Authors: Ingo Schulze
One More Story
33 Moments of Happiness
THIS IS A BORZOI BOOK
PUBLISHED BY ALFRED A. KNOPF
Translation copyright © 2011 by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House, Inc., New York, and in Canada by Random House of Canada Limited, Toronto.
Originally published in Germany as Adam und Evelyn by Berlin Verlag GmbH, Berlin, in 2008.
Copyright © 2008 by BV Berlin Verlag GmbH, Berlin.
Knopf, Borzoi Books, and the colophon are registered trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data.
Schulze, Ingo, [date]
[Adam und Evelyn. English]
Adam and Evelyn : a novel / by Ingo Schulze ;
translated from the German by John E. Woods.—1st American ed.
“This is a Borzoi book.”
1. Germany—Fiction. I. Woods, John E. (John Edwin) II. Title.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Jacket illustration by Emilio Brizzi / Millennium Images, U.K.
Jacket design by Peter Mendelsund
Clara and Franziska
In our deepest convictions, reaching into the very depths of our being, we deserve to live forever. We experience our transitoriness and mortality as an act of violence perpetrated against us. Only Paradise is authentic; the world is inauthentic, and only temporary. That is why the story of the Fall speaks to us so emotionally, as if summoning an old truth from our slumbering memory.
The church fathers, and not only Augustine, condemned as heresy the assertion that Adam, along with Eve, was damned for all eternity. They in fact became saints, their day falling on December 24. They ultimately advanced to patrons—not as might be expected of the planters of orchards, but rather—of the guild of tailors. After all, they were the first human beings to wear clothes. And God the Father had sewn their garments Himself.
Eva und Adam
ALL AT ONCE
there they were, the women. They appeared out of the void, attired in his dresses, pants, skirts, blouses, coats. At times it seemed to him as if they were stepping out of the whiteness, or had simply emerged, finally breaking through the surface to reveal themselves. He just had to tip the tray of developer the least bit, that was all it took. First there was nothing—and then suddenly something. But that moment between nothing and something could not be captured—it was as if it didn’t exist at all.
The oversize sheet slid into the tray. Adam turned it over with plastic tongs, nudged it deeper, turned it again, stared at the whiteness, and then at the image of a woman in a long dress draped in a spiral around her ample body, but leaving one shoulder bare, found himself gazing at it as devoutly as if a miracle had happened, as if he had compelled a spirit to assume form.
Adam briefly held the photo up with the tongs. The black surface of the background was softer now, but the dress and the armpit held their contour. He picked up his cigar from the rim of the ashtray, took a puff, and blew the smoke across the wet image before dipping it in the stop bath and from there into the tray of fixer.
The squeak of the garden gate unsettled him. He heard the footfall growing louder, taking the three stairs, heard the soft thud of the shopping bag meeting the front door as it opened.
“Adam, are you home?”
“Yes,” he called so loudly that she would have to hear him. “Down here!”
The sound of her heels passed overhead as he blew on the negative, wiped it with a chamois cloth, and then slipped it into the enlarger again. He pulled the image into focus and switched off the light. The kitchen tap opened, then closed, the steps returned—suddenly she was hopping on one foot, pulling off her sandals. The empty bottles in the basket behind the cellar door clinked.
“Hm.” He removed one sheet from the package, 18 by 24, and squared it in the enlarger.
Tread by tread Evelyn descended the stairs. Her fingers would be dusty again, from running her hand against the low ceiling to keep from bumping her head.
He picked up his cigar again for a few more quick puffs that left him completely enveloped in smoke.
Setting the timer for fifteen seconds, he pushed the big square button—the light came on, the timer began to buzz.
With a stirring motion Adam waved a flattened aluminum spoon above the woman’s head, pulled it away with catlike speed, and as if going for a wade in the water, extended his fingers to shadow the woman’s body, but drew them back before the enlarger’s light went off again and its buzz fell silent.
“Whoa! Damn, that stinks! Do you have to smoke down here too, Adam?”
Adam picked up the tongs to immerse the paper in the developer. He didn’t like to be disturbed when he was working with his photography. He didn’t even have a radio down here.
Barefoot, Evelyn was still a good half head taller than Adam. She groped her way over to him now, tapped his shoulder. “I thought you were going to fix us something to eat?”
“In this heat? I spent the whole time mowing the lawn.”
“I’m going to have to leave again.”
The woman in the long dress appeared on the white paper. It annoyed Adam that she was evidently sucking in her stomach, he thought he could tell from her smile that she was holding her breath. But then maybe he was mistaken. He used tongs to dip the image into the stop bath and from there into the fixer. Now he tugged a new sheet from the package, folded it down the middle, and ripped it in half against the table edge. He stuck one half back in the package.
“What are you eating?” he asked.
“Close your eyes. You’re peeking, stop it.”
“Have they been washed?”
“Yes, I’m not trying to poison you,” Evelyn said as she pushed a grape into his mouth.
“Where’d you get these?”
“Kretschmann’s, the old man slipped me an extra sackful. I didn’t know what was in it.”
The enlarger light went on.
“What do you want me to tell Frau Gabriel?”
“Put her off.”
“But I’ve got to tell her today. If they’re going to give me vacation time in August, then I’ve got to take it.”
“She’s nuts. We’ll take off when we want to take off.”
The light went out.
“We wanted to go in August. You said August, and Pepi said August was better for her too. Without kids nobody ever gets vacation time in August. Besides, the visa will expire.”
“It’s not a visa.”
“It doesn’t matter what you call it. We applied for August.”
“It’s good till September tenth.”
Adam dragged the paper through the tray, turning it twice.
“Now she’s sexy!” Evelyn said, as the woman in a pantsuit emerged, hands braced against her back, breasts thrust forward.
“Any mail?” Adam asked.
“Nope,” Evelyn said. “Why don’t we take the train?”
“I don’t like being stuck in one spot. It’s boring without the car. You got any more?”
Evelyn shoved the rest of the grapes into his mouth, then wiped her wet hands on her jeans. “And so what am I going to tell Frau Gabriel?”
“One week at least, she’s got to give us a week.”
“By then August is as good as over.”
“You can turn on the light,” he said, once he’d laid the proof in the fixer. He stepped across to the rectangular sink, where several more photos were swimming, fished one out, and hung it on the line with some others.
“And in the real world?”
“Renate Horn from Markkleeberg. Got any more grapes for me?”
“You’ll have to go upstairs for them. And this one here?”
“You know her. Desdemona.”