After the snow had melted, colour returned to the landscape. ‘Was the snow absorbing all the colours?’ he asked. ‘Oh, probably,’ came a familiar voice. The small, dark girl rode her bicycle once in a circle around him. ‘The snow or the sign or you.’ ‘Me?’ said the sailor. ‘How could I absorb the colours?’ ‘You’re a very colourless man,’ the small, dark girl said, pivoting on the back wheel of her bicycle, like a perverse jewellery box ballerina. ‘Thanks,’ said the sailor. The small, dark girl stopped her rubber pirouette. ‘Oh,’ she said. ‘He discovers his sarcasm at last. He is truly coming on.’ The sailor looked past her, trying to see the sign. ‘Don’t look for that thing,’ said the small, dark girl. ‘You’ll never see that thing again.’ The sailor looked behind him, trying to see where his opposite had gone. ‘Or him,’ the small, dark girl said. ‘You’ll never see him again, either.’ The sailor felt the surface of his well cap crack. He felt the grief bubble up. ‘At least you won’t drown,’ said the girl. ‘At least the grief won’t kill you.’ Something splintered in his chest. ‘I wouldn’t be so sure,’ he said.
‘There is a well of grief that is never ending,’ the sailor said, morosely. ‘I try to seal the top of it but it keeps cracking open, and I keep falling in.’ ‘You’ve had too much aquavit,’ said his opposite. He was still staring at the sign. ‘Aquavit will always make you morose.’ ‘I’ve had hardly any,’ the sailor replied, remembering the cold brightness of the liquid, how solid it felt, how clinical. ‘You’re not yourself, just remember that.’ His opposite flicked the words towards him, over his shoulder. The sailor thought. He looked down at the snow beneath his feet. It chilled him from the soles upwards. He looked up. ‘Who am I, then?’ he asked. His opposite was walking towards the sign. NOT TO DROP MORE THAN 5 CWT it silently shouted. The shape, the dimensions, the sense of it resembled a letter box, grimacing across the distance between him and it. ‘Who are you?’ he asked in the barest whisper. His opposite finally dropped the rose. The snow bloomed pink, as pink as the nose of a white cat. ‘I am nobody,’ his opposite replied. ‘I am just a sailor.’ He watched the snow melt to nothing.