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Bastion Club German Language Series , 7. But my record score is higher than his. Do you have a fixed writing routine?
It happens all by itself. The story you were originally thinking of submitting for the Book Week? But it was too complicated a narrative for that? No, not exactly. Not about my literature, but it is a book with a writer as the main character. Probably not. What time do you start writing, usually? I start around eleven and I keep going until around five. Then I do the things I need to do: shopping, administration, crapping out tax returns. Does it make any difference where you write?
It has to be quiet, and I have to be alone. Solitude and quiet are not hard to find in Sweden. In view of my lifestyle, that is going to cost me a novel or two. I sometimes interrupt my writing to play the piano or the accordion, but I never put on music. I love to smuggle that into language.
Or for an audiobook. Musicality in literature is underrated, you know. Among my colleagues, I rarely see much attention paid to the beautiful music that is the Dutch language. Hats off, nice plot. I think De Laatkomer is my only true novel so far. You could say the same thing about what you wrote for the Book Week. When someone is standing in the room, you can safely assume that they came into that room too.
Are you a different writer than you were ten years ago? I write fewer versions. What I finally send to my editor is, except for a few details, what ends up in bookshops. If it has my name on it, it has to be mine. He gets the whole pile on his desk, in one go. You often say that you see no unifying line running through your work, that you just muddle on. Is that sincere, or is it a coy way to feign ignorance? Those books grow organically.
All she had to do then was write it. Of course there are recurrent themes in my work, but they are more like loose threads than anything that binds it all together. Like the dog, that comes back now on the covers of all your books in reprint? The designer mentioned it to me.
Funerals and birthdays also come back in almost all your books. I guess people do a lot of dying in my books. And birthdays, of course, are maybe even more dismal than funerals. That appeals to me. Good thing too. Maybe that specificity is the real universal element: there are dogs, birthdays and funerals wherever you go. Diet Cola Pepsi Light Brie A wedge met zongedroogde of Brie with sun-dried tomaat en tomato een and a beetje sprinkle dille of dill op een on an muizenval extra large mousetrap Pizza to catch a rat Diner Pizza bij Dorsia Dinner at Dorsia.
Stimulants Gucci pill box Five vials of crack swallowed whole Xanax every half hour Prostitute. Looking at those photos now, you see a square tuxedo with a man stuffed into it. A bulging face, no neck to speak of, tiny eyes behind enormous glasses, classic wavy hair.
He too felt his knees quiver and his heart pound when faced with the true power of the White House. Yes, I will. We recognised him from some thirty metres, maybe more. He was walking towards us from the Louvre. A small, elderly man with a walking stick, flanked by three much younger men who were obviously security.
On our right, the Seine. Left, the Jardin des Tuileries, the Orangerie, the rue de Rivoli with its palatial hotels and Armani stores. We were surrounded by echoes of the past. If you had two hours to kill in Paris, this was the place to go and that was why we were here — one and a half hours before we were due to report at the Gare du Nord — but the tourists rarely left the main route through the former palace gardens, so you could still stroll peacefully along paths of fine gravel of the kind that is undoubtedly very good for playing boules.
Look, could it possibly, surely not, is that, could that really be, we said to each other, but there was no doubt in our minds. He was walking slowly and we too slowed our pace. Ten metres, six metres, three metres and then, to my surprise, my brother stepped over to him. He seemed to be amused. Their faces were next to each other on the screen of my iPhone. His skin was leathery and crumpled and angular, like an old leather travelling bag. Gravity had taken hold of his eyelids and not let go; they were watery and drooping. The same for his lower lip.
Once so strong, his face had collapsed. It was past it, but his eyes were clear and icy blue and burning through the lenses of the square glasses that rested on his potato nose like twin television sets. In that moment I thought about all the things you could know about him.
We watched two episodes of Brideshead Revisited on his faux Versace sofa. Methods: Seventy-nine patients diagnosed with major depressive disorder participated in this study, of whom 55 used ESM for 6 weeks 3 days a week, 10 times a day. Tauris, No reasons are indicated, no doubt, because economics is not a positive science. Evidently, the co-optation of such images into histories that have no room for Armenians is not necessarily ideologically driven in the way that, for example, the systematic removal of Armenian place names was, yet it similarly forms part of the century-old process of wiping away the traces of Ottoman Armenian existence. Under it a picture of a goat. That was her first commandment: Let it grow, to mask that smooth, priest-like face of yours.
