My lifeline

Truth or Dare.

I have been writing less of late. Physically restraining myself from opening up my blog and adding a new piece of myself to it. If there is no post then there is no dated, time stamped evidence of it. Nothing to be thrown back into my face as proof that I am shirking my duties elsewhere.

It is an obsession, I am told. An addiction.

obsession (noun) 1. Compulsive preoccupation with a fixed idea or an unwanted feeling or emotion, often accompanied by symptoms of anxiety. 2. A compulsive, often unreasonable idea or emotion.
The need to write is a visceral one. I am a writer only if I keep writing. If it is an obsession, I can think of none better or more reasonable for a writer to embrace.
addiction (noun): the fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance or activity. a. The condition of being habitually or compulsively occupied with or or involved in something. b. An instance of this: had an addiction to blogging.
Weaving Grace_DiasporaMy life is a succession of vicious circles. There are good days and bad. Those are easy enough to bare. What I struggle with is that empty space where apathy creeps in. It has ceased being a question long ago. Now it visits me only as a statement: “There is no point.”
Late at night. In the light of day. Its grip is relentless. This is why I started writing. A writer adrift. In search of fulfilment. No. It is so much more than that. It is a lifeline. The one thing that keeps me breathing. Gives me something to wake up for every morning.

It is beyond comprehension to me why anyone would want to make me feel guilty for it.

Is there a distinction between writing and blogging? Perhaps… I see blogging as an extension of my development as a writer. It keeps my writing muscles flexed. It keeps me working, creating, even when I am not inspired, so that when the muse does visit she can find me ready, pen in hand.

I am back. Guilt-ridden. Fractured. Emptied out. Yet here. For another day at least.

Truth stranger than fiction… #BenedictCumberbatch

8th of December 2011

On that fateful Wednesday morning I was a few days into the renewal of an old pet project: considering the pointlessness of life. Little did I know that an answer to my question would materialise by the end of the day. And what I suspected even less was how little I would like that answer.

Embracing the inevitable tide of cultural pessimism, I made my way through the busy Bloomsbury streets towards the library. It was a drizzly December morning and I had a deadline to meet, which might have been in part to blame for that rather dark train of thought.

People may assume that such thoughts can only be brought about by unhappy circumstances. This was not the case with me. I was generally thought to be a happy person, and would have easily agreed with that assessment. And why wouldn’t I? I had a beautiful home, where I often entertained my fabulous friends together with my beloved and loving husband. Too many adjectives perhaps, but that was my life: great at every turn. And I loved my job – most days – which was no little feat in itself. Altogether it was a cosy existence and I saw no reason to complain, nor was I particularly inclined to do so. What else can a human being possibly wish for?

Now I come to think of it… Perhaps middle-class ennui was to blame for what happened.

As a child I dreamt of a contented life, but once I had it, doubts loomed in from all sides. I began to question whether contentment could ever be sufficient in itself. I knew the answer once, but could not find my way back to it through this stringy extension of time. What gives life true purpose? Memory failed me.

The wind sharpened, so I wrestled with my umbrella and stepped into my favourite café for a little warmth and the first coffee of the day, all philosophical questions forgotten.

Work went well that day so naturally the evening approached at a galloping pace. Time was no longer my friend. We fell out a few years back, when I would have liked to stop it in its tracks and failed.

I checked my wristwatch. It was getting late. After the IHR seminar was over I joined my co-convenors, colleagues and friends for a couple of drinks at the university bar. But something made me restless. After speeding ahead at a lightning pace for the length of the day, time suddenly stumbled, retracted and slowed down to a crawl. “If I hurry,” I thought, “I might still make the next train home.” I said my goodbyes and exited the bar, quickening my step.

On the underground however, the first unexpected turn of events took place. Suddenly, instead of taking the tube to King’s Cross, I found myself traipsing in the opposite direction.  My legs seemed to have a mind of their own that evening. Dissatisfied with reaching Covent Garden, they shuffled down the cobbled streets and wound their way towards the river. Retracing my steps I suppose.

