you didn’t know it but it was the last time the two of you would meet. autumn curling at the edges, its entrails lining streets and clogging drains as the first flecks of the winter cold came slow, seeping silently through the crack beneath the door of your tiny room, like a poisonous gas. brass number 4. it was only an hour that time. before you turned to sit up on the mattress, its aged springs shuddering. you clicked your bones and stood, leaving a neat dark line on the starchy hotel sheets. all that you left behind, really.

seven months straight. that stint. you learnt about responsibility.which you deemed to be; a zipped lip when he left you in stores to pick up faceless children. the fiddling with a hang nail when he took that call, turning his back to you, whispering fiercely down the line. the never asking names. it was the swallowing of a tiny pill. every morning with coffee. because the other option left him agitated. the tissues by the bed, in your handbag, up the jumper sleeve, tucked into the bra. the bearing of that eternal Sunday stretch. re-reading limp magazines, running loads of washing through and through, pausing in the yard to feel the unfamiliar sunlight on your shoulders, leaning to inspect new growth. a spinning head as the wine bottle diminished.

you didn’t know it but it was the last time the two of you would meet.
stepping out into the evening air, your lungs tighten. and you walk.