The peace negotiations had been held here in Paris. He was history personified — war and peace. This old man supported fascist regimes in. Latin America, probably had Salvador Allende murdered, delayed informing the president about the Yom Kippur war until it was too late for mediation, deliberately left thousands to starve to death in Bangladesh.
And now he was here. Click, said my camera. They left the gardens a little further along, heading out to the road where a car was undoubtedly waiting. Summer revealed itself, a promise fulfilled. There were people who spent their first hour on the bus totally preoccupied with the lights.
There were men and there were only men who immediately grabbed fat historical works and started to read, or pored endlessly over maps, but most of the passengers immediately leant forward against the back of the seat in front of them, instant male bonding. There were conversations about what we could expect, planned events, everything that had been announced on the various web forums of the official Waterloo Day, beginning tomorrow. Some of them had brought their sons with them, timid boys who still spent Saturday nights at home in front of the TV.
Toys that are not toys, but meant for reliving history. These men put hundreds of hours and thousands of euros into it. In short, men I am jealous of in a very fundamental sense, because every man should have a room of his own where he can shuck off work and family, and play and be happy in a way that is usually reserved for boys alone.
Bonjour, soldats heureux. Of course, he continued in his irresistible camembert English, afterwards we would all be hung as traitors. Holding onto the luggage rack with one hand, he raised a microphone to his mouth with the other. While speaking he looked down shyly at his shoes, which had a certain charm given that he must have been at least sixty and had such striking, rugged features that he could have been a colonel in the Foreign Legion. Aff curz, afzerwarts, ol of you shell be hang-ed as tray-tors.
Nobody on the bus hesitated before plunging into his booklet, which meant an immediate end to the moment of easy-going solidarity; the excursion had become an object of study again. Next year it would be a real celebration. The French army had already promised several cavalry regiments, the president would be coming, maybe even the British queen, the Dutch king in any case.
Stands to accommodate tens of thousands of visitors would be erected. All over Europe. So we studied the costume store, the campgrounds, the scheduled outdoor readings, the tours From Rotterdam. As if they only interred him there yesterday. I decided that I liked Raymond the way you can like a taxi driver — because you have nothing to do with him but are still putting your life in his hands.
He had a large, bald head and cheeks like saddlebags, but a narrow, hard and pointy nose, pure cartilage — you could imagine sticking a nose like that. Always wanted to give it a go. No good. His wife and two sons had already driven there with the collapsible caravan. Out came the iPhone. Photos of monuments, selfies of him in front of monuments, selfies of him next to a blue plaque on the ground. We were here because we had something in common, something in the distant past, out of reach.
The more we talked about it, the more realistic it became, the less we felt we were on our way to do something embarrassing. I turned back to the window, the motorway and the green hills beyond. We were advancing up the hill in three lines of fifty men, towards the British artillery. Thirty metres to one side another three lines were advancing, next to them another three. We were the first wave. In complete accordance with the historical course of events, our charge would be followed by a much larger frontal assault with cavalry on the flanks — another two thousand French devotees were already in position.
That morning we had collected our uniforms from a big barn. They came in two sizes: too big and too small. MTV Raps video. The boots flapped with each step. You felt every pinecone, every branch through the soles. Nobody spoke. Somewhere someone was playing a drum, a two-handed ruffle that seemed to be working very slowly towards a climax, the kind of sound that makes you march taller and stare ahead.
We focussed on the men two hundred metres in front of us. I tried not to think about them in too much detail. They too were wearing. The stiff, cheap material chafed against my skin. The midday sun was burning our necks. The sky was as clear as blue ice and made the grass look greener than it already was. I had got up very early that morning. The taste of the rubber of my airbed was in my mouth, my brother was snoring quietly and rhythmically. His greying, wiry hair was stuck to his forehead, his mouth was so far open I could see the ridges in the roof of his mouth.
Quietly I unzipped the tent flap and stepped out over the guy ropes of the surrounding dome tents. I could hear others snoring too, a reticent sun was just poking its head over the horizon, there were tents and caravans almost as far as the eye could see. I relished the quiet. My piss was rustling on the dry pine needles with a sound like crackling ice when suddenly I was startled by a horseman. A man in a French cavalry uniform on a grey horse, with a sabre and all, a cigarette in his mouth and a coffee in one hand. James Salter wrote that the irresistible thing about being a fighter pilot was that everything revolved around you — the aircraft carrier put out to sea for you, the mechanics on board, the technicians, the radio operators, the cooks, the cleaners, they were all there so you could take off.
