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For their first date, he took her to see an iceberg. Well, bits of one. Mo said the artist had them shipped over from Greenland in freezer containers. Something about climate change.
He’d only had two pictures on his profile. One in a suit (smile) and one up some mountain (eye-roll). Halima had flicked back and forth, from tuxedo to snow, silk tie to shades, twirling them like a penny. Didn’t think he’d swipe back.
She didn’t mind the walk. They met after work and went via Regent Street and the Christmas angels winked overhead. Mo gave her a box of dark chocolates and said she looked nice. She lobbed the word back, but it didn’t do him justice. Someone who’d done Veganuary and was still going strong. Someone who’d done the Three Peaks challenge and was doing the marathon next year.
But when they reached the Bloomberg building, Halima’s hands and feet were numb. Then they saw the blocks and he beamed. Taller than her and as wide as cars, each one had a different complexion, from foam to blue-grey. As translucent as skin.
He placed his palm on one, so she took off her gloves and did the same. Then she wondered if he minded the leather and stuffed them in her pockets. It wasn’t as cold as she’d thought it would feel. It was smooth and beautiful, like the way death is in films.
Mo gazed at each one while she gazed at him, ignored by the bankers and tourists, who were marching away or on their phones. One sloped like a sled and three girls sat on it, taking selfies. Halima looked at their jeans and Uggs, regretting her dress and pumps. Mo had had the right idea, with his black peacoat and Harry Potter-y scarf. She thought about putting her arm through his, to see if she’d feel his blood through their sleeves.
He put his ear against one. “Listen,” he said.
“Er…” Her hijab was cotton and she didn’t want a wet patch. Or, worse, for it to stick, then fray and pull against her pins. But she copied him because she was already shivering. At first she heard nothing except her own foolishness. Then a faint crackling and popping, like cereal.
She straightened up. “So, how’d you hear about this?”
“It was in the news, there are more outside Tate Modern. Thought it would be a cool thing to do.”
The side of his face was as slick and pale as paper. She wondered what else he thought was cool. And why they hadn’t just met at the café. And if she could bear to spend another New Year’s Eve alone.
“They’ll only be here for about another week,” he said. “Less, if it’s warmer.”
“Oh,” she said, and wondered if she’d still know him by then.