The air had mellowed. It was not exactly cold, but it was warmer than it had been all day and I craved a cigarette. I conjured up circles of smoke and enjoyed what moments of solitude one can steal in a crowd.

“Life may have no purpose, but sitting on the banks of the Thames, under the evening stars – however little visible – does have its charm.”

Afterwards, once I could trust my feet to do my bidding, and thought it safe to get up from my table, I walked through the BFI building to the info desk to get a programme for future screenings. Around the corner from the information desk, I was met by a crowd. Curiosity peaked; I asked what it was for…


The English are misunderstood as a people. The stiff upper lip is little more than the social circumspection of the overly sober. A pint or two is all that stands between an Englishman and recklessness. And there are the queues of course. It is a truth universally acknowledged that English people love a good queue. So there is no shortage of these on the island, and London has more than its fair share of them. Any queue, for whatever reason formed, is filled with like-minded people. So, if you have an interest of any kind and want to expand your social circle, you can’t fail if you join one.

This particular queue was filled with Sherlock aficionados. The cast was there, I was informed, and everyone waited for autographs and a glimpse of their favourite star. Yes. In true surreal fashion, I had stumbled upon a Benedict Cumberbatch adoration gathering.

Suffice to say that the temptation to stay was too great to resist. I thought that at most I would get a closer glimpse of my favourite, but since I had the programme with me, I ended up with Steven Moffat, Mark Gattis, Andrew Scott and Lara Pulver signing it.

Then… the waiting game was afoot.

We waited around for quite a while. I was near the end of the queue, and across from a glass door through which the actors went one after another after the signings.

Next, disaster struck. I saw Benedict on the other side of the door, readying himself to go through to the private bar area, whereto all his co-stars had retreated before him. Discontentment brewed amongst those at my end of the queue; all feared he would not be signing anything that evening. After waiting for so long, one was not amused!

I was exactly opposite the door, about two meters from where he was standing, ready to go through. I watched his hand clasp the handle, looked up and…. He was watching me. I held his gaze.

Time elongated, stretched itself through the glass, obliterating all around me. Everything blurred. His eyes were the only point of clarity in the room. My brain counted the fractions of time. One – I am here for you Ben – Two – This is why I stare – Three – What is your excuse? He blinked. Looked away. Pulled at the door. Disappeared through it.

My flowing silk skirt was doing its best to earn the ten quid I spent at the vintage market in Spitalfields, it appeared.

I felt slightly faint. Never having mastered the art of whiskey drinking, nonetheless I would have killed for a measure of single malt to settle my nerves. He was gone. I went outside to have a cigarette. A second glass door was added to the first, expanding the space between me and the Batch. By the end of the second cigarette – excessive I know, but it seemed to be an evening of excesses for me – I saw him return.

He started the signings at the other end of the queue. I observed his approach through the crowd. Twice our eyes met again. I began to doubt my vision at that point. Surely I was imagining it. Even as I am writing this, it seems somehow unreal… And then, when he was within a meter or so of me, he looked up again. Perhaps I was not imagining it after all.

Ego boost or what?

But reason stalled the luxury of basking in the glory of an almost-conquest, and decided wisely that I must remind him of someone he knew. That was the only reasonable explanation for a second extended eye-lockup in a hallway crowded by his admirers.

I am his madeleine. He tastes the flow of memories long past in my gaze.

Moments later he was in front of me, taking my pen and preparing to sign.

“Thank you so much. We hope to see you on stage again soon.”

Benedict’s hand froze on the page. He looked up, a naughty twinkle in his eye as his gaze affixed itself onto mine. The corner of his mouth curled up into a mischievous smile. His head tilted slightly to one side, knowing and not knowing what I mean. Was he meant to read between the lines?

