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Queues in the Post Office and the smell of orange in the fruit shop; clementines fall soft in their skin, drop them thudding into my rucksack. Letters in the post and the smell of pine as I run past the garage.

Phil’s mum, Liz, is in the city – the colours of her earrings match her those woven through her scarf, and she’s had a new haircut. We spend the afternoon together over tables and in a gallery, and later I see her onto the bus back to Muswell Hill.

The theatre with Lauren, the closeness of the stage so that you can see flecks of spit, mascara creasing and running. There are baubles of yellow liquid between us and we hug each other goodbye until the new year

You come with me to Kings Cross and I think how nice it is to be seen off, to not be my usual self, scanning the electronic board for numbers, rushing to the right platform. We have coffee, talk about our Christmases and you kiss me goodbye. At the other end, my best friend will be waiting.   

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