About a Girl
With the book in my hand, I left the pub. I was alone when I had entered it and I was still alone when I left. I’d had only one drink. If I hadn’t been driving I might have had another. Sometimes I do have more than one, but that time I didn’t. I was heading home with my book; that was the pattern of my days. Surprises were rarely a part of the fabric of the pattern, but surprise would soon visit.
I walked to the pub car park, got into my car, closed the door behind me, dropped the book on the passenger’s seat, and stared through the windscreen at the tall wall of the building in front of me. My sigh misted the windscreen where it hit the cold glass, just a small cloud that quickly began to disappear. I don’t recall why I stayed there, sitting and staring. Possibly I was contemplating; nothing cheerful. Single, lonely, I’m never in a hurry and I’m very rarely cheerful. The doldrums of existence, you could call it. And then the surprise interrupted my morose introspection.
The passenger door opened. A girl got in and pulled the door closed.
‘Let’s go,’ she said, and nodded twice.
She seemed a little bit flustered, buzzing energy. Her eyes were grey, flecked with needles of gold, an electrical storm through sheets of clouds. She gave another geeing nod.
‘Do I know you?’ I asked.
I didn’t know her.
‘What does that matter?’ Twisting to face me, she slapped her hands against her thighs. ‘Let’s go.’
‘Look.’ I leaned on the steering wheel. ‘Someone can’t just get into a stranger’s car and demand a lift.’
‘They definitely can,’ she replied with a slight smile. ‘I just did.’
‘Well I’m going nowhere with you in the car.’
‘Then let’s go somewhere with me in the car. That makes much more sense than going nowhere.’
Biting her lip, she looked around – at the wall in front of us; at the backseat; at the blue early evening hue that was creeping over the buildings.
I remember how confused I felt then, watching this strange girl who had climbed into my car. She was wearing a thin, spangly shirt beneath a denim jacket. Her wrap-over skirt was a mash of colours, the sateen sheen capturing only dull glances of the orange light. Jangling in the footwell, her outfit was completed with untied boots.
As I stared – or maybe gawked – at her, she pulled her hair over one shoulder, a tangle of blonde-reddish waves. The smile that she began to smile was hard to read. Whether it was manipulative, or simple friendly amusement, I couldn’t tell. I wondered if she was appraising me – blues jeans, Warp Records t-shirt, standard Converse trainers, standard haircut – as I was her. My only distinguishing feature would have been my weary look of disillusionment. Whatever. With my thumb strumming the steering wheel, I, too, smiled. I couldn’t help myself.
‘All conventional wisdom says that I should ask you to leave,’ I told her.
She stopped smiling and folded her arms. I’m not sure why I had said it, really. It was supposed to be only quasi-serious; trying to be clever as I weighed up why she was there.
‘”All conventional wisdom . . .”’ she said, mocking my tone. ‘If wisdom is conventional then it is not free thought, so is therefore not wisdom at all, just a stale mantra.’
She was again staring straight ahead at the wall. Her blink was rhythmic.
I thought carefully about how to reply.
‘Surely that means all philosophies can only be exclusive to one person: the person who first proclaimed it. In that instance, few free thoughts could ever be truly reflective of an individual. No thought could ever be unique. So if it makes sense, wisdom must be conventional.’
Arms still folded, she slumped back in the seat. I noticed that she glanced at the door handle.
‘Wisdom and philosophies are nothing alike,’ she said. ‘Not in modern times, although most people claim both without true knowledge of either.’
‘But again, that doesn’t mean wisdom can’t be conventional.’
Frowning, she glanced at me. ‘If we’re just going to sit here and debate senseless and meaningless nonsense then I’ll just go.’
‘You’re freer to go than you are to just get into my car and demand a lift.’
‘I don’t need a lift.’
‘Then why did you get in my car?’
‘Because I want to go somewhere. Anywhere. Away from here.’
‘Anywhere. I literally just said. But still we’re just sitting here.’ She rubbed the patch of skin between her eyebrows.
I thought of what else I would be doing. The answer was nothing, of course. I realised that the girl was probably sitting on my book. Reality like a metaphor. Perhaps because of our brief argument, my initial alarm had wavered. I can still remember, if I ever would ever forget, that my overriding emotion was dreamlike; a surreal feeling that this wasn’t really happening. People don’t just get into stranger’s cars. But I could still feel the vibrancy that had initially climbed in with her. Perhaps a breeze finding my sail after an interminable time spent in the doldrums.