Just as I tried not to think about the British soldiers, I tried not to look at the spectators, who were a hundred and fifty metres away behind orange tape with their zooms and binoculars. I was able to concentrate exceptionally well on the here and now, existence, my uniform, the way we were marching, the tension in my back, which I was holding so much straighter than usual. Gradually feeling myself dissolve into a dream. We were now marching downhill, the valley between us and the Brits was more difficult because you had to hold back to avoid going too fast and breaking formation.
This was the moment the British opened fire. A cannon directly in front of me fired in my direction, as if someone was sneezing in my face, the sound already whooshing past before the white plume had emerged from the barrel. The crazy thing was that all the time I had a sense of having experienced this before. I had raised my hand and only now did I understand why. Men rushed over the grass, holding their jolting muskets with both hands as if they were oars they were using to propel themselves forward.
We could see the Brits taking aim, our drums sounded much louder now, our rented boots were in even more danger of falling off, a British officer raised his sword, we reached fifty metres, our neat lines broke up, we reached forty-five metres and saw the sword coming down, the first loud bangs sounded, we saw the flashes of fire and plumes of smoke rising from the British muskets — and I let myself fall forwards at full tilt. I held my musket in front of my chest with both hands, my face hit the grass, my hat went flying, I tasted earth.
I had offered to die because it felt like it was supposed to feel, as if I was making a sacrifice. The soldiers in the lines behind stepped over me without a backward glance and again I felt a tingling through my whole body, it was something psychosomatic. I was lying there deliciously inert in the soft grass, I felt the pull of gravity, I felt the world turning and I felt hopelessly, infinitely alone.
It was a pleasant, unmelancholy kind of loneliness, the sense of being in a crowd without being absorbed by it, and feeling more individual as a result. The further away from me the French soldiers ran, the happier I became. It was really like that: I could feel myself becoming truly happy, as if someone had injected me with a serum, I felt it passing through my body. France — this country had given me so much.
It had been so long since I had experienced this. It was summer, it was France, the setting for the happiest weeks of my life. So uncomplicated. All those summer holidays. From our regular campground to the nearest village was a five- or six-kilometre hike, a winding road up a mountain. There was almost no traffic, lavender grew in the verges, invisible crickets made their scratchy sound, you passed a small farm where you could buy jars of jam. The farmer was nowhere in sight, you had to leave a few francs, there was faith in human honesty. Almost every day I walked to the village in the blazing sun, mostly with a towel over my shoulders to keep them from burning.
I never had any purpose. I walked and wanted to do it by myself. I never took a walkman with me. In the invariably sleepy village I bought a roll of Mentos at most and then walked back. I got so brown, so blond, I was so skinny. I wanted it all to myself: the country, the days, my life.
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We visited markets in nameless villages, bought bags of fresh herbs, sent two dozen postcards each. I remembered summer holidays and how my father asked me if I wanted to go for. My father drummed on the steering wheel, I stared out the window.
She grinned too and said that we just had to wait a little and try again. Afterwards we went to the small river that flowed past the campground and floated on our backs hand in hand, letting the current carry us downstream. The blue sky, the sun, looking up through our lashes at the mountains on either side of the Gorges du Verdon. We went so far that we ended up having to walk back five or six kilometres in our bare feet, but we were together with just the two of us and holding hands and when we got back it was already dinnertime.
Doing the dishes, I shed a few silent tears, I remember, because the day was over, because I had let it slip through my fingers. I was in the past, completely, just not the past that was being fought out here, but something much smaller, a much less distant past. But I was lying there in a French uniform, fallen for the glory of the French empire.
The agreement was that you had to stay where you fell; medical orderlies would come to kiss you back to life as it were. The re-enactors were then allowed to return to the starting positions and take part in a subsequent charge. Let them take their time, I thought, let me lie here as long as possible. Out of the corner of my eye I could see other casualties on the ground, metres away.
I could have tried to see if there were any familiar faces among them, but I closed my eyes. A helicopter flew overhead, quite low. I assumed a foetal position and concentrated very contentedly on my own death. Art and white sofas. The child grew up long ago. The space has become a storage room.