Damn you Freud, and your slips! In that moment I realised the subtext translation: I have seen you naked. And yes, asking for more. I added a little flustered:

“When you have the time…”

He smiled again. Nodded. Moved on. I remained glued to the spot. The crowd swarmed past me, moving in around him. Everyone wanting a little more of him. He looked tired, a little haggard even. Suddenly I felt discomfited by it all; all these strangers advancing on one man.

Time expanded. Space contracted. I was one of them. I was one of the beleaguers. I noticed his minder getting more uneasy as the circle tightened around Ben. He spied me watching and called me forward, indicating that if I wanted a photo I should go around to the other side.

As if in a trance I moved to the place he pointed out. Someone offered to take a pic with my mobile. I handed it over. Benedict stepped forward, asked where to look.

He was at my side, the star, the man, and yet in that moment… I felt sorry for him. I wished I were anywhere but there.  I was about to step away, but there were so many people around us, there was no visible escape. I felt his hand trace the small of my back.
“I’m so sorry,” I said, elongating the ‘o’ in ‘so’ so that he would know that I mean it.
He looked at me. Smiled: “That’s quite alright.”

A flash and it was over. I got the last picture of the lot.


On my way home, I felt the need to expunge the guilt and put my case to the public. After all, what do we live for, but to make sport for our neighbours, and make fun of them in return? So I put the picture up on my Facebook wall with the following caption:

“There is a first for everything… Very embarrassed about it, but couldn’t resist. Black on black with matching hair: “We hope to see you on stage again soon.” Got a mischievous smile in reply. The penny drops. Gosh! I’ve just told Benedict Cumberbatch that I have seen him naked!”

“There is a first for everything… Very embarrassed about it, but couldn’t resist. Black on black with matching hair: “We hope to see you on stage again soon.” Got a mischievous smile in reply. The penny drops. Gosh! I’ve just told Benedict Cumberbatch that I have seen him naked!”

Him (smiling): Stalker.

Me (guilty blush):  I am merely an admirer of his craft. I appreciate beauty and art – that is all.

Him: Groupie.

Me: That is slander, dearest.

Him (raised eyebrow): You finally did it! You have taken your obsession to a new level. You do realise your boyfriend has the name of an evil rabbit, right?

Me (incensed): Not so!

Him: He clearly does. Benedict Cumberbatch sounds like the name of Peter Rabbit’s nemesis. In which case he would always be trouserless… to your eternal delight.

Me (laughing): Heaven!

He shakes his head, half-bemused, half-disgruntled.

Me (struggling to keep a straight face): Seriously though: No to rabbits, particularly trouserless ones!

Him (leaning in for a kiss): There’s an axiom to live by if there ever was one…


The red velvet lowers. Before you leave: What is the meaning of life?

Well… what followed was a rather un-philosophical resolution to that problem.

We make our own meaning. The body and its senses, as well as the creative thrust of our imagination: both have their place in our making sense of life, the universe, and everything.

And as for Cumberbatch… I will continue to maintain that it is a magic word. Works. Every. Time.


Time chimes from me to you and back again. Submitting to your will, subtract from mine. And your return awaiting; I bow out.

PS: New to vicbriggs’s blog and want some more Benedict Cumberbatch fixes? Take a look at the links below.

In the order of appearance:

1.  I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire or the confession that started it all.

2. Sex with you-know-who will steam up your windows. Beware!

3. COMING SOON… a snippet of Cumberthings yet to come.

4. The Batch on Sunday Interviews vicbriggs on working with #BenedictCumberbatch and life after Sex with you-know-who.

5. Midnight Snog – the sequel to Sex with you-know-who is finally out.

Enjoy! and thank you for stopping by 🙂

And a big thank you to for inspiring Daily Prompts:

Midnight Snog

Vic Briggs’s Dreamscapes Epic presents:



"You'll find it's his bottom that gets most coverage."

“You’ll find it’s his bottom that gets most coverage.”

“Just kiss me already.”

