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  • The concert was, inevitably, Vivaldi.

    But it was Vivaldi played magnificently on period instruments, in a graceful stone church, in Venice. It was the last night of her holiday.

    She was, as always, alone.

    Just before the music started, a young man slipped into the empty seat beside her. She glanced at him, but they did not speak.

    Some combination of the warm, muggy, air and the perfect acoustics of the space made the music feel almost thick. She could feel it in her nose and in her stomach. It was rapturous.

    At the end of the concert, she met the eyes of the young man. They were both grinning spontaneously.

    - Wasn't it marvellous?

    - It was sublime.

    They left the church, and she started navigating the maze back to her apartment.

    As she slipped quietly through the night passageways, she was aware of the young man following a parallel route. They were travelling in the same direction, but on slightly different paths, crossing every now and then.

    Finally, as they entered the same courtyard via different streets for about the third time, she turned to him: "This is silly. We're obviously going in the same direction. Why don't we walk together?"

    So they did. They walked slowly through the cool and secret streets, talking lightly, sharing travellers' tales. He had arrived in Venice only that morning. She had been there for two weeks.

    - And I don't know how I can bear to leave.

    Inevitably, they reached a cross-path, where she was to go one way and he another.

    They parted.

    He was lost in the flickering shadows. In a few moments she could no longer hear his footsteps.
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