There is a tunnel under the Thames. I could say it is long, and white, and wet. But I won’t. I will say…
I was walking down from Greenwich and water was all around me. I could see the river full of water, I could feel water in the air, I inhaled and exhaled it. Water was there in the tunnel too. I touched the wall and my fingers sled on the cold wet tile. I stood in the beginning of the tunnel (or maybe it was the end of it), right under winding stairs, looking inside of it and trying to hear the water being all around me.
I couldn’t hear anything. People who walked here tried to be as loud as possible, as if they felt that a moment of silence could make them silent forever. A girl complained about her bloody professor, who is too old to understand what real life is. He made her rewrite the whole thing. The whole what? Was it a paper? A white, square thing. The tunnel was full of white, sqare things.
I stood here rumpling a side of my t-shirt, mesmerised by endlessness and shades of white — rusty, dirty, painted, smeared, scraped, written on. For a moment I thought about my Art teacher from school. “White means purity”, she used to say.
I could see a silent question in my companion’s eyes, it showed through his movement. (Or was it a she?) I opened my mouth to invent an explanation to my stiffness, then I closed it. I looked at him and thought he was weird to act like this. He probably thought the same.
I could say he was short, and funny, and I haven’t seen him since then. But I won’t. It doesn’t matter what he looked like, or what his name was. It doesn’t really matter what my name is. But the tunnel. The tunnel matters.
It invited me in, ensnaring me with sometimes fading lights and a promise of something on the other side. And I walked in.
But at the moment I smiled at the tunnel, making step after step on the left side exclusively, I felt something was wrong. I couldn’t hear the girl anymore, although we left her and her friend behing just a moment ago and she was right in the middle of her saga about the old professor and his shitty lectures.
I turned around to check if she’s fine and saw her pointing at something on the wall. Her friend looked frightened, but I still didn’t know what was happening, as they kept silent. Suddenly water started trickling between the tiles. The girl screamed and jumped away from that place, however, in vain. In less that a minute all of us — the girl with her friend, my companion and I, a guy in a white t-shirt — were covered in water to the ankles.
We hurried up towards the entrance, but it was already too late. Water came to my waist and I couldn’t move normally, the lamps turned off, and there was no light in the end of the tunnel. My shoulders went under water, my chin… It was all around me, I inhaled and exhaled it…
Except it didn’t happen.
The girl just fainted. She was too stressed after her emotional dialogue with her professor; two cups of americano in the morning, a beautifully conducted verbal fight with a porter (all scream and swear words) at the university, and here she is — lying unconscious in front of her friend.
I made a step towards her, when my friend grabbed my hand. “She’s probably on drugs, you don’t want to go there”, he said. I’ve never seen a person on drugs before. Or have I? Do they walk there in the streets looking me in the eyes?
I had to go and ask her. Does she walk in the streets, silently?
But she had already regained consciousness by the time I made the second step. I heard her talking to her friend — that stupid professor sucked all the life out of her. Bastard! I looked accusingly at my friend. He shrugged and strarted walking away.
We just walked through the tunnel. Nothing happened. Nothing at all. I touched its long, and wet, and white walls and couldn’t say a word for a while.
Later, my companion asked me a few times why I loved the tunnel so much. But I couldn’t explain, what hadn’t happened there.