Two minutes. Ramon Noodles. Crack. Sizzle. Simmer down.

They were out of Chicken so I settled for Prawn. It makes the apartment smell a little less of Windex and a lot more of 50p. The wick of my vanilla candle doesn’t light anymore, and Febreze makes my head spin. Open windows do little to temper the smell; one so acute there’s almost no need to taste food.

I go for a walk, to nowhere in particular, but away from places I know will remind me of you. Such restrictions guide me towards the back alley behind the gas station Tesco between Maida Vale and St. John’s Wood road; the crossroads where halfway homes meet penthouse caviar.

An old man walks his dog, teetering in his camel trench coat and gripping an oversized umbrella. A little further down, parallel to little Venice, there’s a woman dressed as though she’d escaped from a Georgia O’Keefe painting. Head to toe in floral prints. 

The homes that line the street on either side look identical. Black railings. Green foliage. White walls. But if you walk just close enough, you can catch a glimpse of the basements that hide the busy little lives of those who live like ants beneath a hill. Here’s a woman chopping carrots, there’s a nanny reasoning with an obstinate child. From where I stand, such banal comforts appear warm and romantic.

I feel cold. I feel sad. A light rain begins to fall.

Swoosh. Click. Close. Back in flat 21, the smell has subsided. Not entirely, but just enough.

I check the windows and crank up the heat. A call made to a friend is met with a dead dial tone. ‘Probably underground,’ I think. I turn on the television to see if Netflix might deliver something of substance. But then, there it is; your name next to mine.

‘Who’s Watching?  John    Anni’

Crack. A heart breaks a little more.

Streets are easy to escape. If only memories were too.

-Anam Sufi

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