3

Wake up angry. Body burning with rage. All illusions of a possible return shattered, blonde memories stained by grey hate.

*

Mock concern transports me back to my schooldays. “No! Why?!” “But you were so good together!”

I wearily remind myself that I took the same view not long ago, confidently putting respectability and nuclear stability before sad-clown, disgusting millenial notions of ‘self-fulfilment’ and ‘finding one’s self’.

I stay angry.

*

Uncomfortable in my skin. Relieved that she is so kind.

*

Why am I always teaching people how to act?

*

Apology. Sorry I misjudged you. Screw you.

*

This gazpacho is the stuff of wicked basil dreams. Even my rattled, throbbing tooth keeps shyly out of its way.

*

The door opens easily for me this time. I do not trust it.

*

warmthHOTsunOW. My cranky British skin reels from the hit. But the streets are so straight here!

*

Confidence, child, confidence. Lucia’s Kitchen. Spa. Beer garden. How incredible, to suddenly be a stranger to a place, a city with no advance warning of my coming. I am invisible and it surrounds me. It opens itself up to me like a velvet tulip bowl, beckoning me in. Everywhere else I have been a visitor, a strong-armed native grabbing and whisking me across the backdrop. Here I am amazed at my own capability to simply move. I had not been allowed to move this way.

*

Glistening noir slides. East Asian women with jet tails of hair, posture that cannot be taught. Caves of watches, a tropical rainforest of handbags. Yet the smell of money is far less insidious than in the commonest of conversations at Oxford. I walk. I walk. There seems no end. I am entranced.

*

Streets are bare, eerily alone. Yet the orange peach heat beats down. A ghost town, if ghosts are slumberers. Come on. Let’s go home.

*

“I’m sorry,” she says in accented Spanish, “our kitchen is closed until eight.” I’m hungry. I don’t understand this country.

*

The old man in the supermarket exclaims at the sight of me and motions to the others to look at me. I’m not sure why and nervously push past him. I pay for my crisps with a note and the cashier hates me.

*

Elena praises me for my shopping. Would I like a lamp? Would I like a television? Would I like her to cook for me?

I’m wondering how I have it this good. Praise Allah.

*

“I was a bit jealous at first,” he admits, his head on his pillow. I smile.

*

My Enter key is stuck.

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