Sometimes you see a face in the crowd, and it brings it all back. Eyes glance near you and there’s recognition, from at least one side, of the friend you once knew, in a different time and place. Or of the times spent there with them and others.

Walking back on the brick concourse, and nearly under the concrete bridge that once won a civic prize (how so remains a mystery), a carbon print of S walks towards me. She would, I think, be consistent to the point of ignoring my hello and striding past, eyeing up the more attractive pedestrians.

But I don’t say hello. Even as she is approaching and I see and recognise her face (perhaps there are only a finite number of faces; we are not, then, unique, but merely unusual in our own sphere of the world), I’ve been transported back. Back by 15 years, or more, I guess, to the first realisation that she knew that she could do better. How fortunate, that the past is dead, with no current influence save the needless length of a pocket address book.

Back at the office, and there is a coffee on the desk, cold, from before the mid day escape. Picking up a spoon from the desktop, I scrape the congealed dark brown powder from the edge of the mug, stir it, and lay the spoon back down again in the bacterial sea. If I get sick, I get time out of here so the chance of infection isn’t a bad thing, but an opportunity for rest. Just like the times at school, staying up most of the night without heat in the room, praying to get a cold, get flu, or to be abducted by the reflection in the mirror when going to the loo after 3am, just to avoid the necessity of school for the day.

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