squares

(yellow under the fluorescent lights).

We walk in silence
for a long time.

The tiles on the walls
are perfect.

They are meticulously lined
such that there are only

complete squares

no matter where you look.

But when i stop
to examine the wall closely,
it shouldn’t be possible

to fit
the whole

without cutting it
a little bit.

I even measure
with my fingers.

Jerry snorts at this.

And tells me I’m
not a ruler.

Which is true.

So I’m
less sure now.

I get bored of walking

but the tunnel seems to be

I take out my phone
to check the time.

It’s been an hour
since we left the rest

Will they still be there
when I return?

I glance down
at the chameleon cat

who’s turned
the colour of the tiles,
padding alongside us.

It doesn’t say

But I do catch it

‘Where does this lead?’ I ask Jerry.

He gives me
a mischievous smile.

‘You’ll see.’

I check Google Maps,
just because.

The GPS says
we’re still near the field
in the park
by the school.

What the hell?

I must have said this
out loud

because Jerry sighs.

‘It’s supposed to be a surprise.’

‘So my GPS is working?’
I ask.

He looks offended.

‘Yeah, it is.
‘We’re here.’

I look
in front of me,

at the whitewashed concrete path
lined with two white-tiled walls

stretching forward
in a disconcerting straight line
for miles and miles.

My feet are aching

so I know for sure

we’ve been walking.
Really walking.

What’s the meaning of this?

‘Wait for it,’ the cat says,

sounding too
for my liking.




I see a dark patch ahead.


An exit just like
the entrance we came from.

The white tiles
come to an end.

The tunnel
into a hole

through which we duck our heads
to exit.

I emerge from the tunnel

and stare

at the same

we came from,

my friends
over the stone benches
beyond the bushes.

We’ve come right back
to the place we started out from.

I follow Jerry
back to the stone benches.

‘That’s fast,’
Kumar says.

‘I thought it’d be someplace
‘far away.’

I ask Jerry
what this is supposed to mean

He looks amused.

‘I told you already.
‘There’s no other world,

‘this is all we’ve got.’

What a waste of time.

‘You saw for yourself,’
he points out,


‘no cracks and gaps
‘no entrance to another world.

‘There’s nothing.’

I have no choice
but to say, ‘Yeah.’

Maybe other tunnels,
will lead to the golden city.

Tom kicks the soccer ball
to Jasper,

thanks us
for a game we didn’t play.

‘You can keep dreaming,’
Jerry says,

‘but all you’re doing is rejecting
‘the existence of this reality.’

No matter how far you walk,

no matter how much you imagine.

‘This is all there is.’

Jerry’s eyes turn hard.
His voice is angry.

‘You want me to climb ladders
‘and build castles in the sky
‘for a reality that doesn’t exist?

‘Face it, dude,
‘this world
‘is the only one we have

‘so just be happy
‘with this.

‘Love is something
‘we create for ourselves.’




error: Content is protected!!