MAY 2009 – NO. 33
It's early morning. The glow of artificial light on the wet pavement blurs against the darkness. The city is still but for deliveries being made to small shops and pubs. Men stack fruit and vegetables in piles outside of market windows. Kegs are unloaded from trucks and wheeled into pubs, the smell of last night's stale beer still hanging in the air. Stacks of newspapers pile up on the street, the broadsheets proclaiming economic collapse.
The bus is empty, mostly. I get on and walk up the stairs to the top deck, letting my bag down in a seat and then sitting one row up, near the front window. A few blocks later, the bus accelerates through a right turn and I'm thrown off balance. I bring my right hand down on your knee. You don't seem to notice and I pull my hand back.
A few passengers get on at Mornington Crescent. A dark-skinned African woman in a blue hotel cleaning-crew uniform. A thin white woman with ruffled brown hair still wearing last night's short skirt and high heels. They say nothing; they just look straight ahead, alone in their own worlds.
You sit beside me, silent, the morning hanging heavy. You offered to come with me, to see me off, and are now solemnly fulfilling your duty. You wear dark jeans, a simple white shirt, a dark jacket, and polished black boots. A wool hat frames your cream-colored face, which betrays little of the thoughts hidden within.
London had been your idea, of course. After we arrived, we moved from hotel to hotel each night for a week and a half while we looked for a flat to rent. We found one in Camden, and made arrangements to move in immediately. Then we walked the autumn streets at dusk searching for nothing in particular. There was a small Indian restaurant near Bloomsbury that served talis just like the ones we had eaten in Bangalore. I found a used copy of Anna Karenina in a little bookshop hidden off Camden High Street and bought it. We made love in the flat as soft rain rapped against the windowpane.
On the bus, Paddington Station is announced. I pick up my bag and we walk down the stairs, exit, and walk through the empty street in silence. The rain has stopped. I'm hoping for an intervention, deus ex machina. It never comes. We keep walking as light begins to overtake the city.
In the station, I buy a ticket to Heathrow from a man in a glass ticket booth, using all but my last pound. Then you walk me to the train, which is about to depart. We stand there, in front of the open train door, our many years of life together now behind us. I say something. I look into your eyes. Then I turn and get on the train. And you are gone.
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