A tiny interview room in Parkville Police Station in Cambridge, and I'm being thrown out of the country. I'm pretty calm, which is either what you'd expect or very odd. I still don't know. The Border Control officer is taking my fingerprints and I'm watching my dark blue whorls and ridges appear with what ought to be stunned detachment, and I guess it might have been. The cops use infrared machines now to take your prints, but Border Control hasn't quite caught up to that. She has a plate of glass in a crumpled, inky bag along with the pad. She gives me a wet-wipe to clean my hands. She is of minute proportions, smaller than me. Mascara, I-don't-care hairdo. A distant part of my mind is amazed that she is not bent by the weight of the explosion of ID swipecards and keys she has around her neck on a Border Control lanyard like a colony of mussels. She has the name of one of my fictional childhood heroines, which is flicking metallic smears of overkill onto the bright colours of farce already drenching the place. Her pen doesn't work.
There's a fan on the table. Seventies laminate. Ringbinder like a guy who took a too-big bite of burger. Forms. She tells me I have 28 days to leave the country. Not the usual 14, because she appreciates my honesty, don't you know. There is a new paintjob in here. Another layer of magnolia right over the top, the layers of paint reaching in toward you, slow interior drift. My new shoes wore the skin off my feet on the way in here. She asks me if I am pregnant. If I have a history of harming myself. If I am taking any medications. A little blood crusting slowly where my shoe meets my foot. Soon she's going to let me out of here, and it will break. Walking to exile on bloody feet. But she has no sense of humour, so I'd better not laugh.