His hand reaches out. Fingers cradle the nape of my neck. Thumb traces the line of the   cheekbone until it reaches the dimple in the corner of my mouth. It waivers for a moment only, then his lips are on mine. Punishing. Relentless. Heaven.


     It is late. Streets empty. He is on my trail.

I am afraid.

I don’t know when that taxicab first appeared in my rear-view mirror, but there’s no doubt about it: he is following me. I swerve off course, nip down a side alley, backtracking. I get a minute of respite; pray that I’ve lost him. No. He’s on the hunt. Breathing down my neck.

There’s a red light ahead. I slow down. He follows suit. Will have to stop. My eyes dart from left to right and back again. Heart pounding. Just as the car is about to come to a standstill, my foot highjacks the accelerator and I’m propelled screeching across the intersection.

The smell of burnt rubber scrapes the back of my throat. I check the rear-view mirror; could almost yelp for joy. Alright. I’ve got a head start. Must capitalise. There is a bar: The Bar, only a five minute drive away. It is bound to be busy on a Thursday night. Numbers = safety. I veer off to the right, new target set firmly in mind. Not far now.

Moments later, he reappears. Headlights dipped.  Just behind me. In for the kill.

A knot tightens in my stomach. My pulse heightens. There’s a buzzing in my ears. I breathe in and out, trying to regain composure.

“Don’t  panic. Whatever you do. Don’t panic.”

The moment I say it out loud I realise I’m in the middle of a fully-fledged panic attack.

Air. Air. My car for a lungful of air!

I pull over. Stop. Lean over the wheel, forcing myself to breathe. I look up. He swerves around my car and pulls up in front, blocking my escape. The headlights flash, then go out. Blinded, I hear the creek of a door pushed open.

Can’t see. Can’t breathe. Can’t move, and he’s coming for me. I’m mincemeat. I close my eyes. It’s child’s play: “If I can’t see you, you can’t see me. If I can’t see you, you can’t see me.”

It doesn’t work. A knock on my window. Do I dare open my eyes? …I do. Too curious not to, even though I’m frightened half to death.

It is Jonny. Jonny Lee Miller.

“Are you alright?” he asks, when I lower the window.

Am I alright? I nod. In some cultures this means “no”, but I’ll go out on a limb here and say that I couldn’t be mistaken for someone from the nod=no crowd.

Jonny is dashing: a habitual occurrence in the casa de Miller. There’s also that slight awkwardness in his demeanour, a vulnerability that wins over the reluctant interlocutor.  The man men like: he’s not conceited. The man women like: why wouldn’t you?

Jonny – yes “Jonny”. We’re old friends Mr Knightly and I – is not alone. A large-brimmed hat and dragonfly shades conceal the identity of his companion. I’m caught staring. Jonny shrugs and sweeps the hat off the bespectacled stranger:

“You’ve met my mate Ben I think?”

Jonny is doing his best to keep a straight face, eyes gleaming. Cumberbatch takes off the remainder of his disguise. I catch Jonny’s eye then turn to his companion.

I burst out laughing.

The shades – part and parcel of Jonny’s bag of tricks – gifted Ben a gorgeous pair of panda eyes.


     The Bar: dimmed lighting, trendy crowd.

I’m perched atop a barstool next to Ben. He managed to remove most of the black circles from around his eyes, and is now nursing a sore ego, his eyes firmly set on the upside-down screen of his mobile.

I order myself a drink and get one for him too, to make up for my earlier outburst of hilarity at his expense. Don’t know what his poison of choice is, but you can’t go wrong with G&T. Gin-and-tonix: the it drink across all galaxies, according to the hitchhiker’s guide. Perfect backdrop for a heart-to-heart about life, the universe and everything, isn’t it?

“I do that too,” I say, not making eye contact.

“Pretend to be interested in your phone?”

“Works every time,” I look at him, eyes smiling.

“Not for me apparently.”

“My bar, my rules,” positively grinning now.

