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It isn't quite cold when he arrives in London. Not quite. But compared to the balmy, sticky sort of Mediterranean weather he'd been enduring over the past few months, it seems uncomfortable, despite the wooly sweater he'd given himself once he reached the Alps. By Paris, his wool coat grew a thick, furry lining, and he was quite all right for the rest of the journey home.

But it's chilly, in London. It isn't even raining. He often thinks of London in its iconic form, when he is gone during the week, a sort of miserable, grey mish-mash of people set against a miserable, grey landscape. Indoors, there is lots of tea.

Of course, London on this chilly February evening is nothing like that. He isn't sure why he expected it to be, except that if the city never changes, then he's never really gone, is he?

The key sticks in the lock, and he's got to fiddle with it before the door opens. The shop is... well, to be honest, it's not quite as he left it, but that's to be expected. He's come to expect other things, too, like the clean mug and spoon in the kitchen drainer, the shifting pile of books to be repaired, the waiting stack in the press. All things to do which he does take care of nearly every Friday evening.

But not this evening.

This evening, he shuffles in and takes his suitcase upstairs first thing. It's a large suitcase, and it takes some time to unpack.

To settle in.

Wrapped in a tartan robe and mismatching house slippers, he putters downstairs and brews some very fine gunpowder tea which he purchased from a short, oddly-dressed chap in a scruffy sort of tea shop near the coliseum. The leather couch is as comfortable as it always was, and he's pleased to see that Adam hasn't moved the book of poetry he left open on the side table last weekend.

If you think it long and mad,
the wind of banners
that passes through my life,
and you decide
to leave me at the shore
of the heart where I have roots,
that on that day,
at that hour,
I shall lift my arms
and my roots will set off
to seek another land.

He smiles, and turns the page.

It's good to be home.



April 2010

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