There was an endless, hacking, dry cough coming through the paper-thin walls, which combined with the aching squeal of protest in the springs of the bed as I tried to find an almost comfortable position to lie in, made sleep seem a grimly distant prospect. At least, I thought, I would get no unwelcome visitors here. The mildew-scented air, battled with a slightly sour odour of fabric left too long undried that was perfuming my pillowcases. It reminded me of the smell of the dirty-linen basket at home.
I had no home now, I had forfeited that in exchange for a promise of happiness.
Thoughts and emotions welled up anew, like bubbles rising in a boiling pot, and the more I tried to let them go, the faster they seemed to simmer. So I gave up the battle and opened my eyes, the sickly yellow glow of the flickering, streetlight outside the window revealing where the wallpaper had pinched-up and peeled off, revealing the card with a picture of a single rose. It had been my talisman for weeks and my promised ticket to freedom – five magic words: ‘Trust me, I love you’.
My trust in that love had brought me here – this place that was supposed to have been a sanctuary but offered only cold comfort.