Ben looks over his shoulder, across the bar, to where Jonny’s approach has been stalled by a throng of swooning admirers. He looks grumpy, or pretend grumpy.  Can’t tell which.

“The Sun’s Sexiest Man Alive for two years running and they still crowd Jonny first,” he scowls.

“He is incredibly good looking,” I say.

“And I?” he asks.

I think back to Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein. Even stark naked and with horrendous make-up on, Jonny’s creature looked determinately cute. Ben’s angular looks gloved on the disfigurement with relative ease by comparison.

“Your appeal lies elsewhere,” I say.

“For someone who insists they fancy me, your flattery skills are conspicuous by their absence.”

“I’ve always had odd tastes in men,” I say. Now, if that’s not praise, I don’t know what is!

He shakes his head and laughs: “It’s midnight.”

“Will you turn into a pumpkin?”

“Do you like pumpkins?”

“I like all things ginger: pumpkins, carrots, hairy coos…”


“Highlander ones.”

“Can you stop bringing up your husband every time we meet? You know things never work out when you do.”

I laugh: “Just kiss me already.”


     Somewhere off the coast of Ithaca, the home of Odysseus. Azure waters, calm under the midmorning sun.

He spies a deserted beach in the near distance. Doesn’t have to tell me; I know he fancies a pre-lunch swim. I’m at the helm; skip for today so change course to do his bidding. He could do with a little cheering up. I’ve just recounted my latest Cumberbatch dream.

Him: I can’t believe you’re telling me this!

Me:  I can’t believe you’re –!

Him (cheeky): It all ends up in the sea anyway. Just cutting out the middle man.

Me (incensed): I bet you Cumberbatch doesn’t even dream of getting his benny out – and into the wind too!

Him: Ha! Your “boyfriend” gets his “benny” out enough as it is.

Me: You’ll find it’s his bottom that gets most coverage.

Him: (presents his bum for inspection.)

Me: Ni-i-ce. You bottomless wonder…

He kisses me. Full anemone lips on mine. Hands firmly implanted on my bottom.

Him: Grrr! You’re in for a radishing.

Me (giggle): What’s the colloquial for catalyst?

He looks nonplussed.

Me: You know how you can have a safe word when you want for something to stop. What’s the opposite of that?

Him: Cumberbatch?

To be continued…


You might also like:

Interview on working with Cumberbatch: #BenedictCumberbatch

A snippet of Cumberthings yet to come: COMING SOON…

The prequel to Midnight (Dreamscapes Epic): Sex with you-know-who

The confession that started it all: I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire




Welcome to The Batch on Sunday: your online-home for all things CumberVic
The Batch on Sunday reports!

     Ever the resilient professional, Benedict Cumberbatch does not take bad reviews lightly. After an underwhelming performance in Sex with you-know-who, he attempts a comeback with a guest stint in Midnight Snog: long-awaited sequel and an integral part of writer-turned-director Vic Briggs’s Dreamscapes Epic.
The Batch on Sunday was astonished that Cumberbatch got a return invite all things considered, so we take this opportunity to interview co-star Vic Briggs on their latest joint project.

BoS: “Now that Midnight Snog has moved into post-production, can you tell our readers whether Cumberbatch’s snogging was up to par, or was it another ‘between the sheets’ fiasco?”

VB: “It was a relief to see him back in form. Of course, it is always tough to film intimate scenes, even for someone of Ben’s calibre and proficiency.”

BoS: “You last crossed swords with Cumberbatch over Sex with you-know-who. Given that you’ve described his –ahem – shall we say enactment? …as ‘rubbish’ and ‘absolute crap’, can we assume there was a lot of tension on set to start with?”

VB: “You’ll have to be the judge of that once the sequel is out.”

BoS: “Vic, you appear determined to be coy about it. Well, we all like a little mystery, but a preview would be nice.”

VB: “He-he. Ben was gracious about it. And there was certainly no trace of former wooden-ness in his performance. I speak for everyone, Benedict included; I’m sure, in hoping that was one limp act he can leave behind.”

