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REYKJAVÍK: SPRING 2008
It wasn’t far off midnight, but it was still light. The days were growing longer and longer. It was the time of year when each new day, brighter than the day before, brought with it the hope of something better, and things were looking bright for Ari Thór Arason. His girlfriend, Kristín, had finally moved into his little flat on Öldugata, although this wasn’t much more than a formality. She had been staying there most nights anyway, except those just before an exam, when she liked to read in the peace and quiet of her parents’ house, often far into the night.
Kristín came into the bedroom from the shower, a towel around her waist.
‘God, I’m tired. Sometimes I wonder why I went for medicine.’
Ari Thór looked round from the little desk in the bedroom.
‘You’ll be a fantastic doctor.’
She lay on the bed, stretching out on top of the duvet, her blonde hair spread like a halo on the white of the bedclothes.
Like an angel, Ari Thór thought, admiring her as she stretched out her arms and then ran them gently down her torso.
Like a snow angel.
‘Thanks, my love. And you’ll be a brilliant cop,’ she said. ‘But I still think you should have finished your theology degree,’ she couldn’t help adding.
He knew that well enough and didn’t need to hear it from her. First it had been philosophy, until he had given up on it, and then theology. He had packed that in as well, and found himself enrolling in the police college. Roots were something he had never been able to put down properly, always seeking something that suited his temperament, something with a little excitement to it. He reckoned he had probably applied for theology as a challenge to some god he was convinced didn’t exist; some god who had snatched away any chance he had of growing up normally when he was thirteen, when his mother died and his father had disappeared without a trace. It wasn’t until he had met Kristín and – only two years earlier – been able to puzzle out the mystery of his father’s disappearance that Ari Thór began to achieve a little peace of mind. This was when the idea of the police college had first crossed his mind, with the expectation that he’d make a better cop than a clergyman. The police college had left him in fine physical shape, and the weight-lifting, running and swimming had made him broader across the shoulders than he had ever been before. He had certainly never been this fit when he was poring over theology texts night and day.
‘Yeah, I know,’ he replied, a little stung. ‘I haven’t forgotten the theology. I’m just taking a break from it.’
‘You ought to make an effort and finish it, while it’s still fresh in your mind. It’s so hard to start again if you leave it too long,’ she said, and Ari Thór knew she wasn’t speaking from experience. She had always finished everything she set out to do, flying through one exam after another. Nothing seemed capable of stopping her and she had just finished the fifth of the six years of her medical degree. He wasn’t envious – just proud. Sooner or later they would need to move abroad so that she could specialise, something that had never been discussed, but of which he was all too keenly aware.
She put a pillow behind her head and looked at him. ‘Isn’t it awkward having the desk in the bedroom? And isn’t this flat way too small?’
‘Small? No, I love it. I’d hate to move out of the centre of town.’
She lay back, her head sinking into the pillow. ‘Anyway, there’s no hurry.’
‘There’s plenty of space for the two of us.’ Ari Thór stood up. ‘We’ll just have to be cosy.’
He removed the towel and lay carefully on top of her, kissing her long and deep. She returned the kiss, wrapped her arms around his shoulders and pulled him close.
Copyright © 2010 by Ragnar Jónasson
Translation copyright © 2015 by Quentin Bates
Map copyright © 2015 by Ólafur Valsson