‘Okay.’ I turned the key. ‘Let’s go.’
Looking over my shoulder as I reversed the car, I could sense her staring at me. I wasn’t certain what it meant; whether I had surprised her by agreeing, or if this was a prank of some sort to see if I would. Even if she wasn’t surprised, I was.
I didn’t have a clue who this girl was, or what I was doing. Thoughts of films where a damsel in so-called-distress flags down a stranger, only for an accomplice to steal the car, or worse, momentarily disturbed my imagination. But as we drove down the ramp out of the car park, into the evening, I saw no one.
‘We could go to the top of the town,’ I said as we passed down the road. ‘There’s a good view there. I sometimes go there to read.’
My book must be quite warm by now.
‘So I get into your car just to go somewhere that I could have walked to anyway,’ she replied, fiddling with her phone as she answered. ‘Good idea. Really creative.’
‘Why didn’t you just come up to me in the pub and say that you needed a lift?’ I asked after the silence began to thicken.
‘Because I wasn’t in the pub,’ she said. ‘And I told you already that I don’t need a lift.’
‘Then why did you get in my car?’
When she didn’t reply, I turned to look at her. Her expression, scrutinizing me, was part disgusted, and another part quizzical – a combination of the two.
‘You ask a lot of questions,’ she said.
‘I don’t know you and you got in my car,’ I said, taking care not to form a question. ‘You don’t know me, but still you got in my car. I think that it’s reasonable to ask why you would.’
Again I wondered what on earth I was doing. Her brusque responses had begun to irritate me. I am clearly more suited to colourless days, throughout many of which I speak to barely anyone. I could have stopped then and let her out. It crossed my mind to do so.
Ignoring me, she turned on the stereo and immediately silenced the radio. I watched her tap the touchscreen and inhaled my irritation.
‘I need Bluetooth,’ she said.
I moved my hand towards the screen. The girl grabbed my wrist and placed my hand back on the steering wheel.
‘I wasn’t asking for help.’
‘If you just –’
The screen lit up.
Would you like to connect with … . . / — . / …. . .- .-. / -.– — ..-
For a few moments, I simply stared at the text on the screen before I realised what I was looking at.
‘Semaphore,’ I said.
The girl laughed. A real belly laugh. She put her hand to her mouth. The golden needles in her eyes sparkled.
‘Semaphore is waving flags. Making letters with them.’ She was still giggling.
My palms were perspiring, sweaty against the steering wheel. Everything that I said, this uninvited stranger was making me feel like an idiot. I never have enjoyed looking like an idiot. That’s a large part of why I go to the pub with my book, rather than people.
‘Long day,’ I said.
‘Every day is the same length,’ she replied passively, her laughter forgotten.
We had come to the end of the road. I indicated to turn right, towards the duck pond, away from the more affluent part of the town. Possibly heading here by instinct, this was my usual route home. I thought about suggesting that we could go there but wasn’t prepared for the answer that I would receive, so I left it alone.
‘Hmmmm,’ the strange girl next to me sounded out, for no apparent reason.
I was still driving along with a stranger in my car.
‘What’s your name?’ I asked. ‘I don’t even know that.’
‘A question,’ she said, putting her phone between her legs.
‘Yes, that was a question.’
Jazz started to play; skilful, chattering guitar. It said Grant Green Outer Space on the screen, not a name I knew.
‘Jazz music makes me feel good,’ she murmured.
I was only intending to glance, but something about her kept my gaze. The beginnings of familiarity? I don’t know. She was attractive in an odd way, one that was tricky to pinpoint. Her expressions changed with each moment – from troubled, to curious, to alert . . . – as if she was listening with her eyes.
She stared a thousand-yard stare that went straight through me. Looking at me that way, I felt kind of hypnotised; that same floaty, dreamlike feeling. The light of the setting sun found her face, a sparkle upon her soft cheeks. She frowned slightly.
‘The road,’ she said.
‘You should really be watching the road.’ She sat back, now staring a thousand yards straight ahead. ‘You’re on the wrong side.’
‘Holy shit!’ I corrected the wheel, steering back onto my side of the road.
