Mann und Hund

“There was an interesting man and dog combination on the train this morning,” I say to Steph. “I’ll try and describe them, but it’s like trying to describe the afternoon light. It is hard to get at exactly what about it is special.”
”Go on,” she says, and I start to describe the dog.
“Medium sized, white and fluffy, with brown spots, overweight so a big solid body, a small head with a pointy snout, pinky nose, meek expression.” I gesticulate and make a dog out of the space in front of me on the U2 platform of Alexanderplatz.
She takes in all my information about the dog and I move onto the man.
“A bit goofy looking, funny ears, sticking out a bit, goggle eyes, in his 30s, using a rainbow coloured shoelace as a lead for the dog…”
”I can picture it,” she says, and I have no doubt she can. Our ability to visualise is one of our strongest points. We are magicians who can make things appear to each other. We can move around details like eligible, charming bachelors at a dance.
“You’ll see them again,” she says, with great conviction, as we walk up the stairs. There are people rushing all around us, on every side, people we’ll never see before and never see again.
“I don’t think so!” I say. Steph looks wise, like she’s handed me a key which I think is useless, but she knows better.

Later, I’ve read the map upside down again and we’re going the wrong way. Neither of us mind though, we’ve seen sparrows perched on the edge of a birdhouse, a 70s orange library, a girl on rollerblades holding the lead of a dog that’s running to greet another dog. The only bad thing is our faces are going numb from the cold. My jaw is aching and I notice my words are not coming out correctly because I can’t move my mouth properly. We go back to the train station and are swallowed in that world for a while, tunnels and stations. As we get off the train, I notice a busker further down the carriage. He is familiar. He is the man I had described earlier that morning.
“Steph! It’s the guy!” I’m so excited I can barely speak.
She looks calm about it. “I told you you’d see him again.”
“He must have dropped the dog off home,” I said, as I watch the train slide out of the station, taking him away.
“He’s exactly like you described him,” she said.

We go to art galleries, because it’s too cold to be on the street. There’s an icy wind that makes me moan every thirty seconds. It is cutting right through my coat, which I suddenly imagine is full of tiny tiny holes. We spend a long time looking at the details in 16th century Dutch still lives, tiny caterpillars and the gleam on the sides of coins, and then amble through the rest of the decades. I pause in front of a tall Gainsborough. There’s children there, in a garden on a pale blue and green day. Their white dog, in the corner of the painting, is the man’s dog from the train this morning.
“Steph…”
“I told you that you’d see them again.”

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