On badly planned journeys

‘We will walk by the light of the full moon!’ exclaimed the romantically-inclined Angelica as we slunk beneath a canopy of trees obscuring the sky and all its earthly subjects in total blackness. We were armed only with a torch that shone bleakly under the power of its dying battery and the advice to walk in a straight line to regain the entrance. But now there were no drunks to follow, or if there were, they were disguised by the enveloping mantle of the forest night.

We followed the tortuous, twisting path back through the mud as the mosquitoes came out to laugh and my torchlight gently waned towards its final extinction.

Several hours later, while we were stumbling along what may have been the edge of a canyon, the dentist testily told me to switch off my torch. How else could we appreciate the eerie ethereal chorus of unspeakable beasts emanating close by that the flashing fireflies were failing to illuminate in full terrifying embodiment? Otherwise, there was no light for our eyes to adjust to – the path on which we possibly remained was identified only by the potholes and puddles we crashed and splashed though clumsily and sightlessly.

I have largely blocked memories of that journey to avoid flashbacks of my rising panic. I imagined us wandering all night through this living nightmare of heat and assault from the stings of unseen foes. Even then I blocked it out, not daring to face my role in allowing this craziness to unfold.

Finally, and without warning, we wandered out, blinking, from the black hole of the forest. In a clearing, the now renascent moon lit up a narrow lane. A man on a motorbike sat there, his engine idling. He said he’d been expecting us. We clambered on unquestioningly – lest we break the spell. We sped the last few kilometres to the entrance – the wind sweeping through the long mop of dentist hair that covered my face.

‘I told you it’s better at night!’ the dentist yelled ecstatically, and without irony.