I wake up an hour later than intended

I think I am sitting next to a Frenchman

I can feel him judging my croissant

It is quite clearly from Starbucks and tastes like cardboard

I feel myself beginning to judge my croissant

There are three women on the row behind me all wearing navy

but perhaps it’s royal blue. Now I am second guessing myself

The woman in the middle sees me looking

I only looked round to see out of the window

It is raining

The rain streams across the window: we are moving

The woman on the left makes the sign of the cross, a child copies

The Frenchman turns to me and says something French

It’s more like an exclamation, but I can’t speak French so let’s just say that he says something French and shrugs his shoulders

He looks excited as if it’s his first time flying

If this is his first time then how did he get here?

I don’t respond

I only suppose that he is French until now because he is wearing a stripy T-shirt and he has said something that sounded like French to me

The pilot is French

I spend the whole flight with headphones in trying not to listen to the Frenchman talking to his companion just in case

The plane lands 24 minutes later than promised

I decide to ask the French people if they know the way to the train station

They are in fact French

They do not know the way to the train station

I tell them that I recently learnt to count to ten in French

They do not look impressed

I can see why: I can count to twenty in German

They seem about as fond of me as I am of my goldfish

The Frenchman is laughing at me and I am only half sure why

It is a beautiful day and I want to make him laugh

I am glad that he is French and that he is wearing stripes

I am more disappointed than I would like to admit that his companion is not wearing stripes

I try not to let it show on my face

They say my future is to sit at the river’s edge and look at the terraced houses

I suppose what they mean is that I am not going to catch my train

I am texting you and I miss my luggage

—Run! she says

Outside the train window it all looks so French

Those farmhouses

Fields of sunflowers dying

Twenty aluminium polytunnel frames empty in the field

A spray of water in the middle of another field

A flock of sparrows that moves towards the spray

On thinking that those three things were so beautiful but only in their belongingness to each other in that moment

In the loneliness of singularity

In how obvious this thought is but how transcendent it felt at the time of thinking it

The silver, clear blackness of it all