I grazed my ankle on it the first morning. I fantasize about stamping it to pieces with my bare feet. She came by to pick up some of her belongings on the first day, a whirlwind of focused energy and Chanel. There have been other writers here before me, most recently an Austrian with his Romanian wife. I remember reading one of his books once: the monologue of a madman, not exactly uplifting, but major literature all the same. I sit at the back of the living room with my back to the street — the only place the internet works. I stare through the glass doors at the concrete pavings on the roof terrace, a shade darker than the air, porous, rainwater seeping through minuscule holes.
People could see in, she said. The camera man wanted to film my typing fingers for a moment. Typing fingers, I typed, typing fingers typing fingers typing fingers fancy a fuck? They have a website that tells you that they, the Ghent Carmelites, are of the barefoot variety. They wear sandals, and sometimes even closed shoes. I imagined taking long walks, reading a book each day and writing in the evenings. Peace and quiet and time to reflect. Instead, I sleep and shake constantly. When I got up this morning, my legs wobbled all over the place.
I jumped up in the. I stayed there for a while inspecting the space under the bed. The rest is blood and padding. When the sun suddenly breaks through the rainclouds, I surreptitiously open the curtains on the street side. I lie down on one of the white sofas and play a game on my telephone. I have to fit numbered blocks together, so that the numbers on the blocks increase in size. After a while, my eyes close and two hours later, I wake up. It has rained again, become chilly in the sitting room, I need to pee, I have to get up, do something. But I stay where I am and stare at the porcelain figurine on the windowsill.
A misshapen little man with a wreath of sunbeams around his head. Yesterday evening, suddenly overcome by severe physical and mental disquiet, I went for a walk through the city. I walked in a north-westerly direction, out of the historic centre, on to the long narrow Phoenixstraat, which is part of the Brugse Poort.
What stops us from completely being ourselves? How do we make our shadows our allies? Women leaned in doorways, smoking cigarettes, waiting for something, waiting for something to happen, a turning point in their lives. They looked at me, those women, and the men too, clustered outside the cafes. How did they do it?
I longed intensely for the softly illuminated tower of Sint-Baafs Cathedral, the motionless willows on the Lieverkaai, their melancholy branches touching the water, but I walked on, and it was as though I stepped right through something and crossed an invisible border. On the way back, I passed the Carmelite monastery.
There was a flyer on the door. For the first time in ages, there was going to be a visible eclipse in the Northern hemisphere today. The eclipse sunglasses were sold out everywhere. This is apparently something people are interested in: a sun with a bite taken out of it, a glimpse of cosmic coincidence. It remained cloudy all day.
They were recording an item for Belgian television about my book, which has been nominated for a Belgian literary prize. The interviewer, a camera man handsome and a sound man looked around in wonder. An apartment like this, right in the centre, I could see them doing the maths. Did I know that a prominent Flemish politician lives here too? A controversial figure, used to be a socialist journalist, speaker for the New Flemish Alliance these days. Or maybe it was something Flemish, a reserve I mistook for disapproval. I picked a large coffee table book about Beuys, sat down at the table with it and pretended to pore over it.
If you want to express yourself you must present something tangible. Again and again, I read the same sentence, just the words, their shape. Tang-i-blie, tan-ger, tan-ger-ine. The crew went out onto the roof terrace. I sat at the window where you can get an internet connection. The writer at work, filmed from behind a steamed-up window. I googled my neighbour, the politician.
He looked like a walrus, moustache like two tusks. Symptoms: weakness, temporary paralysis, double vision, tiredness. The rise of the tick makes being outdoors a little less carefree, I read on www. A tick is strong and can live for a long time. Safe recreation requires heavy artillery. After an eternity, the crew came back in. Then they were gone, for real this time, and it was almost like they were never here. I find a stepladder next to the washing machine. I place my flat hand in the cavity.
Wonder how much bigger this house is from the inside than from the outside. Cleaning, she says. Only need. She makes a polishing gesture.
She holds it up. I hear her clip-clapping down the metal steps. Through a window on the terrace side, I see her emerge onto the walkway opposite me in the apartment complex, before going through a door. My senses are starting to function again. For the first time since I arrived, I feel like a worthy resident, a writer discovering the city in her own writerly manner.
