She’s never been a morning person.
She’s fifty-seven, and a professor of Spanish.
She commutes to the University of Copenhagen three days a week and typically uses the train ride to read.
This morning she’s too sleepy to read the dissertation lying in her lap, and she reaches for the free newspaper on the seat opposite.
It’s from the day before.
On the back page there’s a small notice about a cat in New Zealand that disappeared from a summer cottage yet found its way home to its owners ninety miles away.
She’s not the sentimental type, especially when animals are involved, but there’s something about the cat that causes her to wipe at the corner of her eye.
She’d lived in Gentofte and in Frederiksberg her entire life when her husband suddenly, last summer, suggested they move.
He’d been reading the newspaper on the patio at their summer cottage, and she’d heard him talking to himself, but couldn’t make out what he was saying.
This was something he’d begun to do after the kids had moved away.
He’d become restless.
He talked, sometimes even conversed, with himself.
—Look, he said. We can buy a quadrangular farm with a house, three barns, thatched roofs, and fifteen acres of land for two thirds of what our apartment’s worth.
They went down to see it and found hollyhocks and granite boulders in the courtyard, windows painted robin’s egg blue, white lawn furniture, fruit trees, a view of rolling fields, and, even better, water.
They put their apartment up for sale and purchased the farm, and he decided to take an early retirement.
The property was officially theirs on September 1st.
The late summer was hot, and in the beginning they went swimming at a nearby beach whenever they needed a break.
They razed a wall, laid new flooring in the dining room, built a new bathroom on the first floor, and painted everything white.
There’s a view of the sea in every room, except for the broom closet and the entryway.
He suddenly looked at her in a way that made her head spin.
They made love in the middle of the day, and if she straddled him, she could see the sea.
Then fall came, and it was unlike any fall she’d known.
She was used to going to the art museum wearing a cotton coat and carrying an umbrella under her arm and then, afterwards, going to a café for a coffee and calvados.
Now it was clogged rain gutters, sixteen-foot wide water puddles on the dirt road, and the west wind blowing into their bedroom so that they, for the first time in their marriage, had to wear pajamas to bed.
Her husband resembled a little boy in his PJs.
He talked about insulating the house.
He talked about installing an extra wood stove.
They walked around wearing wool socks and sweaters and thermal vests, and she had trouble keeping warm when she sat reading.
When the frosts came, they began to sleep in thermal underwear.
They started to argue.
Now, when she has to get up early, he stays in bed.