It is more than simply talking. Do they think I’m blind? I can see through the half-pulled blinds in the front window, through to the office, where they all stand, hats in hand, gathered by her desk.
Her slim body rings like a bell in her dress. She turns, laughing at some joke, and in that flash of hair they can see the nape of her white neck.
“One day you’ll have to introduce us to your friend, Lena. Maybe you two should call up your other girlfriends and we’ll all go for a night out.”
Her denial is light and casual. Perfume trails smokey from her waving hand. And she slips her arm into mine; for a moment it’s easy to believe that that’s all we are, two women arm-in-arm, our backs receding to the boys.
There is a lock on her door.
Sometimes the landlord will speak to us downstairs. He breathes heavily, awkwardly, as if there is something small and feral running his lungs. His huge stomach hangs sideways out of his coat. The weight makes him uncomfortable. Unsettled, motion is his habit: he leans on things and works them over with his thin, nervous hands. He speaks drumming his fingers on the undersides of tables, or placing one palm flat on a window pane, resting his unbalanced figure, breathing his belly out while his hand twitches, while his mouth opens, and warm, yeasty air flows out underneath his overgrown moustache.
“You’ve put a lock on the door. I’ll need a key. I need access to your room sometimes. To fix the heat.”