BoS: “Is it fair to say that he’s keen to court your good opinion after the Sex with you-know-who disaster?”

VB: “He certainly wouldn’t take no for an answer. Ben is one determined cookie and a deliciously talented one too. But you’ll have to watch Midnight Snog to find out more.”

No flop then! With this The Batch on Sunday bids farewell to the Dreamscapes Epic director. If Vic Briggs keeps it up, we are in for one busy season. Watch this space, #BenedictCumberbatch aficionados everywhere!

While we wait for the premiere of Midnight Snog, you might want to check out the confession: I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire and the umm… director’s x-rated debut Sex with you-know-who

I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Daily Prompt: Pants on Fire

I don’t fancy Benedict Cumberbatch. Please! I only admire his craft.

Half true.

I am an admirer of his craft.

He’s very good at what he does. Hell! The only line I could remember after watching Atonement was his: “Bite it. You have to bite it.” And let’s admit it; he didn’t feature much in it.

I saw Danny Boyle’s Frankenstein four times. Yes. Four. In one week. I confess, I  gave Jonny Lee Miller’s naked bod an equal share of that, but it was Cumberbatch that got me standing in line at 7am in front of the NT, shaking against the lukewarm contents of a coffee cup.

His acting prowess made an Arthur Conan Doyle fan of me. He rekindled my passion for theatre. I have a lot to be thankful for in that respect.

But. I have to concede, reluctantly, shame-faced, that I also fancy the pants off him. Have done, obsessively so, for some time now.

It’s so bad that my husband’s nickname for Cumberbatch is ‘your boyfriend’.

“When’s your boyfriend’s show next on? Taking their time with the new Sherlock, aren’t they?”

“It was awfully cold on that stage. You boyfriend didn’t get much of a chance to show off, did he?”

“If you say one more time that I’m the Scottish version of your boyfriend, I’m getting the Tesco divorce pack. I’m serious.”

You get the picture.

Why did I lie about it? Because I prided myself on being a rational creature, someone who saw celebrity culture for the mind-bending, money-peddling machine that it is. I was so damned smug. Fell off that horse pretty quickly, didn’t I?

I am still at a loss to understand how it could happen. Yes. That’s it. It is something that’s happened to me. I mean, I like Ben Wishaw’s acting too, David Tennant’s, James McAvoy’s, Tom Burke’s… But I’m not stalking any of them on networking sites.

I finally understand what actors feel like when they suddenly get famous and struggle to cope with all the attention. As a recovering Cumberbatch addict, I feel the same in reverse: deer-in-headlights bewildered by this obsessive streak I had no idea existed in anyone!

Embarrassed? Yes. My only hope is that now I’ve confessed it, I can gather myself up and move the f on.


Full Moon Murder: There are two sides to every story

Full Moon

I was standing next to her motionless body, my hands soaked in her blood.

The apartment, succumbed into darkness, was in complete disarray. I sat there for a long time, my legs criss-crossed under my body in the Hindu fashion, just looking into her open eyes, all semblance of light long gone from their regard.

I smiled. It felt good to be free of her at last.

She had been my poison of choice for the last two years, and it was all over in a matter of minutes. How had it come to this?

Where did things go so wrong that only death could resolve it? Death… the times that we had discussed it over coffee and cigarettes were countless. Death, she had told me, unshackles you from all things mortal. It is the ultimate adventure. Death is freedom.

Well. She was free at last then, and so was I.

I took her hand in mine and caressed it gently.

“I will miss you, Celia,” I whispered, kissing her lifeless fingers.

She called herself Parvati this last year or so, the unknowable but enlivening feminine force in Hindu mythology. I refused to acknowledge her under that name. Unknowable – yes – one never really knew Celia. I joked that Naylor’s Indrani was a better fit for her: the goddess of wrath, as beautiful as she was wicked. She did not take kindly to my assertion.

