Glass Enclave
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She dreamt that it rained and she could not go out to meet him as planned. She could not walk through the hostile water, risk blurring the ink on the pages he had asked her to translate. And the anxiety that she was keeping him waiting pervaded the dream, gave it an urgency that was astringent to grief. She was afraid of rain, afraid of the fog and the snow which came to this country, afraid of the wind even. At such times she would stay indoors and wait, watching from her window all the people doing what she couldn't do. Children walking to school through the swirling leaves, the elderly smashing ice on the pavement with their walking sticks. They were superhuman, giants who would not let the elements stand in their way. Last year when the city had been dark with fog, she hid indoors four days, eating the last packet of pasta in the cupboard, drinking tea no longer with milk. On the fifth day when the fog lifted she went out famished, rummaging the shops for food, dizzy with the effort.

But Sammar's dream was wrong. It wasn't raining when she woke that morning, a grey October sky, Scottish grey with mist from the North Sea. And she did go out to meet Rae Isles as planned, clutching her blue folder with the translation of Al-Nidaa's manifesto.

The door to the Winter Gardens (an extended greenhouse in the city's main park), was covered with signs. Sorry, no prams or pushchairs allowed, sorry, no dogs allowed, opening hours 9.30 till dusk. In this country everything was labelled, everything had a name. She had got used to the explicitness, all the signs and polite rules. It was 9.30 now and when they went inside there was only a gardener pushing a wheel-barrow along the wet cracked slabs that separated the plants. Tropical plants cramped in the damp warmth and orange fish in running water. Whistling birds flying indoors, the grey sky irrelevant above the glass ceiling.


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