At that point, I still didn’t really know where I was heading. I didn’t really know where were going, or where we should go. From the corner of my eye I noticed that the girl was rubbing her arms, holding herself.
‘Are you cold?’
‘Questions,’ she said dreamily, staring through the passenger window. She stopped rubbing her arms and placed her hands on her lap. ‘Everyone always asks so many questions.’
‘How else do you get to know someone?’
‘A question,’ she replied.
The tootling saxophone – at least I think it was a saxophone – chuckled at me, laughing in three-four time. We took the next right-hand turn, heading past the town common.
‘Jazz,’ the girl said. ‘Along with classical, it is the only music where the musicians are true virtuosos; where they can really make their instruments talk, to tell a story. You can’t trust music that has words. I don’t like being told how to think. But instrumental jazz . . .’ She increased the volume, raising her voice over the music. ‘I’ll read words if I want to.’
Someone called Kenny Burrell was playing Chitlins Con Carne, so said the digital screen. It seemed that the girl was right, jazz could talk. It was her that I didn’t understand.
‘I assume that you have a name,’ I said, unable to let it go, unwilling to accept defeat. I had avoided asking a question.
‘I have parents.’ She was watching her hands, her thumb rolling over the knuckles. ‘They gave me a name. Everyone has a name. Except, I suppose, some homeless children. But even they will be given a name by the people they meet; something that they will be known by. People can be so preoccupied by giving names to things.’
As if I should have expected a straightforward response.
We were travelling through the stateliest part of the town, where the apartments have the square footage of a medium-sized house. It’s not the area that I live in. We continued past the place that I had first suggested, with the benches overlooking the town. We were away from my home.
Soul Lament was playing, the screen told me. Things had slowed down.
‘However futile questions are, I’d like to know your name,’ I said, trying one last time. It was easier now to be heard over the music. I hadn’t noticed when she decreased the volume.
‘Let’s just pretend that no one has names,’ she replied.
‘We can’t go on down this road, into the evening, as strangers.’
‘No one is a stranger. Even if you don’t know what name they’ve been tagged with.’
‘Just someone that you haven’t met yet,’ I replied flatly, giving a dismissive shrug.
And then she surprised me, this girl full of surprises.
Rather than disregarding what I had said as obvious and unimaginative, suddenly she was clinging to me, hugging my arm. I could feel the slight warmth of her. I could smell the light musky scent of her reddish-blonde hair. I breathed it in. The way that she was bending my arm in an unnatural way at the elbow was uncomfortable, but it was a closeness that I hadn’t experienced in a long while. I didn’t mind the pain. In fact, I liked it.
At the very moment that I thought so, she unclamped herself.
The girl pulled the phone out from between her thighs. She played with it, dabbing at the screen, swiping up and down. Songs started and stopped. Finally she pressed the button on the car stereo, killing the music.
‘I know where we’re going,’ I said. When I faced her she just continued staring through the windscreen and did not respond. The rhythmic blinking and the ceaseless expressions.
What was it about this girl?
A question. So many questions. But suppose that she was right; there wasn’t really one that actually mattered.
She caught me looking her up and down. It was innocent on my part, but who knows what she was thinking – an understatement, if ever there was.
Throughout the absence of small talk and music, I listened instead to the deep sound of the engine, the passing wind, and the road beneath us. The sun was behind the car, deepening, lighting the trees to the side and in front. They watched us go.
A car passed us by, some souped-up hatchback. I could almost feel the bass of its music. For the first time I noticed how few cars and people we had passed. Until then, I couldn’t recall if there had been any at all.
“You don’t talk much,’ the girl said, interrupting the silence.
‘Why?’ she asked. ‘Why don’t you talk much? Most people do.’
‘Two questions,’ I replied.
Folding her arms, she fell back against the seat. I wasn’t certain, but I thought that I had seen the trace of a smile. I had broken through the opaque exterior.
‘I don’t know,’ I continued. ‘Sometimes it feels like everyone else has too much to say. Maybe people like me are necessary, to balance it out. In the same way that you like music without words, I sometimes like the world to be that way. Books are my jazz.’
The girl began to play with her hair, running her hand to the end of the strands and then starting again at the top. Readjusting herself in the seat, she tucked the hair behind her ear.
