Audio from Opening Lines, Brighton, December 2018

Just a little reminder to take care this Christmas… xx

The Victim
There’s a blackness so deep it almost glows. And that’s all there is. I’ve an awareness of myself, but nothing more. It’s as though I’m surrounded by an emptiness, a vacuum, that draws me outward to fill it, and it stretches me so thin I almost don’t feel like I exist; and I know that I haven’t the strength to fight it forever. For a half a second I am enough to reflect on what had happened: I remember, like the memory of a dream, the warmth of a fire, presents unwrapping, a scooter I could ride; and then – from out of the darkness – I see the lights of a car, made ghostly by the cloud of wet sleet and snow that’s being whipped by the wind. The lights approach me, faster and faster; and then a dull clunk like two stones clashing. And then I’m alone again, in a blackness so deep that it almost glows…

The Driver
I shouldn’t be here. ButI can’t leave. It wasn’t my fault. But I know I’ll replay this again and again for the rest of my life. I’ll live this forever… I was driving to my parents’ house; there was incessant noise from the backseat; the snow and sleet flew so thick it was like a fog. And then, there was a moment where it parted, as though some divine wind had passed, and by then it was already too late… I can still see her face, strangely frozen, in an eyes-wide-open moment of pure terror.And that’s the image I’ll take with me, branded into my mind. And when I close my eyes to sleep, she’ll be there as well. I curl up and cry.

The Nurse
I check the instruments, but nothing’s changed. She’s in a coma and unless she wakes up soon she’ll stay that way until we shut it down. The man who hit her looks awful– thank God he’s sober. I feel for him, I really do. I feel for her as well… and the family. God, the family! But in this line of work, it’s hard to hold that care and my mind begins to wander. I keep an eye on the readings, there’s not much I can do, and if I’m honest, a part of me is itching to check my phone and see if Hannah’s still on for Thursday. I know it’s insensitive, and so concentrate to hold back a smile at the thought of her… And then I feel a cold wash of guilt as I look back at the girl on the bed, her skin as pale as a ghost, and remind myself that there’s nothing I can do.

The Messenger
I know they’re in there. I spoke to them earlier. I reassured them as well as I could. Over the years, I’ve learnt the knack of that: if you’re too hopeful it makes things harder later on; it makes for an easier shift if you keep expectations low. I resent the times when I deal with this like it’s a job, but it is. Their only child, and she’s gone. Is that a job? Carrying news like this. Is it something you should do so often you’re good at it? Before I open the door – every time – I remind myself that although this how I pay my bills, this isn’t a job. This is about life, and I’ve gotta do what I’ve gotta to do, because someone’s gotta do it.

The Family
She’s gone. There are no words. There is only grief, and the memories that burn.

The T-Shirt
Shit happens.