Amanda picks me up in her car. She is playing some music which sounds as if someone recorded the Sisters of Mercy being attacked by a swarm of robot bees, speeded the result up until it hit 400 beats a minute, and then played it backwards.
"What's this?" I ask.
"Aggrotech. Or maybe it's EBM. I get confused with genre definitions. Cool, no?"
"It sounds like Satan being sick," I say.
Amanda is offended. "I can put on The Beautiful South if you fucking want."
I sit down on the front seat and sling my bag into the back. "I didn't say that was a bad thing."
Amanda pulls smoothly away from the kerb. She glances sideways at me.
"So how'd he take it?" she asks.
I shift slightly. The seat suddenly feels uncomfortable.
"Um...ok? I think?"
The truth is I'm not sure how Chris took it. He didn't reply to my text, so I rang him. He didn't take my call or get back to me. Three hours later I was losing my nerve and knew it had to be done one way or the other. I rang back and left him an answering machine message. That was two days ago and I have not yet had a response. At work, I've avoided those places I know he's likely to be and I haven't bumped into him accidentally.
I am aware dumping someone by voicemail is a social crime and I don't really want to admit I've done this to Amanda. But I tell her anyway, because I tell Amanda everything. She shrugs and says: "Whatever. It's not like he was making any effort."
The car moves me through the winter day. I feel safe. Cocooned, here in the front of Amanda's car, watching the world through glass. I see an old man inching along on a zimmer frame, a plaid scarf wrapped round his neck. I see a squirrel bouncing along the path like a toy someone has thrown.
Chris is slipping smoothly from my mind, through my fingers. He's over.
I've always been this way. When things are over I forget them. Sometimes when I think back over my life I realise how many people have moved in and out of it, how many people I have met who are no longer part of my world. Best friends, boyfriends, people I loved at the time. Some moved to London, some I lost touch with, some died. All forgotten, except for that once in a while when I rifle through dusty old memories as if I'm looking through a photo album.
Mostly, though, I have no use for the past. You can't change it, after all. All it is is reference; a guide to doing the future better.
The song changes. Amanda chants along with the music: "Blood, cocaine, MDMA." Some of her hair has come loose from her blue polka-dot headscarf. "After party fornicate, cut and drink with XP8."
Paradigm shifts can happen to individuals as well as societies, and frequently do. I have had some myself. You think one way for a long time, and then something changes and your thoughts flip and the world is different.
Or it's not; the truth is the world is exactly the same. Your friends are the same, your job's the same, your partner's the same. They are all doing the same things in the same way.
But it's all different, because you're different. Because you see it all through different eyes. It's an internal revolution, or a metamorphosis. It transforms you forever. I was in love with Chris, or I thought I was. Now I'm not in love with him any more. And just like I couldn't imagine not being in love with him when I was, now I'm not in love any more I can't remember or imagine what it felt like.
It's a minor metamorphosis compared with some I've had, but it has the same effect. First I am one thing, then another.
We pull up outside Gin's house. She is standing by the kerb, looking impatient. She has a large brown bag slung over one shoulder. She is wearing a knee-length red leather coat and oversized sunglasses.
Amanda pulls up. Gin climbs into the back seat. She smells of Chanel and cigarette smoke.