In the days of lockdown, the golden arches of the local McDonald’s were void of the American sunshine I’ve known my entire life without ever having stepped foot there. The country, that is, not the restaurant. They’re now back the same as they once were, shining brightly as hoards of undesirables spend money they don’t have on food that’s not food. Not that I’m any better. Far from it. It’s like nothing’s changed. I miss the sensation of missing things. I yearn for a desperate sense of longing that can never be quenched. That said, an absence of my fellow man strikes fear into my heart, yet it’s what I long for more than anything. I want to be alone forever. No colours, just the infinite darkness of God’s comforting womb until the very last atoms in the universe come undone to an audience of no one. He spat me out though, didn’t he? I was happy where I was, and then he opened my eyes when I wanted to keep them firmly shut. I’d rather he had let me be, like those dim golden arches waving to me as I pass them on the bus each morning on my way into work, but no, out I came, begging and screaming to go back. The world, in the morning, is waiting to be born. It’s the only thing that’s good about this place—that moment when everything is dead yet possible— and then it’s born, and down the toilet it goes, like a turd full of sweetcorn. Under starlight, the watery womb of these childhood streets wraps around me like the limbs of my dead grandparents. I know the scent so well. If I look at my phone, I’ll see the time. So I don’t look at my phone. In my pocket, it rattles around with the handful of stones I’ve picked up on my journey. Little relics, they are, lifted from the lawns of people I once knew. Some sexual, many not. The more I gather, the less chance there is of me being forgotten. The more I put down into words, the better the chance of stabilising my mind in a time that continues to bewilder.