He wanted to walk home in the rain. She didn’t. He said it would be romantic. She said it wouldn’t; they would just catch colds. He said he liked the way her hair looked after rain; untamed, anarchic. She said walking home in the rain was what they did in Woody Allen movies, and that she could not bear to think of Woody Allen movies anymore. He said neither could he, but that it happened in Richard Curtis movies too. She could not bear, she told him, to think of Richard Curtis movies either, and that that had nothing to do with who Richard Curtis was as a person – it was just that, in her opinion, all of them except for Four Weddings and a Funeral were shit. He agreed, and hailed a cab. He sat up front, because he did not want to be the kind of person who did not, and she squeezed in behind the driver’s seat. The cab, both he and she thought, smelt new, vaguely chemically, as though its upholstery had recently been laundered. She gazed at him, his face in profile, wondering what it was about his soft jaw, his fleshy nose, his uneven stubble and large ears that had first endeared him to her. He had made her laugh, she guessed, at a time in her life when she had not ordinarily been disposed to do so. He looked back at her once, like Orpheus in the underworld, but by then she had turned away, a poster for a museum of anatomy catching her eye. On another day she might have suggested they go there, make the most of their day, not return to the hotel until late. But it was not another day. It was today. And it was raining, like in a funny/sad movie she did not want to watch anymore.


She wanted pizza for dinner. There was a place, she said, that a friend had recommended, had eaten at every night of his three-month residency. He wanted to go down to the hotel restaurant, the one that was on the mezzanine level and did cheap cocktails from four o’clock to six o’clock. They could have a cheap cocktail, she said, and then go for pizza. They did. He had a single white Russian – hardly worth it in her opinion – and she had an espresso martini, which the bar staff had never heard of and had to Google, and something combining scotch and blood orange that she had seen in a TV show but could not afterwards remember the name of. The pizza was good, and cheap. They agreed on the topping – margarita, no funny business, just fresh basil, a plainish sort of cheese, and a sauce, not too sweet, made with fresh tomatoes and a good quality olive oil. For dessert they had black coffee and almond biscotti. Afterwards, in the street, she had a cigarette. He did not. It had stopped raining. The night was warm and still, the sky a grim smudge above the big city. She watched him through the window as he paid the bill – ‘l’addition s’il vous plait,’ she had seen him mouth at first, forgetting they were not in Paris anymore – and wondered how they would remember this night. There was that syndrome, she remembered, that struck Japanese tourists when they arrived in Paris and found the city to be less than they had dreamed. But they were not in Paris anymore.


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