Walking Simone to the bus stop.
What do you see when you see the moon, Donny?, Simone asks.
The Earth’s dead daughter, I say. The moon’s made of bits of Earth. The same stuff as Earth. Did you know that?
No, Simone says.
There was a collision three point five billion years ago, I say. Some runaway planet smashed into the Earth … And all the debris came together to make dear old Luna …
I didn’t know that, Simone says.
The coldest place in the universe is in the craters of the moon, I say. Completely untouched by sunlight.
I didn’t know that either, Simone says.
The moon shines to mock us, I say. To remind us of the indifference of it all. Of the fact that there’s no one bending over our cradle. No one singing us lullabies. The fact that no one knows or cares about our lives …
I don’t think that’s true, Donny, Simone says.
I’m glad, I say. I’m glad you don’t think it’s true. I wish it wasn’t true … You must think we’re idiots.
I don’t think that, Simone says.
The way we talk … Maybe Gita’s right …, I say. There’s something about you. I’ll bet you can see right through us … Can you see through me? I feel that you can. Do you know all my secrets? Do you know what I’ve seen?
I don’t know what you’ve seen, Donny.
Terrible things, I say.
I believe you, Simone says.
Horrors and terrors, I say.
Simone, stopping to talk to a homeless man. Giving him money.
The homeless man, thanking her. God bless you. The homeless man, lifting up his tiny dog for Simone to pet.
The bus stop.
Waiting for the bus.
You’ve heard us talk, Simone, I say. Maybe we talk too much. Maybe we drink too much, but you’ve heard us. We’ve seen through the world. We know that this isn’t how it has to be … We’re not attached to the world. We’re not invested in it.
We’re posthumous, right? We’re post … graduates, I say. Which means we’re already dead. That we died some time ago. We died in the world. The world killed us, each of us. And now we’ve been kind of resurrected with our scholarships. Our studies are a kind of afterlife …
Sometimes I think we’re the end of something, I say. Of some dreadful process. Of some process of degradation. We’ve seen everything. We’ve seen it all. We know the law of the world. The unlivability of the world.
There’s nothing to tie us to life, I say. There’s nothing we want from our future. Because what could change in our future? It’s always the same, always more of the same, always the same old universe of death, over and over …
Sometimes, I think the point is that we have to go to the end – right to the end: to set the controls for the heart of the nihil, I say. To fly right into the nihilist storm. We have to live out our horror to the end. To drive our disgust as far as it can go. Until there’s no more nihilism left.
And sometimes … I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m talking too much …, I say. But there’s so much evil … So much injustice … Is Manchester a good place gone bad, or a bad place with bits of the good?
Simone, silent, looking into my face..
You hate the world, too, Simone – I know it, I say. You’re no different to us. You found the world unbearable and you became a PhD student, just as we did. Is that true?
Simone, silent, looking.
Listen: God draws ever closer, she says. I know it. God will mend us – that’s what believe, Simone says. God will heal us. God will use us to engage with evil and disaster and brokenness and hopelessness. Listen, Donny: We will be found. We will be healed. We will be forgiven. We will be joyful.
How? What do we have to do?, I ask.
Pray …, Simone says.
I don’t know how to pray …, I say
Ask to be remade in the image of God, Simone says. Ask to be sculpted into the image of Christ. Cry out and say, Father, find me, I am your child. And you will be welcomed home. You will be found by the father who made you.
There will be so much love, so much joy, so much reconciliation, so much healing, Simone says.
Is that true?, I ask.
He will set fire to our hearts, Simone says.
Is it true?, I ask.
Pray for a new Pentecost of God, Simone says.
You’re going to help us, I say. And we need help. The whole city needs help …
The 143, pulling up.
Who are you, Simone?, I ask. Why are you like this? Did you just beam in from a hundred years ago?
Pray for me, Simone says, smiling. As I will pray for you.
Simone, getting on the bus.
Do you want me to come with you?, I say. Walk you home? Manchester’s full of crazies.
Good night, Donny, Simone says.
— Lars Iyer