somehow passed one by with its themes and variations and whatever you call them. Robert would have to stop him if he got too muddled. But with Sibelius it was quite the opposite. Like moving around in a vast landscape. It wasn’t that anything definite happened in the music, it just happened. He shook his head. That was probably a load of drivel. Robert smiled. Not at all. But he really liked it, indeed he did.
    He replenished their glasses. Good stuff, eh? Not the usual meths rubbish. They sat for a while listening to the grasshoppers and the cuckoo. A silhouette detached itself from the shadows and came closer. The lights shining out from the living room fell on Sonia’s round cheeks and pointed chin framed by her flowing hair. She had been for a walk. A little one to sleep on? She smiled indulgently. No, thanks. She turned on the threshold as she said goodnight. Robert could hear the floorboards creak and the dry sound of her bare feet on the stairs and far away a door beingclosed. His host sparked his lighter and sucked in his cheeks as he lit his cheroot again. Suddenly he looked very old.
    Being a dancer didn’t seem a very secure occupation. He held the cheroot vertically between two fingers watching the thin whirls of smoke. But still, he was glad she had at long last found out what she wanted to do. He paused for a moment. Sonia hadn’t been easy. Robert could feel the other man looking at him in the dimness, but couldn’t see his eyes. Well, they knew each other by now, he was sure he could rely on Robert not to let it go any further. He had never told anyone about it. He threw away the cheroot stub, a little red dot among the grass blades. Sonia was not his daughter. He had discovered it when she was small and their doctor, an old friend, had done a blood test on her for some reason. He had asked his friend to make the necessary analyses, confidentially. Neither of the girls nor their mother knew anything. But the tests had confirmed an old suspicion. And he could count on his fingers.
    Robert undressed without putting on the light. Lea slept on a divan placed against the opposite wall. Monica was awake when he lay down beside her. She pressed against him and kissed his neck, while her hand slid under the elastic on his underpants. They lay quite still when they heard her father’s heavy step on the stairs, like teenagers at a holiday camp, thought Robert. He felt burdened by the knowledge he had been laden with, and by having to lie here, constrained to keep it to himself. She pushed her tongue into his ear and took hold of his testicles. He really felt too tired but he knew what she was thinking. It was a week since they’d made love, and tomorrow night he would have left again. The longer their times apart were, the more important it became, as if they had something to prove. They didn’t speak of it as such, it just lay in the air, the oftener the better, and if too long a time went by he could feel her getting worried.
    There was so much he understood without her needing to spell it out. A glance was enough or a pause before she started tidying the living room or putting dirty washing in the machine, too energetically. But it could also be an ironic smile in the midst of the conversation and the partying faces if they were out amongstothers. He knew immediately what she was thinking. They often laughed about their almost telepathic talents when one of them said something the other had been thinking the moment before, whether it was a reaction to what was going on around them or something they had talked about several days earlier.
    If their mutual wordless understanding was what bound them together, in a way they had been destined for each other long before they themselves came to see it like that, under the blanket in the Alps. The irony that for so long had prevented them from being demonstrative and restrained their potential desire from erupting was simultaneously a secret

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