She’d come up behind me in the foyer of Tate Britain and tapped me on the shoulder. ‘Oh, sorry, I thought you were someone else,’ she said in a mild Irish accent as I turned around. A couple of brass rings hung from the lobe of her right ear, another ring pierced her lip. She wore a short black skirt that finished well above her knees; showing off her long, thin legs, and a simple black leather polo-neck top. Her hair was black, down to her shoulders, flicked-up slightly at the ends. She had a thin, fine-featured face: unusual, distinctive, pretty – almost elfish.
‘I’m not complaining. It’s not everyday a pretty girl taps me on the shoulder.’
Her expression changed. She looked annoyed. ‘Look, please don’t patronise me. I’m due to meet a guy who has the same build and hair colour as you and wears jeans and a shirt like you, but he hasn’t turned up. I’m sorry I disturbed you.’ She turned to walk away.
‘My date hasn’t turned up either,’ I said, facing her back, wondering why she’d stopped and hadn’t moved on.
She turned. A smile lit up her face. She had striking steely grey eyes. ‘He wasn’t a date, like a lover. Just a friend, but he should have been here fifteen minutes ago.’ She looked into my eyes. ‘And you. Are you meeting an illicit lover?’
I laughed. ‘Hardly. My sister. But she’s just texted me and said not to wait for her. She’s been held up.’
She narrowed her eyes. ‘Were you going to see the Lucian Freud exhibition?’
‘Yes, were you?’
‘We’d wanted to, but I couldn’t get tickets, so it’s a good thing my friend hasn’t turned up. We wouldn’t have been able to get in.’
I shrugged and smiled. ‘If I said you could come in with me on my now spare ticket, I guess you’d call that patronising as well.’
She laughed. ‘Of course, but if you’re offering, I’ll accept.’
‘When?’ I asked, after she’d told me the next morning she’d had a heart transplant after contracting rheumatic fever.
‘June 15th last. Why? You look concerned.’
‘Where?’ I felt faint and shaky.’
My hands shook. I shivered.