Thanks so much for all the messages in response to my longlist news yesterday. Here is the longlisted entry for you to read, as requested by Emma :-)
Driving home. The sudden snowfall caught everybody out and now the city’s roads are gridlocked. Inside my car, hot air blows in my face and on my feet; outside the snow continues to fall and the whiteout gives the darkness a glittery edge. Up ahead, two cars collide, sliding gently, irrevocably, into each other. The drivers get out, stamping cold feet and hugging themselves; no aggression, just puffs of frozen air and resignation.
Stationary now, the cars alongside me like igloos with half-moon windscreens. Solitary drivers talk into phones, explaining, complaining. I have a phone, it’s right here in my briefcase. I don’t bother to get it out. Everybody else in this snowbound city has someone at home who cares that they’ll be late, the kids won’t get picked up, the dinner in the oven will be ruined. Not me.
Time on my hands, time to think: something I avoid if I can. I think about how I never intended this to happen. ‘Hold me,’ she said, and she laid down a path too slippery for a man like me. Like those cars up ahead, we moved towards each other slowly, in stages, unable to stop but painfully aware of the danger ahead. My counsellor tells me to take responsibility. I laugh. I have no idea what this means. I suffer, is what I do. I sit here in my car, and I watch life going on around me. Love and friendship, camaraderie and conversation. It’s a club I belonged to once.
I turn off my wipers and the snow drifts down and hides the world from me. So considerate. Inside my bubble, I play a game: All is as it was before. I reach for my phone. Maybe this time she’ll listen to me.