I find myself in London on the mattress I’d thought would be on the floor. But the mattress—mine, now—is where I left it: in the smallest bedroom at the top of the rusty metal stairs in the house above the pizza shop. This house I once dreamt of so often that, upon finding it again, the waking hours between the waves of the Atlantic seem to dissipate until they have never been at all. Everything has changed for me, but nothing has here.
Do you remember the first time you were here? He asks me.
We had been watching the couple sitting just across from us at the pub. How well do they know each other? We wondered. How often do they think of one another, and how many times have they seen each other? You can tell he wants to kiss her, you said to me. Look. But I looked at you instead, and the next several hours did not exist beyond the alternation of my lips on yours and yours on mine and the glimpses of gut-wrenching blue that hit me in between. Waves rolled within me even after you left.
Yes. I turn away from him. I remember.
A magic hour later than those I’ve come to know washes over the two of us, erasing thirteen month’s delusions in the brightest shade of blue. My words are far more measured than I’ve intended. Train station terminals, botched goodbyes. Perennial flowers in the university’s gardens.
There is a ghost somewhere in this city that’s still with me. On this mattress I’m not sure I want to leave at the end of the week, I become sure that I have to.
I sit on the floor of the platform, awash in triangular shadow and a sea of glass slippers, waiting for the 8:03 to Oxford to board.
London, United Kingdom