Chapter one


If I look hard enough, it will go away.
So I sit and I stare.
This morning I prayed for forgiveness.

It’s evening now. The sky through the window tapers up from the rooftops, red to blue, blue to black. I’m on a chair with a cushion tied to the seat. I moved it from the kitchen nearly a year ago. It doesn’t belong there anymore. It’s just the chair by the bed that no-one else sits on. It gives me backache. A strip of light shines through from the landing. I think about it waking her up, hurting her eyes should they open. I imagine I’m someone else looking in through the window from across the street, watching this room faintly lit by the glow of another. I hope someone sees me, follows the light through the gap in the door and writes down what I’m about to do.

Angelica walks in. She offers me a piece of chocolate cake.
‘Have you finished?’ she says. ‘It’s almost time.’
I don’t answer properly. I never answer properly. I sit and I stare.
‘Did you know the Russians have a special word for light blue?’
She looks away. Sips her tea. Shakes her head.
‘Just get on with it,’ she replies. ‘Before your drink gets cold.’