Copenhagen, July 1987
from the novel When The Night Comes (Hachette Australia, 2014)
I sit in a bar, a nice place with candlelight and dark wood and people. The night is coming down outside. Feet walk fast above where I sit, the streetlight there – the shopping bags, dinner, home.
Heart Of Gold comes on the stereo.
A group of young men in the corner sing along, happy drunk. It is their song. I drink my beer, my heart beats fast. The harmonica plays, the guitar keeps time, keeps strumming, then the chorus starts up again.
When I close my eyes, I can hear Soren sing along too. Loud, out of tune, heartfelt.
I smoke a cigarette. I get another beer. The song changes. The night moves. People join me, people continue on their way. But it sticks to me, that song. Neil Young. It comes through in my dreams and I wake humming it, wishing I had never heard it.
It stays with me for the four days we are in Copenhagen. It goes round and round while I walk. Waiting to leave. Copenhagen, not Aalborg.
It’s beautiful here, the streets, and when you look up you can see all the turrets and towers and spires – gold and green dragons up high. The past.
Like a dream, I walk the streets. I walk the harbour. I walk in big circles around this city.
‘The meat-packing district,’ he said. ‘It will be the new place.’
His town. His dream. Now, just me.
My footsteps echo on these old streets. The cobblestones slicked with rain, but I don’t mind. I keep on walking, to know that I am here, that I exist.
Nella Dan is waiting.
Nella Dan photo sourced from the Australian Antarctic Division.