I awoke abruptly in the night, at about three am. Although back in the unremarkable reality of my bedroom, I still felt busy and preoccupied. I had been searching the island for Marcin and had come across a trail of footprints, which I had followed down the beach, to where the tide had come in, and then out again, deleting them. I heard the little crash of the front door and realised that Tori was in the flat. I had not spoken to her for over two months and I was uncertain of whether she still lived here. Occasionally items from around the flat – books, pens, money from the tray at the side of my bed – would go missing, dropping quietly out of my life like unmemorable hours. I had not yet ventured into her bedroom to see if it was empty or still full of her belongings. Leaving my room, I heard sounds coming from the kitchen. Conscious how bleary-eyed and dishevelled I must have looked, I peered around the kitchen door. Tori was poking about in the fridge, munching on some chicken left over from Sunday. She paused to snort in derision at my soggy, striped pyjamas, before continuing. Tori is of a certain type of aristocratic English lady who at a very young age must have been told, as a cat instructs her kittens, that if you want something in life you should just help yourself to it. She bared her greed openly, like men who fart loudly and without embarrassment at urinals. She piled food on to a plate and sat down at the kitchen table.
“I haven’t seen very much of you lately… I don’t suppose that you still live here?”
“Maybe. I haven’t decided.”
“Did you ever love me?”
She stopped shovelling food in her mouth, but continued to munch. “When you were drunk,” she spluttered finally, her mouth full of chicken.
I left the kitchen, but then immediately turned back.
“Have you heard anything from Marcin? Somebody mentioned that he was back in the city?”
“Doesn’t he keep in touch with you?” Tori sounded surprised. She then shook her head, as if attempting to concentrate. “That was a great summer. A really special time.” But she looked up at me, her eyes suddenly melancholy. “You have to keep up with the world. You can’t be left behind. You have to keep up.”