I sit at the bus station, hovering at the border of unconsciousness. I'm so hungry, so tired. I can't afford to pass out though - I'll miss my chance.
Hopefully these cramps will pass.
I grip the ticket a little tighter, trying to pull myself together by focusing on it, until there's nothing else in the world but my ticket at the end of a dark tunnel.
My ticket out of here.
Pain from the cramps again.
I look up at the clock. Two hours until the bus leaves.
Bristol. That's where I'm going.
I don't know anyone in Bristol. I've never been there before. I'm not even sure where Bristol is.
But I'm tired of stinking, tired of begging, tired of losing hours to an ever-decreasing high, tired of being ignored and trodden on.
Bristol is my clean break.
No dealers, nobody stealing my stuff because I'm not taking anything with me. Just me and the ticket. All I have to do is get on the bus, get to Bristol, and survive cold turkey. Then I can try for a normal life.
Whatever a normal life is.
I wonder about the lady who gave me this ticket - what's her life like? Who was she going to see in Bristol? Why did she decide not to go?
All I know about her is that she didn't give any money, and walked past as if I wasn't there. Then she stopped, as if she'd had a thought, and handed me the ticket. "Maybe you can use this. I can't." And then she walked away, heels clacking.
London is killing me. I realised that a couple of nights ago, when I remembered that the highs used to last so long...
A man walks past, and I almost asked for change. Reflexively. I just about stopped myself, but I might get another walkpast from Security. I hold the ticket tighter again.
It's been over an hour already. Even security has started to ignore me, so I might be safe. That's the worst thing about my life. Being ignored. Being a non-person.
It's being a non-person that lets people treat you badly. That was something else I'd realised recently, as someone hurled abuse at me and kicked me for begging.
That's what I really want to run away from. Not London, not the dealers, not the begging. The being ignored. The being sub-human.
Two more hours at the bus station. Waving my ticket at anyone who tries to move me on. Two more hours, and then the journey to Bristol, and then maybe a new chance. Or maybe not.
Maybe I'll die somewhere that isn't London. With no friends, nobody to help, nobody to care.
No change then, except not in London.
In two hours.