We ran back, he first and I following him, between the beds and downstairs, and we picked up an armful of wood from the pile by the wall and the knife for whittling and ran up again, we couldn’t be quick enough. He knelt down in front of the stove, and it wasn’t long before he had done the trick again. Outside the window it was night now, and the wind blew vaporous white milk against the panes, milk over the forest and the fjord, but in here there were just the two of us and the stoves and the sound of wood burning behind the black iron and sending waves of heat out into the rooms and into the walls and timbers that sucked it in. I smelt the scent of wood growing warm, and it made me as white in my head as the whirling night outside, and hungry. We stood in the kitchen with our coats on eating the contents of two tins with one spoon we took it in turns to use, and we laughed, I didn’t even notice what I was eating. Soon it was warm enough for us to take off some clothes, his overcoat and my coat, and while he hung his on a hook, I let mine fall to the floor. I took off the sweater I wore underneath and dropped that on the floor too, I unbuttoned my blouse and still felt the cold against my neck. But the heat rose to the ceiling and up to the first floor and there was another stove there. Then I calmly walked across the room and upstairs with his eyes on my back, and at first he stood still, and then he followed, and when he got to the top my blouse was off and my stockings on the floor. I slowly turned round and stood there, me inside my skin, while he was fully clothed, and I cleared my head of every thought I had ever had and let them sink out into my skin till it was painfully taut and shinning all over my body, and he saw it and did not know what it was he saw. I put my arms round my back and unfastened my bra and slid the straps over my shoulders, and I thought he might be going to weep, but his voice sounded hoarse as he whispered:
“You’re lovely,” and I answered “Yes”, and didn’t know if that was true. But it did not matter, for I knew what I wanted and what to say, and his hands were as I’d thought they would be, his skins as soft and his body as hard, and it was so warm around us, and the whole time I smelt the dampness of the bedclothes like the ones at Vrangbæk, and then I just shut my eyes and floated away.