In my dream, it is morning. I get out of bed and go into the kitchen to make breakfast. Nothing is wrong. As the kettle whirrs, I hear a noise behind me. I turn around. Nothing is there, so I return to slicing fruit. As I slice a piece of melon, there is another noise. I turn around again. A man is lying on my sofa, cradled into a foetal position under a heap of blankets. Who is the man? I should be scared but it’s weirdly moving. I can’t see his face, but I can tell he is sad. I start to cry.
The man slowly wakes up, stretching his long limbs. He sits up. It’s Rory Stewart. He sees that I’m crying and starts to cry too. Tears run down both of our faces as we look at each other across the room. After a while, he stops crying. He gets up and hands me a tissue to dry my eyes with.
“It’s okay, Jack. I acknowledge your pain. You’re safe,” he says. His voice is soothing, and I feel safe. With my eyes, I ask him why he’s here. He understands why I’m curious but is evasive. “I’m not here to talk about myself. I want to learn about you.”
“Why me though?” I ask – again, non-verbally. He laughs. The shadow of a wry smile passes his lips. “I can see you’re not used to this. Maybe we should watch some television.” He sits down on the sofa and puts on Good Morning Britain. I feel as if he wants me to sit next to him, so I sit down too. We sit in silence for a few minutes, watching Piers Morgan and Susanna Reid. It’s on mute, so we just watch their mouths move.
When it cuts to an ad break, he turns to me and runs his fingers through my hair. I don’t know what to say, so I just nod. “Do you know why I’m here, Jack?” he asks. I have the feeling I knew the answer years ago. Seeing my hesitation, he says: “It’s because I want to connect with Londoners like you.” I start to tell him that I don’t live in London, but he puts a finger to my lips. “Shh. You don’t have to say anything. I like to get a sense of the space first.”
He closes his eyes and reaches his palms up to the ceiling. He is gently humming, and for a moment I imagine he’s levitating. “These walls are very kind,” he says mysteriously. “They have suffered, but they haven’t forgotten how to be kind. Am I right?” I simply smile at him.
“Lots of London homes are not this kind. You are one of the lucky ones,” he says. It’s not clear whether he’s talking to me or the flat. “I’ve been sleeping on sofas all across London, Jack. I want to be the first London Mayor who has slept on a sofa in every London borough. And you have helped me bring me a step closer to this dream.”
I feel happy for him, but confused. “How did you get in though?” I ask. He laughs softly. “My body is supple but strong. It allows me to climb up even the highest of drainpipes. Luckily, you left a window open, so I simply crept in after you fell asleep.” I move slightly further away from him on the sofa.
He sees my alarm and sadly looks down at his shoes. Did he sleep in shoes? He starts to mutter to himself. It’s hard to hear what he’s saying. “Said the wrong thing again… just like school… don’t listen to them…” I sense I should leave. Returning to the bedroom, I look over my shoulder as I leave. He sits on the floor with his hands over his head, rocking gently back and forth. I close the door, worried.
Some time passes. When I return to the kitchen, Rory is nowhere to be seen. The window is open, and I go to it just in time to see a blur of black suit dart around the corner. A note lies on the table. I pick it up to read. “Sorry not to be able to spend more time with you, Jack. Thank you for your hospitality. Would love it if you joined my campaign at https://www.roryforlondon.co.uk!”
I wake up, screaming.