Under the thick wolf sweater, the stays of Andrea’s corset had flexed with every movement of the carriage. We went to a fancy dress party once as geologists. I had a rock hammer and a leather bag; Andrea wore the sweater and carried a field guide to the sedimentary beds of southwest England. Everything seems a long time ago and I give her raincoat a long hard stare. She rang from Hendon to say she’d be late. Last month in the supermarket we bought double cream and stopped off at a DIY store for a metre-long measuring rule. There was no sense in trying to understand any of it. I just said yes to most of the things she suggested. So “yes” was this beautiful little word we continually batted back and forth. The first time she spoke to me was in the music library and somewhere between Berlioz and Debussy she had my full attention. I asked if she worked at the library. She laughed, plucked a score from the cabinet and walked away. Andrea can play virtuoso piano. Played. I imagine her on some rain-washed Hendon pavement – she’d fit right in there. She can bark a good order; flick the tip of an instruction so it catches fine skin. I smile remembering this, as Andrea’s mother is looking through her drawers for clues, for a list, an errant diary entry, for some kind of note. Wherever she is now I hope she can see that I’ve hidden the handcuffs from the shop in Hoxton. And then her mother asks if she thinks she had planned the whole thing, and I say “no”. Then she asks if I think she’d forgiven her and of course, I say “yes”. I always say yes.

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