The tiger’s gone. On tour. This morning. I wanted to take him to the airport but he said it was a stupid idea, which it was, sitting for forty minutes each way on the rattling blue of the Piccadilly line at six in the morning. So I woke up to the smell of him, the slam of a door, and the echo of a kiss on my temple.
London in the sun. Raucous and proud. I found breakfast at a deli: eggs, toast, and chilli jam, and licked crumbs from my lips as I looked for the printer’s. The streets are filled. Scaffolders, street sweepers and tall head-scarfed women. The copy shop smelt of ammonia, which reminded me of dad. The man at the counter was eating mackerel and beans. Brixton is full of endless food.
I took one hundred CVs back North of the river and filed them in my desk. I’d meant to pound the streets with them but my shoes were falling apart and I felt suddenly raw at the loss of him. Tiger. Funny how that needs to be clarified. I took my shirt and my shoes off and lay on the bed, listening to the radio tuning itself in and out, and trying not to think about any of it.
I dreamed I was at a station, in the dead of night, waiting for a train that never came. A mist of rain hanging over the platforms, bare and empty. I heard footsteps behind me. Avi walking from the ticket office towards me. She smiled that horrible, fluoride smile, held me, and whispered something in my ear.
I woke up to white noise and the smell of three in the morning. The daylight turned to vapour and left me stranded in the night, wide awake and lonesome. I made an omelette. Eggs twice in one day. I took my coat from the door and walked up and down the roads, looking for something to make the sleeplessness disappear, and found a fox under a railway bridge, nosing at a rubbish bin. He turned to me. We held each other’s gazes for what felt like forever, and for a moment I thought he was going to say something. The walls had graffiti on. I read them as a freight train lumbered slowly over the steel above. ‘Follow’, it said. Like an instruction. I turned back to the fox, but he was gone. An empty road: a line of streetlamps leading off to nothing. A clock chimed in the distance and I walked home as the sun came up, remembering what Avi had whispered to me in the dream.
‘I have important information,’ she’d said.
Bullshit. I’m going crazy.