Doors of Tunis
By Ailsa Cox
Location: Oxford Road
I don’t know where the hell we’re going. I was meant to give directions. Nick’s car blunders through the back streets in the hinterland between Rusholme and Fallowfield, one blind corner rounding into another. I’ll be late for my class. Late and screwed up. Screwed up and late.
Silence between us. Time to draw another weapon. ‘That poster you brought back for me…’
‘Doors of Tunis. You got it for nothing, didn’t you? There’s a logo, ATB Bank, at the bottom.’
‘There you are again,’ Nick says wearily, ‘you’re so cynical sometimes. I spent hours, hours walking round the Medina, looking for something to bring you.’
‘Sorry.’ I touch his thigh, forbidden now.
‘That was a shitty thing to say.’ He pauses dramatically. ‘And one of those doors was open.’
5.51pm, and at last we’ve reached the highway. Now it’s straight down the Curry Mile. Past the Mughli and the Darbar, onto Oxford Road, past the Infirmary and Manchester Uni and Manchester Met and the College of Music, over the edge of the city centre, heading for the finish, on this, the eleventh day of the eleventh month, shortly after the end of British Summer Time, our seventh month together, which turns out to be the last.
I look at him now while I still can, his iron profile hard as the head on a coin. ‘Why do you think I say those things?’
Because you’re afraid. Because you love me.
But the answer he gives is not the right one. And he doesn’t turn to face me, not even for a second, while we’re waiting for the signals to change by Contact Theatre. Heavy traffic. Brake lights shine through the glossy darkness. But there’s not far to go, now he knows where he is. 5.53 – I’ll be early after all. I check again that I’ve packed my notes and handouts, the right DVD. And my glasses.