Her echo was still on the sheet as I roll over into the space so recently vacated and stretch my legs and fall asleep again. When I awake again, it’s light or what passes for it in London. Looking at the ceiling I drag my brain to the surface and then sit up and reach for my lighter. Breakfast passes slowly while I sift through the night before but all there is are bruises and grazes from chemical abuse. Giving up I leave the house and go to work with all the other sad faced people on the train.

A flash of green dress and brown hair leads me into another land and I scarcely notice the train pull into Waterloo. The crowds don’t even notice me as usual which is one of the things I love about London. You could have tentacles and two heads and no would notice, they are too polite, too far up their own arses to see. I wander out onto the South Bank and into the office Dropping into my desk for the day I log onto the phone and become component for the day at the support desk.

I’d met Sam at the climbing wall one Friday, we immediately hit it off when he dropped into my life with a huge howl and crash of the mats. He has a huge Sun tattooed on his back and I have four Lizards. “You’re from New Zealand”. It was a statement and not a question due to the greenstone that lives around my neck. When we finished climbing we had showered together, he has a slim body with a nicely shaped cock and I wondered what it would be like when it was erect. We stopped at the Victoria and drank beer and talked about places we had been and wanted to go. We waved our arms around, generally talked shit. I’d enjoyed it as it reminded me of times at home. He’d invited me to a party on Saturday and I agreed to come as it was relatively near to home.

There is a heartbeat coming from the house. I walk up to it and a large guy steps out of the bushes and asks my name. He has a clipboard so I give it to him, he checks and nods, “ You have a good evening mate” then fades back. I wander up the stairs and into a fog of cigarette and hash smoke. I feel uncomfortable, a party is an intimidating place to be when I don’t know anyone and I hunt around for Sam’s face, but it’s busy and the party is a freak show of feathers and paint. I see him across the room, he’s wearing nothing but some tight swimming trunks and silver body paint but I’m surprised to see who he’s talking to. A slim brunette woman in a simple green silk dress, who I’d last seen back in Auckland 5 years ago. He turns and grins, “Glad to see you made it”. The woman Emma turns and smiles, “Long time, no see stranger” and kisses me on the cheek. We had met had been when I had come off my bike while riding in the forests back home and she had helped me limp to the road end dripping blood and later cursing as the nurses washed the gravel from my skin.

Sam thrusts a joint into one hand and a mug of wine into the other, “You look far too tense, Kiwi”, I draw and pass it to Emma, who gives me a curious look before smoking and passing it back to Sam. She kisses him on the mouth and the circle completes. “Are you going to tell me what you’ve been up to?” she asks and takes me by the hand and reclaims the joint off Sam. We wander outside and sit on the balcony, for a while just passing the smoke back and forth without speaking. “I meant to get in touch but…” I start. She laughs and says “Don’t worry about it, some things have their own time. What have you been up to?”.

I give her my own strange story and as always she listens well. It turns out that her own path hasn’t been all that different. Five years don’t seem to have made any difference and we slip easily back into that easy intimacy that friendship provides. Behind us the heartbeat gets faster as more people join the crowd. Emma stands up and asks “ Do you want to dance?”. Without waiting for an answer she pulls me up and we walk inside. The smoke, lights and music calls my body and we move together into the knot of dancers. A wave of sweat and sex hits my nose and I feel instantly turned on which is a good way for me to be while dancing. Sweaty and hot I leave the dancers to find a drink. I find my way to the kitchen. When I get back Emma and Sam are dancing, touching and kissing and I sink into the crowd and leave them alone, feeling a little let down.

The rest of the night passes in a fever of sweat and chemicals, I leave the party alone dressed in a teeshirt that I found on the floor when mine became lost. I walk along in the early morning, watching the sky light up. Just as I turn into my road a fox wanders past oblivious to my presence until it lifts its head and a takes a long look at me before continuing on its way. The encounter feels significant for no good reason. By the time I have made it home it’s almost light and I collapse into bed.

The rest of the weekend is a write-off and I only manage to make it outside to ride round Richmond park a couple of times dodging the rest of London who have come to get some fresh air. The week passes too slowly and once more I get the feeling that time is dripping through my hands and out of my control. It s been six months since the last adventure and London’s grey skies are sapping my will to live. I can feel myself becoming one of them.

Running through my well thumbed pile of climbing magazines I make a decision, jump on the Mac and buy some tickets to Thailand. Just as I disconnect, the phone rings. ”Kiwi, what have you been doing”. It’s Sam and I reveal my plans. “Sounds great, got room for a couple more?” he asks. Without thinking I say “Sure thing, I’m leaving in three weeks if you want to come” Like me his IT work pays well but is not even slightly stimulating and he was able to drop everything to seek the sun, he is also able to buy a ticket for Emma who is between jobs.

The next weeks pass in a blur of organization and consumer frenzy and by the leaving date I am wound up and ready to ring.

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