How far detached the situation was to my normal evening routine bounced to the forefront of my thoughts. We were now more than fifteen miles away from the town border, heading further with each passing moment. I can so clearly remember wondering what the hell I thought I was doing. No matter that I had a destination in mind, I wondered where the night would end.
That was the only time I considered turning around, heading homeward, with or without the girl.
‘I don’t know why men would want a woman to have no hair,’ the girl said then, bumping me back down to earth. ‘Why they would want a woman to look like a little girl. I mean, I do know why, but it’s kind of creepy. I don’t know why they do that.’
It took me a long moment to catch up with her meaning. It wasn’t really a specialist topic of mine. ‘Some women just want to look that way, I guess.’
‘Daddy issues,’ the girl said, nodding.
‘Erm.’ I stifled an awkward chuckle. ‘I . . . don’t know? Maybe,’ I added uselessly.
She was holding her hair, brushing a clutch of it over her chin, peering upward at the scattering sunset. I don’t know if she was thinking about what I had said, or what she’d said. Was there any point at all in second guessing anything about this girl?
‘The longest relationship I’ve had was about six months.’ I’m not entirely sure why I told her that then. I could have told her that I was a trainee lion tamer and she would have been none the wiser. ‘In fact, to call it a relationship isn’t quite true,’ I continued anyway. ‘It was something that just started with a girl who had no interests in anything except for herself. It never really ended, it just sort of . . . fizzled out, I suppose.’
‘But you miss her,’ the girl said.
‘I never really got to know her enough to miss her.’
I turned off the main road. The girl looked at the road sign we passed with what I guessed was completely neutrality. As with every moment since she had first got in my car, I had no way of knowing.
‘I never met her friends and never really knew her family. I very rarely think of her. And if I do think of her . . .’ – I care about as much as you did when you glanced at that sign – ‘it’s probably just because some shit song that I never liked comes on the radio. You’d have hated her,’ I finish, smiling at the girl.
‘I don’t hate anything or anyone,’ the girl said.
Her face was spacey. I noticed that her lower eyelids had started to darken. It could have just been the absence of illumination. The last of the sun, as it ran from the day, once more decided to run its hand over the girl’s face. Her hair was afire, the red turned to orange. The slight dullness beneath her eyes remained, but the sparks within them had not been extinguished.
My mouth was turning dry, intensified by the lingering taste of beer. We had brought nothing to drink. I hadn’t.
‘I still don’t know why you got into my car.’
‘I wanted to go somewhere. I told you that.’
She started to stroke her face, just where the sun was lighting upon it, as if trying to paint it onto the dark patches beneath her eyes. She was staring through me again. Beyond me. Into the wild, empty countryside.
‘And you’d have got out if I had asked you to?’
‘I almost got out anyway, when you started arguing with me.’
I could have said that it wasn’t me who started the argument; that I should be at home, reading my book in peace. Maybe she was trying to start another argument, I don’t know. Her look suggested that she hoped I would challenge her, but it was also vulnerable and childlike, wide-eyed and hopeful.
There were so many silences on our journey, but I wouldn’t say that they were uncomfortable. I quite enjoyed listening to the jazz – I hadn’t really noticed that she’d put the music back on – waiting for what she would come out with next. At one point I asked what animal she would be if she could choose, and she told me that it was a stupid question. I didn’t try again.
The sun was racing us to the horizon. There wasn’t much further to go, but I thought we would beat it there. We passed two old boys – proper country-folk in old-fashioned country clothes – sitting in a bus stop. I wondered what they were talking about.
Bill Evans was playing, whoever he was. It had a barroom piano feel. Cosy and friendly. A Portrait in Jazz.
‘What is your earliest childhood memory?’ the girl asked me out of the deepening blue. She was staring out of her side of the car, at the odd cottage and the agricultural fields; some with crops growing, others with the shadows of livestock.
I didn’t tell her that she had asked a question. My mouth was still quite dry. I thought about putting the heating on, but didn’t.
The girl’s phone was in her hand again, facedown. She was running her thumb over where the logo had been dug out.
‘My earliest childhood memory,’ I repeated. The first image that popped into my head was the fabric wall-hanging calendar with detachable numbers and days. I was obsessed with keeping that thing up to date.
For a moment, I don’t know why, I thought that it was a Friday evening, but then realised that it was Thursday. Fridays at work are always the busiest, tidying things up for the weekend. I already had about fifty unread submissions in my inbox, and more would come in overnight. My inbox is as unending as winter. Fridays, too. Maybe I should get another fabric calendar.