This afternoon I walked past a house whose window was filled with notes. Buddha yes, Allah no. Under it a picture of a goat. I wandered on further through the streets of the Patershol. Noteworthy: the Plotersgracht smelled of burnt cheese, the Vrouwbroersstraat of stale cooking oil. Restaurant ventilation grids, backs of buildings. Suddenly I found the courage to carry on walking without knowing where I was going. Street names must speak to the urban wanderer like the snapping of dry twigs, and little streets in the heart of the city must reflect the times of day, for him, as clearly as a mountain valley.
This art I acquired rather late in life; it fulfilled a dream, of which the first traces were labyrinths on the blotting papers in my school notebooks. A lot of French, German. Philosophy, history, architecture. At the back of the shop there was a table with messy piles of books, a computer screen, a shopkeeper:. Hard to guess his age — anything between forty and sixty seemed credible. He greeted me as I went in, but then returned his full focus to whatever he was doing. I never like talking to shop assistants anyway. I must have been very lonely because after a while, I walked up to the table carrying a couple of beautiful old Suhrkamp editions.
The shopkeeper looked up from his work, not with exaggerated friendliness but not totally hostile either. Two hours and three glasses of wine later, I had to conclude that his haughty bearing was part of his carefully constructed image, which at first seemed eccentric, and then quite appealing to me. He told me his name was Andreas, he was from an aristocratic family and had swapped a failing career as an academic for this bookshop. He got on with his students but not with his colleagues. After a conflict, he was suspended. Fortunately, his mother died during that period, leaving him enough money to say farewell to the university for good.
In , Christ appeared to her and joined her in mystical union. He lived above the shop and rented out the other two floors. He opened the shop whenever he felt like it, but never before one in the afternoon. He often stayed open until late in the evening. His puffy face took on a whole range of expressions, forming their own independent storyline. I tried to decipher the message of that other story by staring in great concentration at his face for long stretches, as though it was a completely separate entity.
It was drizzling. I walked past a beggar kneeling on the pavement, for a moment he looked like a man without legs. It had appeared before her during her visions: shoes off, pray, beg. When she died twenty years later, a father. Around four centuries later, in , Franco seized a reliquary which contained her right hand, minus its index finger. The shrine stood on his bedside table until his death in He walked along the walkway behind my roof terrace at about nine thirty in the morning.
A few minutes later the cleaner appeared. I found Andreas with a dark purple bruise under his left eyelid. A swimmer in the next lane had strayed too far off course and kicked him in the face. From time to time, a customer would come in but no one bought anything. Andreas told me about his plan to write a sitcom set in an antiquarian bookshop. A kind of cross between Seinfeld and Frasier, with a lead character strongly based on Andreas. The wine ran out, Andreas went upstairs to fetch another bottle, told me about his father dictator , his mother alcoholic , his hypocritical brother who was an estate agent and had screwed all of them in various inimitable ways.
We watched two episodes of Brideshead Revisited on his faux Versace sofa. Andreas perked up, and suddenly I saw the inevitable resemblance between the man next to me on the sofa and the charming but unfortunate Sebastian Flyte on the TV screen. Cobblestones and castles, it is like a courtly romance. This lasted for three years and then she woke up. Took a taxi right through the centre, the traffic was at a standstill, arrived just in time. He had a perfectly coiffed beard, perhaps that was an art project too.
The way back was better. When I get home, I find my front door open a chink. The crazy porcelain figurine with his nimbus is probably worth something too. I shout through the chink. The cleaner mutters something in her own language. The neighbour kisses her heels, one by one, and then again. I go inside, picture empty spots where there used to be paintings. I picture the owner, furious. Think it might be because of the open curtains on the street side. If you want to express yourself, I say to the cobblestones, you must present something tangible.
We hugged on the doorstep. The hole is, I notice, fractionally less round than yesterday.
Yesterday I invited Andreas round to the flat. We drank gin and tonic on the white sofas, Tanqueray No. He talked non-stop about his sitcom. This morning was the first time in two weeks that the weather has been fine. I stood on the platform with a rucksack full of unread books. There was a group of girls and boys next to me. The boys were wearing white short-sleeved shirts, the girls colourful dresses to just below the knee.
They had name cards made of black plastic pinned to their chests.
More and more boys and girls joined the group. They talked to each other, the boys to the boys, the girls to the girls, modest but cheerful. I am someone with the tendency to say something, something lasting, something that you can write in the sand and that is still there after two high tides. You can read them separately, as mini-poems, or one after the other. That way, you find yourself in a meandering and extremely disjointed story. You are also free to arrange them how you like, putting them together like pieces of a puzzle. I want to talk about the dream that I had in which I had a child with a man.
