I turned towards the Thames and just started in that direction. I didn't feel like going back to the hotel room and it was probably best that my mum thought I was getting some action anyway. I was due to meet Penny for brunch in a couple of hours and I thought I'd might as well stay up til then.
I smoked a couple more cigarettes until I got paranoid about cancer. I started feeling the bumps in my mouth with my tongue and hurridly put out the remaining half of the cigarette. The sun was rising now, hitting The Shard at a fierce angle. The Shard is an absurd thing, all pointed steel and glass poking towards the sky - capitalism's middle finger to beauty.
People often tell me that I am a romantic, to which I would plead guilty without innocence. I find that to be true one has to attach a bit of one's soul to what they do. The degree of this attachment, I think, helps us transcend this thin, liminal present. The lack of attachment, to me, is barbarity. Who built the shard? What human spirit was lost? What countless hours of precious life was wasted on a tower that will stand silent and admonished for the rest of London's history? I could never do it.
I sat down on a curb in the middle of nowhere and smoked the last two and a half cigarettes and waited for Penny. People were beginning to stroll in for bottomless brunch. My jeans were stained from my brooding around London and I felt a certain heaviness creeping back. In the brightness of the morning, the whole Cassie thing really felt like a dream. My body felt it was still back there in Bar Prague but like an actor on set, all the furniture and props around me had been moved by unseen hands and now I was somewhere completely different.
A double-decker bus stops in the distance and a solitary figure disembarks. Wait, no so much disembarks but jumps out, looks in my direction and starts marching over to me. She's wearing a shiny tinfoil like wind breaker and the speed of her gait causes her backpack to bob happily behind her. Now she speeds up to me like an alien schoolchild and is almost running by the time she collides with me. I stand up just in time and give Penny a big hug. It had been seven years since I saw her last.