With cautious glances at one another, we take up places around the edge. Balancing on knees, or curling around our legs.
A few people decide that sitting on the floor is more than they signed up for, and head for the benches by the wall instead.
Angelique keeps on talking. The party isn’t going so well. She’s spotted her boyfriend with another girl, and his dealer, the one she really doesn’t like, is there.
And… oh god. Her voice sinks as she tells us what happens next. I clutch tight at my knees, twisting around to follow her as she moves around us, wanting to look away but at the same time not being able to take my eyes off her.
There’s a crash.
As one, our heads snap towards the window behind Dennis-Edwards.
A young girl peeks through the blackout curtains. It’s the boys with their football.
The girl’s mother gives her a look and the curtain is dropped back into place.
But the lure of the teenage boys and their football is too much for her, and soon she is peeling open the edge of the curtain once more to look outside.
Angelique moves around the space. She wants to show us the vase of blue flowers she has put in her new home.
They're basic but bright, she says. But perhaps more than that, they embody new beginnings, and hope. Of sun-filled days. Of her own shop. Her own life. Away from those who see her as a resource and not a person.
Outside, it’s still swelteringly hot. The party next door is still going. The music still blasting.
But the streets are empty. Deserted. I walk towards the tube station, swinging my jacket from my arm.
Everything smells of heat and tarmac and fast food.
Despite the pain, I miss Angelique’s world. Her lack of nonsense. Her drive. And the lush freshness of her flowers.
I should really go buy some.
Maybe for my birthday. That’s coming up in three weeks. Three weeks and one day. Not that I’m dreading it or anything.
Still, flowers would help. Peonies, I think. They’re my favourite. I wonder what they mean. Angelique would know.Read More