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Authors: Antonia Michaelis

The Storyteller (47 page)

BOOK: The Storyteller
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Anna still played the flute, but she didn’t practice the pieces she should have practiced. Instead, she played the simple melodies of Leonard Cohen. She still didn’t know if she’d ever be able to ask Knaake about him. Or whether he would wake up again. Finals had become irrelevant. She’d decide later whether to take them … and when. Linda and Magnus didn’t press her. Maybe, Anna thought, she wouldn’t go to university. Maybe she’d do something different altogether. She just had to figure out what. She’d talk to Gitta about that when she felt ready.

Bertil called for a while, but Anna never answered, and finally she changed her number. She felt sorry for him, but she couldn’t help him.

Leonard Cohen sang from one of the scratched LPs,

Baby I’ve been here before

I know this room, I’ve walked this floor

I used to live alone before I knew you

I’ve seen your flag on the marble arch

But love is not some kind of victory march

No it’s a cold and a very broken Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah …


Somewhere in a parallel world, things were different.

Somewhere in a parallel world, Abel hadn’t fired that last shot. Possibly, he hadn’t fired the one before it either, the one that killed Sören Marinke. And Knaake had never fallen through the ice over the shipping channel. And if these two things hadn’t happened … the last shot hadn’t. Somewhere in a parallel world, Abel was in prison, maybe for a long time … maybe he was in therapy … therapy that didn’t heal anything but brought some things in order. Time couldn’t change the past, but it brought peace. And parallel Anna … she waited.

She was waiting for him when he took his first step back into the normal world. She watched him walk toward her, a smile in his winter-ice eyes. She had long since grown up. They married on a February morning as clear as crystal. Micha was their only witness. They sent her postcards from their journey around the world … from the desert and several remote islands. Later, Micha often visited them, an adult Micha with a husband and two children. And in the house where Anna and Abel lived, somewhere at the end
of a quiet, green lane, there were children as well. Laughing kids, badly behaved kids, dirty and loud kids, who ran through the yard, lighthearted. There were a lot of flowers in the garden, but no roses, and the only songbird to never stray there was the robin.

She told him about the garden when she visited his grave. He lay there, in the slowly stirring March earth, a piece of dead matter. But in their parallel world, they lived on, side by side. She developed each part of their parallel world in meticulous detail … the sunflowers in a vase, the late afternoon light coming in through a window, glasses he wore when he was older, a shelf full of books, a faded leather armchair.

Nothing was perfect, but everything was all right. The light was never just blue.

And the snow that fell onto the roof in winter … it fell softly … softly … and it covered the house, the armchair, the books, the children’s voices. It covered Anna and Abel, covered their parallel world, and everything was, finally, very, very quiet.


is the author of
Tiger Moon
, which was the winner of an ALA/ALSC Batchelder Honor Award and was named a
Kirkus Reviews
Best Book. In a starred review,
said of her novel
Dragons of Darkness
, “Michaelis deftly interweaves magic and realism in an intricate, provocative story that explores the connections between people and events, the allure and dangers of uncompromising idealism, and the power of love.” She lives with her family in Germany.


This book was designed by Maria T. Middleton. The text is set in 11-point Adobe Jenson, an oldstyle typeface designed by the fifteenth-century French printer Nicolas Jenson. Redrawn in the 1990s by type designer Robert Slimbach, Adobe Jenson remains a highly legible face with a distinct calligraphic character. The display typeface is Celestia Antique.

This book was printed and bound by R.R. Donnelley in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Its production was overseen by Erin Vandeveer.

BOOK: The Storyteller
12.71Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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