The night air stings as the lights of London blaze down upon us, two figures in black coats huddled in a doorway.
I hold out my hand -
There's a smile. "I don't want to bruise you".
I smile back. "I bruise when someone looks at me".
He takes my hand, covering my skin in unfamiliar inky writing.
And for a moment, just for a moment, the traffic noise melts into the night and I am gloriously, dizzyingly, happy.
Weeks later, I click on the now familiar name in my inbox. The words make me smile and I realise, just as I am about to click away, that there is another message waiting to be read, the name illuminated in gmail's green ink. I scroll down, quickly scanning the message in my haste to be done before my shift starts.
I reach the third paragraph before I realise there is something wrong.
The words become alien, a gap opening between them and their meaning which I am, temporarily, unable to breach.
And then, with the force of a small collision, their meanings connect.
I sit in the airless staff coffee shop, surrounded by people and voices that I don't know, as my stomach turns.
It is horridly, hopelessly, familiar. History repeating itself at the moment I least expected it to.
Only - there is one crucial difference.
This time I did not know.
And I feel the bruising, not as colourful or spectacular as that which is now just a memory from a University misadventure, but deeper, harder, somewhere I cannot quite place.
I go to the toilets at the top of the auditorium and, my legs on the cold floor, my body reacts in curiously physical terms as, protected by the silence of an empty theatre, I vomit.