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I’m back there in their small hallway where I used to live, with the heavy oak door, cherry stained in my mind, and you turned up early in that jumper, the one you liked but I questioned. And we chatted over salad, no doubt, and their cloth was honeyed rust in velvet, the knap short and firm but soft to the touch. And we left for the walk in the village with that joke about our pine trees, the one we never could agree on, even after all the years.

And old pubs from my youth, thick sticky carpets and everything swirling in the places I used to go, when college finished and we took over tables and laughed late, in the simple years before you came. And I took you back there and the chat rambled around and I strayed from the path of your thoughts, reeled slowly back in as we discussed the things that defined us and the park was wide and ambling.

The awkward newness of the bench and the bird enclosure where all but us had flown. And the evening’s rearrangements before a meal at the Fat Cat and the first of the chicken salads, oversized bowls and us, there, tiptoeing through the first course.
And we were so young somehow, frozen there on my doorstep, held in that moment of looking and I pulled the door closed behind me as we set off on our way.

I sit here still, in moments. I know where the jumper is and I unravel its colours as I see the glass corridor and their starchy blues and whites, the smell of sterility and the chrome wheels as I left, my coat and face older, my battered leather satchel, soft and creased with age. And they pulled the door closed behind me as I was carried off on my way.

And I’m here and there, lost and present with 19 years in between them, the girl at the door, and your eyes, your eyes that took me from there to here, to this women and her work and her love and this life.

This moment. Now.
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