Moss Nook

As we approach Northenden I think about taking a short detour to Marie Louise Gardens and driving from Dene Road West into Mersey Road by going straight across Palatine Road without stopping. At this time of night there would be very few cars on Palatine Road. We would be unlucky to be hit. I stop at the lights at the end of Church Road. Right for Deane Road West, straight on for Kenworthy Lane. Either or.

The light changes to green. I sit there undecided. Erica’s eyes are on me; she’s wondering why I don’t move forward. Eventually, as the lights are changing back, I do.

On Kenworthy Lane I stop outside the little house where I picked her up at the start of the evening. She gets out without a word, then bends down to look back before closing the door. I turn towards her hopefully, but her eyes are hard to make out, the wrap top and its contents lost in shadow.

‘Goodnight,’ I offer, my eye drawn by the amber pendant, which swings clear.

‘Goodnight,’ she says noncommitally and then she is gone.

I drive on to the end of the road, which runs straight for a couple of hundred yards before meeting a confluence of cycle paths and pedestrian routes that extend under the interchange of the M60 and Princess Parkway. After a bend to the right, the road continues in a straight line beyond a row of four concrete bollards. I think about the electronically controlled bollards in town that rise and fall allowing buses to pass over them. At least once a week a car is written off in a collision with one of these. It seems there is an unending supply of motorists who think that if they follow the bus and put their foot down, they will get through in time, and on every occasion they are disabused of this notion by the swift and inexorable rise of the bollards, which strike the bumper or enter the engine compartment and jack the car up off the ground.

With my engine still running, I consider flooring the accelerator and driving at the concrete bollards in the hope that they might sink into the ground. I think about how that would feel, but at the same I capture precise images in my head of what would actually happen.

I remember Moss Nook and the sparkly glimmer of the landing lights. I think that if I return there now and drive slowly along Ringway Road I will see a tall, ponytailed figure walking slowly, tiredly, along the pavement between the restaurant and the runway.

I look again at the line of bollards.

I depress the clutch and select first gear.

Nicholas Royle is a novelist and short story writer born and raised in Manchester; his latest books are a short story collection, Mortality (Serpent’s Tail), and two novellas, The Appetite (Gray Friar Press) and The Enigma of Departure (PS Publishing).

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4 Responses to “Moss Nook”

  1. October 13, 2008 at 11:25 pm, smith3000 said:

    Bloody hell! It seemed like it was going to be one thing and then suddenly it’s something different altogether. A touch disturbing, I thought.

  2. June 12, 2009 at 11:48 am, Ian D Smith said:

    The A6 from Hazel Grove into Manchester never curves once. I like the comparison and awareness of the vast difference between London and Manchester, and the effects.

  3. August 15, 2009 at 11:18 am, Scott Devon said:

    Very nice, Nic. Again you use the effect of the dark journey to reveal your character. Nicely done.

  4. January 18, 2010 at 9:25 pm, Becky said:

    That was excellent. Full of tension, and great portrayal of both characters. I recognised that journey to the Moss Nook very well !


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