M is away, so, although I promised myself not to do so, I stayed up too late last night and woke up feeling exhausted and cross with myself. I’ll get over it. I caught an old programme about Canaletto, one of my favourite painters, who features heavily in Tettig’s Jewels, and revelled in 50 minutes of Venetian scenery. The thought I had when watching it was that I’d love living in Venice, but in solitude, whilst I’d love living in Agios Nikolaos in company. It put this sudden love affair with Crete in context, and explained to me better why I’d prefer AN to Venice. I suppose if I win the Lottery, I’ll buy houses in both places (ha!). Actually, in reality, to own less would be a better idea, even now.
Spurious thoughts on a grey morning. I’d rather still be asleep.
So, Love Island is over for another year. The winners were fairly predictable for a few weeks. Yes, I know it’s a ridiculous programme, with more faults than it should have, but to me it’s like an obscure psychological experiment. And one which, deservedly, tends to show up men for the shallow and manipulative creatures they are (and as being imbued with an exceptionalism that they, like the English, have no right to carry with them).
Dredging these words out from somewhere. With great difficulty. My mind is disorganised and sluggish this morning. And I’m getting too obsessed with the Greek app for all the wrong reasons – league tables, outdoing others etc rather than actually focusing on the language; is competitiveness hard-wired into men, no matter how beta male some of us try to be?
Onwards. Focus. Get through the hours.
AGGIE’S ART OF HAPPINESS – CHAPTER 167
Aggie doesn’t need a torch. For her eyes, it’s as light as day inside the house. She picks her way through the small hallway, her sense of hearing on high alert. She doesn’t like this, not at all. Into the living room, through the dining room, into the kitchen, where the poison came from those short few days ago before Katharina knew who she was. Nothing seems disturbed, everything just as it was when they left. The back door is locked. Even stranger. She retraces her steps, hears nothing to suggest someone else might be in the house. She creeps up the dark stairs, each step bright in front of her adjusted eyes. The pictures on the wall still hanging straight. Unknown territory now she’s upstairs. Off to the left, the front bedroom. She stands in its cavernous embrace. Bed made. Everything tidy. The room of an ascetic, everything in its place, and a place for everything, and not many things. Closed doors. And nothing out of place. She shakes her head, but can’t shake the feeling of dread that’s crept up on her. One foot in front of the other. Quietly. Silently.
The next room. Almost as big as the front bedroom. A window looking out over the back garden. Two desks, two computers. No mess. Shelves crammed with books. Alphabetical order. Even the incidental imprints itself on her eyes, feeds into her memory, stays there. Did someone else put all those other ones there? She snorts silently. Stop those random thoughts. She pushes away at the vision, the story she told Lilibet in the car, doesn’t want it now, not that puzzle when she’s got another puzzle to solve. Later. She touches the computers. They’re cold. Haven’t been on for days. She nods. Why the hell was the door unlocked? It’s not something as simple as forgetting to lock it when they left. She’d have noticed, realised, remembered, made sure. She stops, sniffs, raises an eyebrow. Perfume or aftershave? Follows the scent now.
Down the corridor. Bathroom door wide open. The scent isn’t from in there. A closed door at the end of the passage. She tiptoes up to it, listens out for any sound. Nothing. Nothing at all. The scent stronger here. She tightens the grip on her blade, turns the door knob with her left hand, opens the door slowly, painfully slowly for her natural impatience. The overpowering stench of man now. The room is a mess, broad streaks of something or another on the walls, books ripped from shelves. Marit’s room. Window open. She knows now what she’ll find when she turns to the bed behind the open door. Surprised the scent has stayed and not been overtaken by the meaty smell of decay. But it’s cold with the window open, and less than two days have passed, although she feels she’s lost track of time. So she turns, her knife still raised in an attacking stance, just to the right of her face, just out of her line of vision. And in her line of vision – white bed linen covered in what can only be blood, and in the middle of all that, what can only be what’s left of another of Valentine’s creatures, disintegrated, destroyed, annihilated, because he can’t have found anything of value to his master. She’s about to leave when something catches her eye, a stray cable connected to an electric socket, the round metal end of it staring at her. And no laptop to go with it. She swears, backs away, out of the room, pulls the door closed, wipes the handle with her sleeve, makes her way back downstairs, out of the front door, repeats the wiping, closes the door, gets back in the car.
‘And?’ Katharina says.
‘You don’t want to know.’