She says: “If you really loved me, you’d… make a museum in my honour and tour Russia in the autumn!”
He’s going to start collecting exhibits tonight. He’s going to search the house, then the internet, then he’s going to visit her parents’ house in the middle of the night wearing gloves and a balaclava and take her childhood toys and old schoolbooks and photographs. He’s going to hire a van and drive across Europe and when he reaches the Russian border the leaves will be falling from the trees. In small town museums he will set up the exhibition and watch the crowds pour in. He will sit at the admissions desk and take notes on the visitors’ shoes and use them to measure the diversity of her appeal.
She’ll phone up and say: “Wow. Just wow. I’ll be on the next flight to Moscow.”
After she hangs up he will spend hours going over the conversation in his head. When he realises, finally realises, that she does not sound happy he will get back in the van and drive away from that place as fast as four wheels will carry him. He’ll leave the admissions desk and the exhibition and all the visitors and their shoes and smalltown Russia behind. There will be photographs of her left on the wall. Internet search histories bound in leather books and set out on tables. Old school uniforms displayed on mannequins. Artificially-distressed chocolate in the gift shop.
She’ll phone from Moscow, he’ll be in Berlin. “If you really loved me…”