I was painting in the waking light when she stepped outside and joined me. This was the first time I had seen her on her own terrace. We often meet in her wood-dark kitchen where she tells me she doesn’t like cooking, while she cooks up these huge cauldrons for her grandkids. Or it’s in the shutter-drawn lounge. But never this; never in the natural light.

I couldn’t hear her steps as she moved past me to the terrace edge. She twirled her head for maximum contact with the sun. I could not believe how supple she looked. She turned and pushed buenos dias through her morning lips. I couldn’t tell if she was talking to me or the sun.

In my unsupple Spanish, I asked her if she liked the sun and she nodded, as though her neck might detach. I can’t forget what she did next.

She tipped her head back, as if to wet her neck in the sun’s bath. Her mouth popped open with the stretch, and a week’s indoor air escaped through her teeth. She looked lighter. Her form dynamic against the unpredictable slump of rooftops behind, I half expected us to break into a dance.

We listened to the silence and the zoom of parrot wings above. She spoke again – she told me about her chair, which is more like a bed, on which she lies out in the sun. She indicated its size with her hands and slid a slipper across the tiles where she sets it down.

If you’re low enough, she whispered, none of our neighbours can see you.

So this is her secret, this is her rooftop unravelling. This is where she comes to flower.

I wanted to ask her to stay but my tongue took a moment to find its verbs. By the time I had my question ready, she had already closed up, already descended the stairs.