The most significant long-term affairs in my life have been with cities. Growing up, we are taught, through fairytales and romantic narratives, that life’s for sharing with someone else, but in 2017, society is in flux.
It’s seven. Morning, definitely. Lots of brightness around. Nectarine, peach then white, as the eyelids fold back. Pills of light dosed through my window. Pellets of glare. Outside, invisible cats screech for territory.
London is a struggle if you’re broke. London if you’re a broke immigrant, however, is unfathomably cruel. The Grenfell Tower fire is the most painful manifestation of this the capital has ever seen.
Manpreet saw it first. She walked downstairs in her lavender-colored bathrobe, started the coffee brewing, drew open the kitchen curtains and there it was. A small, conical hill where the rusting swing set had stood for years, with what looked like an opening at its apex.
A few months ago, I awoke in the middle of the night to discover that my right arm was numb. This happened on four consecutive nights, by which point I was panicking, pleading with my body—not tonight. It didn’t cooperate. Why was this happening?
Alfred Twist won his wife in a game of cards. Huddled hump-backed around a crooked table in a corner of the Three Pigs, the players had wagered thick into the night, stakes rising with the measures of gin they slopped into their glasses.
‘Is she dead?’ mouths Alice, between reluctant bites of a cherry-flavoured Pop-Tart. I shrug—so many empty spaces in this room are already occupied by the dead. Why shouldn’t Kara fill another?
It was while on the toilet that it dawned on Dominic that what he wanted to be was an animal. A hot evacuation of shit and air came in triumphs; each more cartoonishly onomatopoeic than the last.
Their paths cross continuously on the trail. They meet in leisure-centre foyers that reek of disinfectant and on factory floors that smell of salty bodies. They collide and speak and pass in airless town hall ante-rooms among trays of untouched dips, in school classrooms where the furniture is miniature, by rostrums in medieval market places and at the side of community- centre stages usually reserved for dramas of a more amateur variety.