We lay on the bed. Clinging to it as if it’s a life raft, and we’re adrift. If I’m honest, we’re barely more than strangers, connected by nothing more than a desire to spend the long days fucking and reading. I read the English newspapers brought by the landlady three days late, and Byron, she reads someone’s list of the 100 best novels. Today is “The Catcher In The Rye”.
She teased me for reading Byron, I slapped the book against her bare thigh and she squealed and snatched it away. She refused to give it back, she laughed and insisted that I call her Byron. Her accent melted my heart and I couldn’t refuse.
Three days later the pet name has stuck. I go to make more coffee and on my return, as has become the agreement, I claim my payment for leaving the bed. She loses her page and then her book in the landscape of the sheets. She teases me again and wants me to call her Byron before she’ll let me finish.
Afterwards we drink our coffee and watch the boats in the harbour. The houses across the water are painted bright colours. Eiders bob between the traffic and she refers to Holden’s questions about where the ducks go.
The next day the landlady is sick. Her son brings bread and cheese and coffee, and forgets the newspapers.
When we wake up on Tuesday she stretches sleepily and says she’ll go out. I watch her from the window, clutching a coat to herself as she crosses the street and smiles to the locals. In her absence I reread “The Catcher In The Rye”, and forget that she never came back.