Back at the hotel, we collected our bags from the lockers, checked in, and headed up to our room. It was small and functional, with a double bed, desk, TV and ensuite bathroom. A window looked out on the street below, lined with shops, pubs, and more hotels.
‘This bed’s comfortable,’ said Armin, falling onto it and closing his eyes.
‘You’re not going to sleep, are you?’
‘No.’ He opened his eyes. ‘Well, maybe just for a few minutes. We don’t have to be at Trinity College for another two hours.’
I looked down at him. ‘I can think of something else we can do during those two hours.’
I jumped on the bed and straddled him, planting my lips on his and running my fingers through his hair. I loved his thick, dark hair. In fact, I loved all of him. His puppy dog brown eyes, his strong nose, his cute smile, his beautiful skin, and his slim, smooth physique. When we were alone together, I just couldn’t keep my hands off him. He was a great kisser, and he was great at other things too. We both had high sex drives, and often did it at least two or three times a day.
Being with Armin was so much fun, and our relationship was changing my perspective on life. After being depressed for a long time, I was now beginning to realise that life was for living and for having maximum enjoyment. I felt like a weight had been lifted from my anxious mind.
After making love, we both fell asleep. At some point, I sleepily reached for my phone to check the time, and was pulled back to full alertness when I read the numbers on the screen.
‘Fuck, wake up! We’ve got to be there in half an hour!’ I shook him, and he groaned and rolled away from me.
‘Relax, it’s a short walk from here,’ he mumbled.
He was right. It would only take about ten minutes on foot. I relaxed a little, realising I had time for a quick shower. Twenty minutes later we were both ready and refreshed, leaving the hotel and walking quickly to the nearest bridge that would take us back across the Liffey.
‘Hurry up!’ I said, striding ahead, almost running.
He was walking quickly, but not quickly enough. I grabbed his hand and pulled him along. Our fingers interlocked and he was laughing, and we ran across one of the bridges and over the water and into the south side of the city.
We were still holding hands as we approached the grey façade of Trinity College, and we ran through an archway and into a wide and sprawling courtyard. People were sat on the grass and under trees, talking with friends or relaxing in solitude. I glanced around at the surrounding buildings, and saw a sign for the Book of Kells.
We produced our tickets and entered the exhibition, where written displays described the history of the Book of Kells. It was interesting to read, although I remembered a lot of it from my days as a student. Armin seemed genuinely fascinated too, and I had to wait for him as he read all of the information. It described the books creation on the island of Iona, and how it had been vulnerable to destruction during Viking raids in the ninth century. It went on to explain that the book was transported to Ireland by boat for safekeeping, and that it was then stolen and buried in the eleventh century, before being found and placed in Dublin Castle. Finally, it was donated to Trinity College.
‘I love this,’ whispered Armin. ‘It says there are some pages missing, though. At the beginning and end of the book.’
I nodded. ‘It’s remarkable the rest of the book has survived for this long. I can’t wait to actually see it!’
And suddenly there it was, behind glass, laid open with two of its pages facing upwards. Catching my breath, I leaned closer, marvelling at the calligraphic writing, the ornate lettering, the colourful inscriptions. It was stunning, and only centimetres away from me, this manuscript I had studied at university back in Italy. I peered closer, gently placing the tips of my fingers on the glass, awed by this millennia old treasure.
‘I wish I could study it,’ I whispered to Armin. ‘I want to turn its pages and learn everything there is to know about its contents and history. It’s breath-taking.’
I don’t know how long I stood there, gazing with wonder at this ancient text, but eventually Armin walked on, and as more people began to crowd closer to get a better look, I reluctantly walked on too.
I was blown away by what I had seen, and couldn’t speak. I followed Armin through a doorway, and we were in the Long Room. A vast library with towering bookshelves soaring upwards all around us. I was astounded once more as we meandered slowly across the wooden floor, our footsteps echoing a little as we passed the shelves upon shelves of books on either side of us, both craning our necks to look upwards. We lingered a while, attempting to take it all in, then eventually we were at the other end of the Long Room, hesitantly exiting as we looked over our shoulders for a final glimpse.
‘I want to work here,’ I said to Armin, as we descended a staircase and found ourselves in a gift shop.
‘I’m gonna buy you something,’ he said.
I looked around, seeing books, mugs, keyrings and other merchandise. How sweet of him to offer to buy me something. I was touched, and felt quite emotional. It might seem silly, but small gestures of kindness from Armin really meant a lot to me.
‘Thank you, but you don’t have to buy me anything.’
‘I know I don’t have to,’ he said. ‘I want to. What do you want? Pick something.’
‘I don’t know. I like pens. What about a pen?’
‘Oh, look,’ he said, pointing. ‘They’ve got t-shirts. Do you want a Book of Kells t-shirt?’
’Oh my God! I’d love a Book of Kells t-shirt!′
I realised I was almost shouting, but I didn’t care. I was so fucking happy!