--- Lyssa ---
On the tube, I get the chance to take a good look at my older sister. She’s skinnier than the last time I saw her. She looks dreamy and blissful, too. She’s wearing sandals, denim mini-skirt, and a baggy loose-knit jumper, bright pink, with just a black push-up bra underneath. She’s got this ridiculously cute hat, with a dog’s face on it, and little ears sticking out the top. Lyssa has been seeing Denny for a while now. That’s who we’re going to see, on the other side of London, south of the river and all that.
We get off at Brixton. Back streets and alleyways, and then she tells me we’re at his place. His flat is ex-local authority, ex-official inhabitants. Demolition notices are all over the walls, we have to squeeze through two fences to get in. Lyssa does it with such ease: me, I’ve snagged my jeans and got a little tear on my coat. I’m not happy. She cuts across the debris and litter and decaying furniture in what I guess must have been a communal courtyard. She hasn’t changed from when we were kids. She doesn’t walk: she glides and skips at the same time with undulating fluidity. Not for the first time in my life, I want to be just like her. They’ve turned the power off, so the lifts don’t work. Seventh floor. That’s fourteen flights of stairs. Twelve stairs per flight: that’s 168 stairs, assuming, of course, that each flight has the same amount of stairs. The stairwell stinks of piss, vomit, and rubbish bags. There are coke cans and takeaway cartons and cigarette butts and black spoons and sludge, and vile black sludge. I’m feeling sick so I look up at my sister, climbing the stairs ahead of me as easily as if she was going down them, none of my huffing and trudging. At the seventh floor, we go through the door onto Denny’s walkway. There were twelve steps on each flight.