It is amazing what difference a year makes, what you have forgotten in that time.
You have forgotten the stench. You keep your flat clean, sterilised, deliberately. The city has its own smell, but it's not unwelcome, traffic fumes, gardens, the sweet sweet smell of honeysuckle in the summer as you walk in the country. No, what you've forgotten is the stench of urine, mixed in with burning textile and burning flesh as you mentally prepare for your latest tattoo that you proudly wear. Of the stench of shit as you lose control of yourself, electricity coursing through you. Of vomit as you retch because it's been so long since you've eaten that your stomach can't cope.
You have forgotten what being on your own for days, weeks at a time feels like. The Grid is always full of people, every time you step outside into the streets of London there are literally millions of people around you. It's noisy, full of people chatting on phones, listening to ipods, talking, crowded as you walk along Oxford Street, people jostling with each other, full. You've forgotten what it's like to have no contact with anyone else, where people are discouraged with threat of pain and death from interacting with you, when the only contact is someone physically picking you up to be tortured, screaming at you in a language that is not your own.
You have forgotten what sheer, stomach-churning despair feels like. Yes, you feel low, when you remember the years you have lost, when you think about her, and how easily she moved on, made a new family away from you, when you think about how it felt when Harry was missing, but nothing compares to the point you were pushed to when you stood with the noose around your neck, ready to kick the chair away. How you felt utterly broken when he stopped you, untangling you and gently forcing you to move again. You've forgotten how you couldn't even fight with him, you just accepted it, barely managing to move your limbs. You were never left with a chair again.
You have forgotten what it's like now, with her touch there with you at night, soothing, gentle, caressing, loving, there, beside you. You've forgotten what it's like to be so starved of physical contact that the beatings become something you crave, just to feel someone's hands on your skin. The caresses before the pain.
You have forgotten what he was like. The two sides to his nature. The one that enjoyed causing pain, that sat you, naked, pouring water all over you before turning on the electricity, his more natural side. But that other side, the gentler one... the one that could discuss Trollope and Oscar Wilde for hours on end, the person that could talk about birds, about visiting England... you've forgotten that too.
You have forgotten all of that deliberately in order to survive, until you see his face, there on the CCTV, looking at the camera, calling for you.
And it all comes flooding back. You know you will go, because he wants you to. Because you remember.