There was a time when I believed her to embody all that was pure and good in the world, but she proved me wrong. She was the most powerful woman I’d ever met, possessed of an animalistic sexuality and evil genius. She infused my world with her magic…

She was my full moon.

I gave her so much of myself, that I got to a point where I could not imagine myself apart from her.  I loved her so much, so desperately and deeply that it almost hurt to think it. She crushed my heart, she swept her feet on my soul and left me crumbled: a shadow of the girl that I once was. She destroyed all my relationships one by one, until she was the only thing in the world I had left, and yet… I loved her, been devoted to her. She betrayed me again and again, until I could no longer find excuses for her behaviour, until I ran out of reasons to believe her lies.

I took her petite body in my arms and carried it into the bathroom. I set her smoothly in the tub and got the water running. I took her clothes off one by one and washed her wound carefully, until only an open scar remained, but no stain of blood. She looked so innocent, laying there inert and peaceful. Her hazel eyes were still open, an empty stare fixed upon my face.

“There is no point in berating me, Celia, I will make this journey all alone” I scolded her gently, passing my fingers over her pupils and closing her eyes: “You have a journey of your own to take… Satan has long been awaiting his bride…” I sniggered.

I took all her jewels off, her medallion, bracelets and rings and put them in the little wooden box: a present she gave me in parting. She had made this so easy.

She made her goodbyes in the last few weeks, and insisted that she would not be contacting anyone whilst in India. India was her Mecca, the root and ending of her hypocrisy.

Celia was not a religion; Celia was a way of life

A life of sin and depravity masquerading as virtue and wholeness.

She was other-worldly, she insisted. This world was too lowly, too human for her. Money, things, property of any kind was a burden she did not want to bare. She was concerned with higher spheres. I laughed at my naiveté. I wanted so desperately to believe that someone like her could exist, that I bought into all that bullshit. If only I knew then what I now discerned, so much of this could have been avoided.

I was a child and she abused my trust and my friendship. As my world crushed around me, reduced to rubble, she announced that she would finally leave for India. It was a journey she had to undertake alone, to find her calling, to cleanse her soul. As if the waters of the Ganges could ever purify her putrid mind and body! The sacred river had been spared. The Thames would have to do.

I washed my hands slowly under the jet of water, one and then the other, watching my reflection. I had aged a lot in the past few months. Not outwardly perhaps, but certainly I felt much older than my years. I hardly recognised the face looking back at me in the mirror.

I took the scissors from the draw under the sink and slowly cut my hair. I loved it – my long blonde curls, but if I was to get out of the country safely I needed to alter my appearance. I watched the locks drop on the floor around me one by one, until it just about touched my shoulders. I did not realise how heavy hair really was. It felt as if a stone had lifted off my shoulders.

I turned towards Celia with a smile: “Believable, do you think?” I asked and then shook my head slowly: “Something is missing… The colour, don’t you think?” Her body stood still, irresponsive, small drops of water tricking down her thighs.  “You are right, Celia, the colour is all wrong. Lucky: I have your provision. How do you think I will look like as a brunette? Dashing! I’m sure you agree.” A manic laughter escaped me.

I still needed her approval even now.

I put on the gloves with minutiae attention to every motion under execution. I put the paste onto my scull, combing it in carefully, all the while regarding my reflection. The full moon watched accusing from beyond the window.

You have been seen. You will be caught.

Twenty minutes later it was done. It looked well. No one would have been able to tell the difference between Celia’s and my hair now. The next hurdles were my eyes and complexion. We were roughly the same height, and our features were not dissimilar. I could pull it off easily enough.

There was a lot to do before I would leave the following day: a body to drown, an apartment to sterilise, a bag to pack, and a new identity to take over. I will leave this city and its darkness behind me forever. She wanted to abandon me and my world, but now it was I who will leave both behind. I will have her forever. I will not be with her, but become her.

“Celia is dead. Long live Celia.”

I was the full moon.