‘You’re avoiding telling me about your childhood,’ she said. ‘That’s interesting.’
‘Sorry, I was distracted. My first memory . . .’
I wondered about it again. What could I remember? How far back? There were few things that I could remember.
‘Being on my own,’ I replied. ‘All of my earliest memories are of doing things alone. I’m an only child, and I didn’t really have friends until I was older.’
I changed down a gear. We were cruising towards our destination. If it were earlier in the day we’d have been able to see the sea.
‘Does being alone scare you now?’
‘What are the rules of asking questions? Is it okay for you to ask them, but not me?’
‘I’m not forcing you to answer.’
She was stroking her arms again, hugging herself, so I did turn on the heating. She watched my every movement and she didn’t contest.
‘No one can ever force anyone to do anything,’ she continued. ‘Out of the two of us, out here, it’s more likely that you can force me to do something against my will.’
‘Well, if you will get in cars with strangers . . .’ Immediately I wished that I hadn’t said it. Even the jazz was telling me that it was a bit of an outrageous thing to say, even if it had been intended as a joke. ‘That was –’
‘In my earliest memory,’ the girl began, stopping me short, ‘I’m with my sister and we’re beside an old barn. We were on holiday somewhere, somewhere in the French countryside. It was our first day and we were exploring. She ran away from me, around the side of the barn. She’s bigger and older than me. Faster. I ran after her but couldn’t see her on the other side of the barn. I called after her, but she didn’t answer. There was nowhere else that she could have gone.
‘I started walking beside the barn, looking everywhere, and then I looked up and saw the biggest bird that I had ever seen. I think it was an eagle. If I was with my sister it would have been exciting, but instead – I don’t know, maybe by the way that it was looking at me – I thought that it was going to swoop down and pick me up, fly away, and feed little bits of me to its chicks.
‘I can still remember staring at its talons gripping onto the old rotten wood. I tried to tell myself to run away, but I was frozen, and the eagle just carried on staring down at me. I remember how it flickered its eyebrows – or whatever they have for eyebrows.’
The girl had closed her eyes. Even so, she was looking up, picturing the eagle on the roof of the barn. I could hear her breathing, matching the pace of the jazz, bar to bar. She was transfixed. I wanted to step into her memory, shoo away the eagle and carry her back to her family – she looked that terrified, lost and helpless.
‘And then, all of a sudden, the eagle looked to my left. Something hit my leg. I could hear the sound. I spun around and my sister was standing there with a horse whip that she’d found. “Run little pony,” she said to me. “Run or I’ll whip you!” She swiped at me, just missing my leg. So she swiped again and hit me.’
The sun had mostly disappeared by then, so I could make out only parts of the girl’s face clearly. She opened her eyes and spared me a disinterested glance. She reached down and rubbed the back of her calf.
‘What about the eagle?’ I asked.
‘I don’t know. I tried to run away from my sister, being whipped all the way. The next day my legs were covered in red welts. But anyway,’ she said, readjusting herself and picking up her phone. ‘That was better that than being eaten alive by an eagle.’
For the little left of the journey, we again carried on through silence. I was thinking about her story; perhaps trying to make a puzzle out of triangles and squares.
‘We’re nearly there now,’ I said.
Even so, she changed the music to something new. Something unnamed on the screen. Trance music, dark and trippy.
‘Sometimes I like to put this on,’ she stated matter-of-factly, turning to me.
She began to move her head from side to side, as loose and wobbly as a new-born’s. It made me feel uncomfortable.
A minute or so later we pulled into the car park and looked out at the sea, a dark slick with ripples bouncing upon it. There were a few fishing boats out there, their lights gently moving with the surface.
‘Let’s go,’ the girl said, opening the door without a glance at me.
My book was still on the seat. It reminded me that I was more than forty minutes from home. We had arrived at the coast at just about the same time as the last light left day, even though the sun had disappeared. The sunset had won our race.
I caught up to her, striding along the front.
‘We could go for a drink, if you like.’
‘I don’t understand why people do that so much,’ she replied, facing the sea ‘People would rather be inside intoxicating themselves than outside in the free air. This way.’
