She was an undiscovered treasure, an unclaimed jewel, her mother had always said, stroking her cheek, so who could have imagined she would, at the age of sixty-four, find herself in the magical city of Istanbul, a city of minarets and mosques, circled with a bright ring of water; the Bosphorus shimmered in her mind's eye with the bright sails of a thousand yachts. Istanbul: even the word conjured up in her a strange mixture of exhileration and terror, like life or a fairytale. Black swans on the surface of the sea, glittering fountains fashioned from lead crystal brought in the vaults of antique boats from Europe. It was a city full of grace and photographers.
Aunt Hope carried her key on a silver chain around her waist and could feel it press into her soft old flesh as she walked up and down the cobbled streets of tthe old harbour. Behind the wall the sea turns over in its bed and will not settle. A herring wind whips up and reinvents her, as herself, once a young woman, in love. She feels suddenly free in her cold clothes which are the strange uneven colours if tan old moon, or raw potato. Love. That was grace. That was beauty. That was where her real life should have been lived.
She tilts her chin to the ribboning wind and narrowly avoids a misshapen embrace with a street vendor selling soup from a large tureen he is wheeling in front of him, balanced in an old pram. They stand in the almost shock of missed collision, a static of confusion crackling between them. Until he smiles and a halo of longing lights up around him, and Aunt Hope remembers how hungry she has been.