The rest of the summer of 1983 in
As usual it all depended on the Englishman.
The ‘If we can marry I can have a work permit move to
Still he kept telling me how much he missed me and loved me. How much he longed for the day I moved to
As the nights drew in and
My professor was pressing me on a decision on my thesis, but I stalled.
In November the Englishman called, ‘I have Christmas and New Year off!’
‘Can I come over to see you?’
I spoke to my Father the next day. ‘Christmas? Here?’
‘Yes, I thought we’d…’
‘No, I’m not having any guests here. Christmas is a commercial invention anyway, for shops to sell more stuff.’
He’d been in an unusually bad mood for weeks. I guessed he’d had a fight with his girlfriend because he spent all his evenings and nights at home, monopolising the TV and complaining if I watched anything after he’d gone to bed.
I looked at him. I wanted to say, ‘What about me?’ or ‘Please can we have a family Christmas here, just like we did when I was little?’ but I didn’t. What if he sneered at me or worse, started to complain about my mother. Tell me some story or other how awful Christmas was with her. I wanted to hold onto my childhood memories.
I spoke to my mother instead. She was delighted and said it’d be a special Christmas with the Englishman there.
There was no snow in
My father was waiting in the kitchen when we arrived. In front of him was half-full bottle of Koskenkorva and an empty tumbler. He shook the Englishman’s hand and took another glass out of the drying cupboard. With a nod to the Englishman he filled the two glasses up to the brim and lifted one to his lips. The Englishman looked at me, winked and emptied his glass. He made only a slight sound as the strong vodka flowed down his throat.
‘We’re going out tonight,’ I lied and took the Englishman’s hand. The Englishman coughed.
‘Even more reason to start the evening off with style,’ my father said and poured another round. I looked at the clock on the wall. It was just past four o’clock in the afternoon.
‘It’s alright,’ the Englishman said and lifted the second glassful to his lips.
‘C’mon we have to go,’ I said.
My father looked up. ‘It’s alright, you don’t have to go. I’m off to
‘I won’t see you until next year,’ he said and took a wad of 100 mark notes out of his wallet. Have a few drinks on me, or even a meal.’ He laughed, hugged me and shook the Englishman’s hand.
When the door shut behind my father I shook my head. ‘He didn’t tell me he was away for Christmas. They must have made up and are going up to see the girlfriend’s family in
The Englishman came to sit next to me at the kitchen table. His eyes looked cloudy. He kissed me and said, ‘Can we go to bed now?’
We woke late the next morning, the 21st of December 1983.