I was struggling to keep up, both physically and with the way her mind processed just about everything I said. I followed the girl to an old rowboat. The bottom had rotted out, just the husk of the hull left there. The girl looked at the inside, her hands on the edge of the boat, peering in, poring over every inch of it, as if working out how it might come to work again. I was grateful that the boat had no bottom. I could only imagine what she was thinking; what she might suggest if it was in one piece.
‘Let’s skip stones,’ she said, and trotted off towards the seafront.
As she had with the the boat, she surveyed the ground purposefully, seeking out the best stones, and gathered a small handful.
She stepped up close to me, grabbed my arm with one hand, cupping her stones with the other. Height-wise, she was about level with my chin.
Looking into her eyes, my dry mouth returned. I don’t think that I have ever felt such a conflict of feelings. For the first time I felt a connection with her, but it unsettled me. I was attracted to her – I’d decided that already, on the drive – but her eyes, like her mind, intimidated me. I wondered what spending any focused amount of time with her would be like. Maybe I needed someone like her in my life. I have no problem with superiority.
Clearly I was getting too far ahead of myself.
‘You can only throw the stones with your weak arm,’ she instructed, wiggling my wrist. ‘Because I’m a girl.’
‘I’m a feminist,’ I replied with a shrug. ‘So all things are equal.’
‘You’re strange.’ She patted my chest and then turned and threw one of her stones into the sea; all flinging hair and swirling skirts. We heard the plop when it hit the water, but the water was too dark to see the ripples. It hadn’t sounded very far away.
I picked up a stone and propelled it into the sky. It arced into the night, but I lost its path against the dark horizon. Moments later it splashed into the water.
‘Good throw,’ she said.
After we had thrown a few more stones, she came over to me and stood close again. This time she put her arms around me.
‘I’m cold,’ she said.
I retracted my waist a touch. The girl pressed in.
‘I have a hot water bottle,’ she said.
‘I haven’t got any hot water.’
I could feel her shiver. With my arms around her, she felt so small. This stranger. This tender contradiction.
‘I still don’t know your name.’
She didn’t reply.
‘I have a blanket in my car. We could get that.’
‘Would you bring it to me?’ she asked.
Her hair was against my chin. It moved when I spoke.
I ran over the stones. My keys were ready in my hand before I reached the car. The streetlights showed me that the blanket was none too clean. I couldn’t say how long it had been in there without being washed. I grabbed it and headed back to the girl. I don’t how long I had been away. Minutes. When I returned, she wasn’t there.
I was certain that I was in the right place, near enough. I looked out at the fishing boats. The lights from the few bars, buildings and homes lit partway onto the beach. It seemed that there was nowhere she could have disappeared to without me seeing, just like her sister and the barn. If she had walked a little way, surely I would have heard her untied boots scrunching the stones. I turned on the torch on my phone, shone it towards the water and along the front.
‘I’ve got the blanket,’ I called out, waving it around in the air. I couldn’t call out her name. A part of me was certain that she would jump out at me, this strange girl. ‘Hey. I’ve got the blanket,’ I called again.
I spun around. All the way round. Led by the torch, I wondered back to the boat and peered around the hull in the same way that she had but she was not there. I returned to the water’s edge and shone the light over the water. The cold air breezed from the night sea.
Standing there uselessly for a long while, I finally decided that she would be found only if she wanted to be found. With the blanket brushing against my leg, I walked back to the car, the pebbles crunching beneath my shoes.
She wasn’t there. I even checked beneath the car. I could see my breath clouding into the air. It was really cold now. Even though I was concerned, I also felt foolish. She had drawn me to her. Her magnetism. Mysticism. Whatever it was. Elasticity.
I thought about walking along the street, looking into any bars and cafés that were still open. But I didn’t. I drove home, alone, with my book on the passenger seat beside me. I thought of her all the way.
On the drive homeward, I wondered if she might have climbed into another stranger’s car. Let’s go. A tiny part of me even felt like going back, just to be certain that I hadn’t left her in the cold. And then I’d picture it again. Let’s go.
For a little while I did question quite a lot if that night had really happened. Whether that chance meeting, that surprise visit, was real. I had finally convinced myself, certain that it hadn’t. It simply couldn’t have. And then, a few weeks later when I was connecting my phone to the car stereo, the list of connected devices popped up on the screen.
Would you like to connect with … . . / — . / …. . .- .-. / -.– — ..-