Picture by Route79: Get off at Alperton
The pub serves cheap beer and home-made soup of the day, different every time.
The home in “home-made” belongs to Amanda; she cooks at night and carries the pan to the pub first thing in the morning, one stop outward on an empty train against a rush of inbound commuters. The pools of vomit on the platform and cold footpath are coloured by the soup she delivered the day before. Seven days a week, seven colours in the rainbow, she thinks once, but it doesn’t work: they follow her through tomato and carrot and squash and pea, but demur at blueberry.
She tries beetroot, once, and wide pink polka-dots scatter the footpath, stains adhering lightly for weeks after the medium that carried them is washed away. Turmeric and saffron last even longer, until they disappear under autumn leaves.
In winter it’s still dark as she carries the soup in the morning; bus headlights give her unstable shadows. Everything is purple and murky orange under the reflected light of the London sky.
She goes on a research trip to South America, leaving two weeks’ frozen soup in the pub kitchen. Some of the regulars complain. In the desert at night—air switching from warm to cold in a single lungful, sky clearer than she’s ever seen it—she scans a UV torch across the sand and watches for the pinprick dots of light. She’s got a bucket, and a secret compartment in her suitcase, and a recipe for scorpion gazpacho.