In his sleep, he hears Melissa get up, leave the room, walk to the entrance door. She unlocks the door, and let four people in. He sees them as clearly as if he was standing above them, a fly on the ceiling (maybe he is): four women in grey uniforms, wearing the ugly symbol he so fears.
Melissa’s talking to them, in her soft schoolgirl voice. They listen, lips tight, hands on their hips. He observes their faces, the face of his lover. Sarah must be deep asleep and has not noticed anything. One of them looks up at the ceiling, as if she was aware of his presence there.
He closes his eyes. Sleep returns.
At dawn, as he listens to the chorus from the trees outside their window, he watches Sarah and Melissa, fast asleep in each other’s arms. He sighs, gets up, shuts the door carefully.
In the kitchen he prepares coffee as silently as he can, his usual routine. On the balcony he scrutinises the street, at present deserted. The sky is cloudy, there is a hint of autumn in the air. Then he notices the van, a grey thing without marking, with a small arial on top. He’s never seen it since they moved in, but perhaps it is some workman on a nearby project. Coffee aroma fills the living room. He turns on his laptop. First he checks his mail, expedites current business, letters from his publishers, letters from readers, notes from colleague writers he follows.
He now checks the news line: last night the city police arrested some suspected terrorists, not far from their place. There is no indication of who they are, nor whence they came from. There is a picture: a young woman officer walking next to another woman, a civilian, in handcuffs. The officer wears the grey uniform of the federal border guards.
Sarah comes in, wearing an ultra thin nightshirt. She smiles, goes to the kitchen, comes back with two cups of steaming coffee, sits next to him. They kiss. “I slept like a log,” she says, “Melissa is such a nice bed companion!” They laugh.
He stands up, walks to the balcony: the van has gone.