Читать онлайн "My Struggle: Book One" автора Knausgaard Karl Ove - RuLit - Страница 51

 
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It was four o’clock. So it was still night. I couldn’t go to my office at night. But at half past four, surely that was morning?

I got up and went into the kitchen, put a plate of meatballs and spaghetti in the microwave, because I hadn’t eaten since lunch the day before, went into the bathroom and showered, mostly to pass the minutes it took for the food to heat, dressed, found myself a knife and fork, poured a glass of water, fetched the plate, sat down to eat.

In the streets outside everything was still. The hour before five was the only time of day this city slept. In my earlier life, during the twelve years I had lived in Bergen I used to stay up at night as often as I could. I never reflected on this, it was just something I liked and did. It had started as a student ideal, grounded in a notion that in some way night was associated with freedom. Not in itself but as a response to the nine-to-four reality which I, and a couple of others, regarded as middle-class and conformist. We wanted to be free, we stayed up at night. Continuing with this had less to do with freedom than a growing need to be alone. This, I understood now, I shared with my father. In the house where we lived he had a whole studio apartment to himself and he spent more or less every evening there. The night was his.

I rinsed the plate under the tap, put it in the dishwasher and went into the bedroom. Linda opened her eyes when I stopped by the bed.

“You’re such a light sleeper,” I said.

“What time is it?” she asked.

“Half past four.”

“Have you been up all night?”

I nodded.

“I think I’ll head for the office. Is that all right?”

She pulled herself half up.

Now?”

“I can’t sleep anyway,” I said. “I might just as well spend the time working.”

“Love. .” she said. “Come and lie down.”

“Don’t you hear what I’m saying?” I said.

“But I don’t want to be alone here,” she said. “Can’t you go to the office in the early morning?”

“It’s early morning now,” I said.

“It’s not, it’s the middle of the night,” she said. “And, in fact, I could give birth at any moment. It could happen in an hour, you know that.”

“Bye,” I said, closing the door after me. In the hall I put on my coat and hat, grabbed the bag with my computer and left. Cold air rose from the snow-covered pavement. At the end of the street a snowplow was on its way. The weighty metal blade thundered over the tarmac. She always wanted to hold me back. Why was it so important for me to be there when she was asleep and didn’t notice my presence anyway?

The sky hung over the rooftops, black and heavy. But it had stopped snowing. I began to walk. The snowplow passed me with engine roaring, chains clattering, blade scraping. A mini-inferno of noise. I turned to go up David Bagares gate, deserted and still, toward Malmskillnadsgatan, where your eyes were drawn to the restaurant initials KGB. Outside the entrance to the old people’s home, I stopped. It was true what she had said. The birth could start at any moment. And she didn’t like being alone. So what was I doing here? What was I going to do in the office at half past four in the morning? Write? Do today what I had not succeeded in doing for the last five years?

What an idiot I was. It was our child she was expecting, my child, she shouldn’t have to go through that alone.

I headed back. Putting down my bag and removing my coat, I heard her voice from the bedroom.

“Is that you, Karl Ove?”

“Yes,” I said and went in to see her. She gave me a quizzical look.

“You’re right,” I said. “I wasn’t thinking. Sorry I just took off that way.”

“It’s me who should apologize,” she said. “Of course you have to go to work!”

“I’ll do it later,” I said.

“But I don’t want to hold you back,” she said. “I’ll be fine here. I promise. Just go. I’ll call you if there is anything.”

“No,” I said, lying down beside her.

“But Karl Ove. .” She smiled.

I liked her saying my name, I always had.

“Now you’re saying what I said while I’m saying what you said. But I know you really mean the opposite.”

“This is getting too complicated for me,” I said. “Hadn’t we better just go to sleep? Then we’ll have breakfast together before I go.”

“Okay,” she said, snuggling up to me. She was as hot as an oven. I ran my hand through her hair and kissed her lightly on the mouth. She closed her eyes and leaned her head back.

“What did you say?” I asked.

She didn’t answer, just took my hand and placed it on her stomach.

“There,” she said. “Did you feel it?”

The skin suddenly bulged beneath my palm.

“Oooh,” I said, lifting it up to see. Whatever was pressing up against the stomach, making it bulge, whether a knee, a foot, an elbow or a hand, was now shifting. It was like watching something move under the surface of otherwise tranquil water. Then it was gone again.

“She’s impatient,” Linda said. “I can feel it.”

“Was that a foot?”

“Mm.”

“It’s as if she was testing to see if she could get out that way,” I said.

Linda smiled.

“Did it hurt?”

She shook her head.

“I can feel it, but it doesn’t hurt. It’s just weird.”

“I can believe that.”

I snuggled up to her and placed my hand on her stomach again. The mailbox in the hall banged. A truck drove past outside, it must have been big, the windows vibrated. I closed my eyes. As all the thoughts and images of consciousness began to move in directions over which I had no control, and I seemed to be lying there watching them, like a kind of lazy sheepdog of the mind, I knew sleep was around the corner. It was just a question of lowering myself into its dark vaults.

I was woken by Linda clattering about in the kitchen. The clock on the mantelpiece said five to eleven. Shit. The workday was gone.

I dressed and went into the kitchen. Steam was hissing from the little coffeepot on the stove. The table was set with food and juice. Two slices of toast lay on a plate. Two more jumped up in the toaster beside them.

“Did you sleep well?” Linda asked.

“Like a log,” I said and sat down. I spread butter over the toast, it melted at once and filled the tiny pores on the surface. Linda took the pot and switched off the burner. Her bulging stomach made it look as if she were constantly leaning back, and if she did something with her hands she seemed to be doing it on the other side of an invisible wall.

The sky outside was gray. But there must have still been some snow on the roofs because the room was lighter than usual.

She poured coffee into the two cups she had set out and placed one in front of me. Her face was swollen.

“Are you feeling worse?”

She nodded.

“I’m all blocked up. And I’ve got a bit of a temperature.”

     

 

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