Emily’s ears barely registered the muttering that slowly crept around the tube. “Rain again,” the other commuters complained, as if some celestial bureaucrat was judging them. But between her extra-strength breakfast cappuccino and months worth of pure excitement rising to bloom, Buckingham Palace could have materialized inside her purse without her notice.
She’d arrived in London three nights before, staying in a room she’d booked through a short-term lodging website. The couple who owned the house seemed cordial enough, and Emily initially attempted to engage them in small talk. She abandoned her efforts after the second evening; they both worked at the hospital a few miles away and were too perpetually exhausted to elicit interest in her backstory.
She disembarked from the tube and breathed in, welcoming the soaked street corner like an old, distant friend. Things had spiraled off the rails tremendously, of course. Her ex-fiancé’s expression was finally fading, half a decade after refusing to move out of her mind. She still expected to round a corner and discover her past, chain-smoking and charming, poised to understand her again for the price of a coffee.
“I’m here,” she whispered, fishing in her pocket for her new flat’s keys. “Five years, but I’m here. This belongs to me.”
Emily turned the key into the lock and pushed, blinking back the tiny droplets forming around her eyes. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had everything.