My Viking stood at six-foot-eight, barrel-chested and ginger haired. His breath always tasted of dark rich beer and his moustache tickled my lips. Sometimes when I was doing the crossword or watching people through my window he would come up behind me, sling me up across his shoulders and carry me off as his booty. Then he would ravage me in the bedroom.

My mother said he would hurt me. You don’t understand his type she said to me. Maybe he has passion, but he cannot know tenderness or love. But I had seen my Viking, hands as large as hams, hold a baby. Though the mother seized the child in fear that the Viking would smother it, I know it was tenderness glowing in his eyes. Later, when he stepped out of his monthly bath the water droplets shone in his beard and dripped off the horns of his helmet. I wrapped him in my pink bath towel, which barely fit around his waist, and he smiled at me, his eyes crinkling, his yellowing teeth barred. I swear that there was love there too.

He will leave you my mother said.

But I would not believe her.

One afternoon late in the summer, I heard a horn call bellowing out from the harbor. I knew that I would not see my Viking again. I wrapped myself in the pelt cape he had made me from the squirrels in the park. I sat by the window and I watched his tall-masted ship billow its sails and drift gently out of the harbor. I wept and I wondered if somewhere, he wept too, tears catching in his matted ginger beard and pooling on the aged Norman pine of the deck.