The fog brought on a different kind of cold, one that bathed the skin with a film of air that made the body feel hopelessly exposed against it. My body plummeted straight down to Earth. The world hit me in a series of flashing lights and whirring sirens. Blue, white, red. Noise. They held me in place – steadied me. There was a tapping. Tap, tap, tapping at my side, like a leaky faucet over a sink. The fog was turning me to ice – all except for my side, which was alive. It was on fire.
….The sirens began to slip away from me. And the lights were losing their steady grip, melting into one indistinct hue. They looked like fireworks… the fireworks I saw with Tom one night.
….I met him under the bridge, at the canal. We walked, shivering in the gloom, passing the white-columned buildings that overlooked the water, high up on the opposite side. Tom made up elaborate stories about the people who lived in them. We laughed at the way he became a character, creeping into his own tales.
….We passed under the second bridge, and then took the narrow path up to the road. In all our excitement, we ran to Primrose Hill. Tom was lightening on his feet. He rocketed up the steep slope of the hill.
….‘Hurry up!’ he called. My body was heavy and cramping. I pulled at clumps of grass, crawling up, dizzy from breathing too hard. I collapsed. Why didn’t I take the path up? ‘Over here.’ Tom’s voice came from over a buzzing.
….I got up. A shoe sat a metre away, in the darkness.
….Many shoes and trainers were up on the hill. People buzzed and chattered. I found Tom standing on a bench.
….A countdown began. The London sky exploded into colour. The crowd cheered, bursting into a chorus of ‘Happy new year!’ Tom’s face lit up.
….The voices and cheers began to fade away. They slipped away, like the sirens and the lights. They faded, Tom faded, the night faded.
….Strobe lights danced on his skin. Dancing: he was effortless and drunk. Beautiful under the lights.
….The counter I stood at slide under my elbow, and I nearly knocked a drink over. His drink. Our drinks. Yes. I picked them up, and turned to rejoin him on the dance floor.
….The lights zigzagged across everyone and everything. They cut through my torso and paralyzed me. But, Tom continued to dance, bumping into other bodies to the music. They moved like a stormy ocean of tangled clothes and limbs. I was swept up into the movements of this ocean, and it brought me closer to him. Still, my body would not move.
….One of the bodies circled closer to Tom. It hovered beside him for a moment, before initiating contact. They touched. Their lips met. He was swept up into the ocean of dancing, faceless bodies, and the distance between us was filled up by the turbulent storm.
….Then, the sirens came back. They crashed and wailed against me. A fresh shiver rippled through my body, reawakening the tapping and throbbing at my side. I could feel myself being dragged under, and sucked into the darkness, to the place where the indistinct mess of colours existed.
….But, he called out for me. Tom had come for me. I tried to call for him, find his name on my tongue. But all I could hear was his broken voice over the sirens.