She knew it was not a ring. The box was the wrong shape, longer, oblong. And it would all have been too soon, Leave or no Leave. But the curving band of gold, the detailed glitter, the way it lay against the satin; “it makes my heart spin”, she said. “Like the rings of Saturn” he was smiling, “except they’re made of dust” and he pinned it to her lapel. She took in every line of his face. Nearly fifty nights of darkness, uncertainty: nearly fifty mornings of debris, uncertainty. The bus was slow in the blackout but Balham Palladium could just be glimpsed now from the top deck, All This and Heaven Too, the eight o’clock showing. His arm encircled her as they moved towards the stairs. The glass glittering, the metal curving, the low hum of the plane, nearly fifty days of it had blunted their fear and they walked slowly to the entrance of the Underground. After the blast why was it she could remember every intricate line of that brooch but nothing at all of his face?

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