Nineteenth of January, 2020

The forecast had been for a sunny day but when they awoke — entangled & pink, still very satisfied and full from the night before — it was quite overcast. There were no curtains hanging over the windows of the flat, indeed nothing to stop the daylight — at that time of year, very dim — from stumbling all over the furniture in a sleepy kind of grey; one had only to open their tired eyes to see what the weather was like. Over the bedroom window was a net curtain, which did little to obscure the red lamp light at night or the Finnish day at dawn. By the time the water had boiled in the pan and the coffee was done, it was beginning to brighten; fingers of blue sky running through grey hair. As she applied her makeup by the sill, he rolled his cigarettes. A news article was being read out and it filled the flat as they spoke silly-little-things to each other, negotiating their paths over the smallest of scents, the last remaining crockery of last night’s festivities.
    The city was caught in a perpetual golden hour; its latitude meaning that the sun never strayed from its angle of wonderful illumination. To go wandering around noon one would believe the sun was about to set, yet there it lingered just above the horizon, hovering, teasing you toward the deep darkness of a Nordic night. They walked towards the water. She led him to a small wooden hut in the distance—‘All the tourists come here.’ Inside was a tremendous cosiness, a soup of dirty window daylight and brown rings on worn wooden tables. Above the counter was a sign that read NO SPECIAL COFFEE. The cinnamon bun was freshly hot, tasted of cardamom. Outside a gaggle of strangers clung around a fire where the wind blew sharp. The two of them passed on by, sharing the bun squeezed between a thin paper napkin.
    Sundays and graveyards. She pointed to her favourite one: a sloppily carved lion sitting on a perfectly rectangular stone, the name of its memory chiselled on the side. ‘In London all the graves are crammed together, a mess … here they are spaced out, organised.’ The sun came through trees and the teeth of tombs.
    They cut zigzags. She led, he followed.
    In time they would come to forget the order of things, what happened and when. The scenery itself would fade out of recollection. Most moments could never be savoured enough; even nostalgia did not paint in such vivid colours. There was only a passage of time and the remembrance of feelings so wonderful.
    The flea market would close in five minutes and the loner tending the till dimmed the lights down one side, forcing everyone perusing the secondhand goods into the glassware, ornaments and DVD section. There was, amongst it all, a box of chocolates. They wasted some time there, then struck out into the street. Everything so calm, so Sunday.
    ‘I need the toilet.’
    ‘Me too.’
    Up the hill was a museum in an old stately home, full of oil paintings and varnish. They used the toilets, then took a moment to look at the opulent furnishings, cabinets and works of art. They stood in front of a vanity unit, she pulled a phone from her pocket and took a picture of them.
      ‘I want to show you these cliffs,’ she said to him. The colours were perfect. He was sure that the camera in his pocket would not do them justice. She stood there, examining the carvings in the rock; some of it over a century old, others more recent and many an engraved cock. The sun shone low over the water and the sound of the sea. He did not feel anxious or terrified of life; was it her or the city? Was it both? He looked at her and she looked as good as she ever did. He raised his camera, certain the colours would not come out as he wished. The counter showed thirty-eight; the wheel could not be turned; the film had run out. The sheets of rock, disruption of the sea, her gold headband catching the light, and her figure making its way to him. Most moments could never be savoured enough; even 35mm Fuji did not paint in such vivid colours.
    She had picked out a cinema for him to watch the Liverpool/United game. On the sign outside it advertised BEER HOTDOGS GIRLS. It was their sort of place. Every red velvet seat was taken, mostly by twenty-something men and the odd girlfriend bewilderedly staring at her phone, praying for some kind of bomb threat evacuation.  Not a spare seat in the house, so they went down the road to a pub that smelled of butter and garlic. They took up a bench to themselves. She rubbed close to him and he did not know he was born. Everything about it seemed so perfect, so absurd and amusing. She got into it and told him so. On the shirts of the Finnish Liverpool fans were names from ten years ago, more; they dragged him back to college days. Good-humouredly they hurled taunts at one another, then laughed great puffing bellows.
    On the tram home—‘Let’s buy some sweets and order pizza.’
    On the tram home—‘I was going to say that exact thing.’
    There were candles and there was comedy. They ate till they were full and then ate sweets. He shared his with hers and she reached in, rummaged like a child, commenting all the time, critiquing every kind—‘I’ve not tried this one before!’ He put his head in her lap and could not keep his eyes from closing. She finished removing her makeup and contact lenses; as she did, he wrote down everything they had done that day. The bedroom was all red from the lamp. She climbed in next to him, extending her limbs about his. All the while she was watched. Her nightly routine smelled of tea leaves. It was all over his senses. She was blurred in the darkness. He was, too.

—Written in February, 2020