It is on white nights like these, when the snow outside is pushing at the shutters, and the windows are licked with frost, that Marika takes down the book. She turns the pages and she disappears, into all the sun-filled days.
There’s Erzsi in the early mornings, when soft light kissed away the dew and tempted them all outside, with blushed cheeks. There she is in the late afternoons, when a ruder heat descended, flattening them, sending them sprawling—on the yellow lawn, in the forest pool, beneath the canopy of acacia trees. There she is in the slow-ebbing evenings, when the spent sun dipped toward the faded hills, and they lounged on the terrace, basking in the last of the glow.
Marika looks at the pictures, and, fleetingly, she feels them looking back.
Her relationship with the book is curious. She made it herself, with searching fingers and ink-smudging tears, with paint and glue and snippets and fragments. She took photographs when no one knew photographs were being taken, so the pictures within its pages appear like whispered secrets. The cloth cover is painted with f lowers, swirls and strokes of bright white, blooms that haven’t faded. Unlike the real f lowers, the ones outside that twine the veranda, and wither and die as night falls. She remembers mixing the colors, the crick in her neck as she bent awkwardly over her square canvas, how she’d heard Zoltán’s gentle laugh as he spotted her tongue peeping from her lips in concentration. The lettering was an afterthought, and a