The child was a benign lump that grew between our sides, constantly swelling and swelling until it became so big that it could tear itself free and that was the moment I mourned its not being malignant. That we must be flexible like a verb that adjusts to number and tense. A group of fifty English students spent hours discussing a number of issues they came up against when translating my poetry.
As a writer, you usually have one translator. I had more than fifty, all at once! Fifty voices, fifty trains of thought, all twisting and turning amongst and across and on top of each other. A woman comes towards me. On two legs had we been horses we would be rearing. A man who rakes his beard, reddish and scraggy like rolling tobacco. Someone with an expression as vacant as the streets.
There are others. They stand there with little flags and loudspeakers and bratwurst and shout allez allez. We blush. Our eyelids ooze with the sweat. It smacks against my head. And we run out of the night, into the mountains. In the distance a bird sings. We kick our legs until they are no longer ours but those of a mutinous animal.
Ik spreid mijn armen en benen, ze kijkt naar mijn geslacht en noemt het mijn maquette, te roos nog, te klein, te zacht. Sometimes, it is so big that I mistake it for myself. You are still a child, a puppet. I spread my arms and legs, she looks at my genitals and calls them my maquette. Still too pink, too small, too soft. A maquette that was never finished.
It will never become big, never real. About the importance of nuance. Translators as the guardians of nuance. We will wear the hands that weighed us down as shoulder pads! Sometimes we switch places, hiding behind each other like castled kings. In a blind spot there is a child sucking its thumb but we saw it! Even if we sometimes had to include diagrams. To show exactly where the string is. That I take everything so personally. We later went to the Champagne region. I threw up in the hotel. A tookie is a lonely beaver. Are there lots of tookies then?
Translators are so much more than the servants of poets. They have an exemplary role in our society. On the table there are plates like satellite dishes. It was different. In the first place, the dog was dead. They knew it was illegal but a dog deserved a proper burial. He got the fright of his life, of course, but decided not to say anything about it to Sanderijn. She was waiting for him in the kitchen of their flat, on the second floor, where she was sitting on a plastic chair, chain smoking and drinking old jenever.
Dealing with the grief is what she said. Her terrible grief. Where he was waiting to be buried. Hans had his arm around Sanderijn. He squeezed the nape of her neck gently. It was cold. A good day for a funeral. She lit up a new cigarette, inhaled deeply. He pointed at the flat. Second floor. Her cheeks were flushed. He was lying in it nicely, as though he were sleeping.
And he was too. The dog had gone to sleep, never to wake again. They followed the policewomen to the flats, taking the shortest route, across the grass. Her face had become even redder. He looked for the passports, he found the passports, he gave them to the fatter policewoman. The fatter policewoman gave them to the thinner one. They nodded at each other. It seemed more like a question though. The dog will have to be destroyed. A hefty sum. After that they left. Hans had to go with them and get the dog out of the hole. The thinner one had concurred. A filled-in hole. Back to normal, except that things had changed.
She asked him on a Wednesday night. He had been to swim lengths at the sports foundation baths. His hair was still wet. Sanderijn was standing in the kitchen, leaning against the fridge. Try it, just for me. It sounded silly. Hans barked again. It was a bit better. Sanderijn took a step forwards. Her expression was stern. He crawled around the room on all fours and barked and barked and barked. The neighbours rang on the bell. The two of them stood at the door — Theo and Corry. They were wearing identical jackets, made of a synthetic fabric, very windproof.
Hans was still sitting in the chair, he looked flushed. The dog had released something inside them. And now the neighbours were at the door. With their questions. Look at that. She peered past Sanderijn, into the kitchen. Sanderijn jumped, what the hell was he playing at? Corry said. Theo nodded. He thought it was the way of the world too. Dogs die. Hans barked from the kitchen again. Three times in succession, louder now. We love dogs.
I think it shows strength. Theo and Corry advanced. She let the neighbours in, they stood in the kitchen and looked around, searching for the dog. Twenty-six degrees at last. We agreed about everything. I wait. Finally I call her. I feel so weak. Dieting has been her most fanatical hobby for years.
For a while it was as though she had learned to live on air. She did a lot of exercise and survived only on coconut water. I sit at her bedside, and she opens the plastic around the tray with trembling fingers. She holds each strawberry by its crown and takes minuscule bites: first the tip, then four little bites around it, and then the pale left-over.