Tuesday, October 2, 2007

5. Revolutions

My angels will guide me, says Joan, the Angel Therapist at the health-food shop where I work part-time. (She has to bob between the dangling feathery dreamcatchers to tell me). According to Joan there’s an angel for everything, even parking, but since parking is what she can never find in the morning I’m not too persuaded to call on the angel for Deciding What to Do about Ahmed While Being Swamped with Work for College.

As I’ve told Jody and ground-floor Brenda, an entanglement is not in my plans right now.

‘Oh, go on with you!’ said Brenda, giggling – a bit excessively, which made me wonder if the angel for Stopping Jim Tempting Brenda to Start Drinking Again is slacking.

Let’s face it, there are bigger problems than this one of mine with Ahmed – not to mention the crackdown in Burma, which Magda says proves her point that peaceful demonstrations are politically mistaken, which in turn made the anti-confrontational Mike furious, and has caused a serious ongoing row.

Well anyway, yesterday afternoon Ahmed offers me a lift into town, and I’m thinking No way! but hearing myself say ‘Hey, thanks!’ – but then you would, wouldn’t you, if someone was just your friend, nothing more, you’d be protesting far too much to say No? And once we’re in town I’m agreeing to go for a coffee, and then we’re wandering through Exchange Square, and the Big Wheel is turning so merrily against the silvery sky that – doom and gloom notwithstanding – we can’t help feeling carefree and decide to go on it.

Well, the man shuts the door and locks it and that’s when I remember I don’t like heights. No chance I’m saying that to Ahmed though - I’m trying to keep things casual and lighthearted, right? And then we begin to move and rise to let the next few cars fill up, and I realize the glass walls curve in beneath the seats. I look down and see receding streets and matchstick people directly below, and I look up again quickly and daren’t look down again. And there we are in a tiny glass bubble, edging upwards and suspended, and as we get higher we start swaying in the breeze.

‘Wow, what a view!’ says Ahmed as we rise towards the top. I daren’t look. I don’t shut my eyes, but I just don’t look, I cling to my seat and concentrate on believing there’s not really just a curve of glass between me and the drop to the concrete city below. Ahmed turns in his seat to look around, and the capsule swings, and I could almost die, I hate him for it - I hate him, I’ve decided.

And then we’re properly turning, we’re swinging down and the buildings and streets and people come in close once more, but then we’re up again, a lens zooming slowly away, and those details disappear and the shape of the city emerges white and gleaming when it must once have been smoky with factories and mills, spreading out in blocks and swirls and filling the wide plain inside a blue rim of hills

I’m looking now, and Ahmed opposite me is grinning, and no, of course I don’t hate him...

We’re on the third revolution when my mobile rings.

A male voice I don’t know. Nervous. ‘Er… Hi.’

I’m hung like angel with vertigo over the city. Somewhere down there in that city is my mystery caller, the guy called Neil. And his voice is in my ear, and he’s asking if I’ll meet him and hear what he has to tell me.

Voting has now closed. You decided that Cat herself would be the most shocked by what Neil has to tell her.

The end of our Manchester Blogstory will be read live by author Elizabeth Baines at the Manchester Blog Awards event at 7pm Wednesday Oct. 10, at Matt and Phred's. Then we'll post it here the following day. Many thanks for reading, and for your patience with the vagaries of blog poll freeware.

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