Autumn had arrived unbidden, and Sophie was not impressed.

Her hand lingered over the switch on the boiler which would reignite the central heating. But with the radio buzzing with warnings of dramatic increases in gas prices, she took her hand regretfully away, and instead put on a second jumper.

She defiantly stole one of Kit’s, draped uncaringly on the back of a chair, a shed skin, abandoned.

It smelt faintly of him over the synthetic scent of fabric softener. She breathed it in deeply for a few indulgent moments.

“It’s fucking August!” Sophie protested to the grey sky beyond the window.

She checked the Impressionists calendar Kit’s mum had given him at Christmas; yes, it was still August; the picture showed people relaxing by a river bank. Seurat, that was it – hadn’t she seen it at the National Gallery on a school trip? She and Jane had run away from the bored group trudging in the wake of Mr Southerly, managing to make the great art works of the world deathly dull with his hectoring, lecturing monotone… they’d got in real trouble, but it had been worth it to see the pictures they wanted and go round at their own pace…

That seemed so long ago suddenly, and a melancholy gust of nostalgia washed over her, tightening her chest in bereavement at the loss of youth and summer, and Kit.

Where the fuck was he?

As though on cue, the phone began to ring – Sophie jumped, alarmed. But it would not be Kit – he never rang – no, it would be his mother, increasingly unconvinced since the riots by Sophie’s explanations and excuses.

“I saw it on the news!” she had panicked at Sophie down the phone. “It’s on fire! London’s burning! Are you sure he’s ok?”

“Yes,” Sophie had assured her firmly; though in fact she’d had no way of knowing whether this was true.

She’s hoped, when everything had kicked off – youths running wild throughout London, smashing windows, looting shops, setting things on fire – that he might come home. He might worry about her. He might want to protect her.

But no, nothing…

Sophie grabbed a coat and her keys and left the flat, the phone still ringing shrilly and insistently.

“Why should I keep lying for him?”

She walked angrily but aimlessly for a while, before realising that there was somewhere she wanted to go, and altering her course accordingly. She wasn’t entirely sure of the route, and got slightly lost for some while in long, confusing residential streets – but it didn’t bother her overly. It was the right kind of day for being slightly lost; it went with the cold, earthiness in the wind, the occasional burnt leaves already falling from the mostly-green trees.

But she found it eventually, rather impressed with herself.

She looked up at the big impressive gates and sighed with satisfaction.

Sophie had wanted to come here with Kit; but if she had waited for him, she might never have seen it. So now here she was by herself, ready to explore Nunhead Cemetry…



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