Authors: Jonathan Reeder
Tags: #BIO026000, #FAM014000
She stayed up there a long time, Jenny. Miriam and I looked at each other a couple of times without saying anything. We were thinking the same thing. For God's sake, get that girl out of the house so we can unleash our tears. We hadn't truly appreciated it: a glimpse at a budding romance was the most awful thing that could happen to us, precisely
there would never, for all eternity, be the chance of seeing it through.
Jenny did not come back down, nor did she make any sound upstairs.
âMaybe she just snuck out,' Miriam said. âDid you hear the downstairs hall doors? They haven't been closing so well recently. When the front door shuts, they rattle.'
âI haven't heard anything,' I said. âShe must still be up there.'
âShall I go have a look?' Miriam asked.
âI'll go have a listen at the bottom of the stairs.'
I held my breath as I walked out onto the landing. I listened. Not a peep. The curve in the staircase blocked any view of what was going on up on the next floor. The dim light of the wall lamp on the second floor did not betray any motion, not even a shadow. Afraid to disturb something intimate, I dared not go any further. At the same time, I was anxious.
I went down to the ground floor, where the cats stopped their horseplay on the marble floor and looked inquisitively up at me. To keep them from escaping, I closed the double inner doors tightly. This was how I used to sneak out to CafÃ© Welling, but that was no longer necessary. I twisted the bolt so that the lock wouldn't click shut, and walked backwards between the parked cars onto the street, far enough to look into Tonio's room.
The curtains were open. There were no lights on. From the right, though, where the door led to the landing, a minimally faint light shone into the room. I waited, in case I might see something move. A few times, I had to take a few steps forward, toward the parking spots, in order to let traffic pass. Soon the Concertgebouw would be opening its doors, so the neighbourhood was already crawling with patrons in search of a parking space.
Nothing happened, so I went back inside. The cats had nestled into the curve of the stairs, as though waiting for me: a moment later, they raced ahead of me into the living room, where Miriam sat on the sofa, fighting the urge to cry.
âThere's no light,' I said.
We sat next to each other in silence, waiting resignedly for what was to come. The glasses were empty, but I did not ask for more to drink. It was some time before we heard soft footsteps on the stairs, and only then because I hadn't shut the living-room door all the way. There was a tentative knock at the door.
âI just wanted to say goodbye.'
Jenny hugged Miriam, and then me. Her face was not red from crying, but her lower eyelashes were stuck wetly together.
âCould you find the light switch?' I asked, just to break the silence.
âOh, I didn't go in the room.' She sounded slightly startled, as though she thought I suspected her of desecration. âThe door was open. I stood at the threshold for a long time. To say goodbye.' And as she turned to go, she said: âYou know, I really believe that the dead leave a kind of energy behind for us.'
Amsterdam, June 2010âMarch 2011
The translator wishes to thank Ruud van Odenhoven for his invaluable and unstinting assistance in matters pertaining to Dutch culture.
The English translation published here of Gerrit Kouwenaar's poem âthere are still' (originally published in Dutch as â
' by Querido) is copyright Â© David Colmer.
Hans Faverey (1933â1990) wrote his collection of poetry
on his deathbed, after a lengthy illness. It was originally published in Dutch as
by De Bezige Bij. The English translation published here is copyright Â© Francis R. Jones.
All footnotes have been written by the translator, with the exception of one provided by the author and identified as such.
The following works are cited in
by Adri van der Heijden:
Advocaat van de Hanen
Lawyer to the Punks
De Tandeloze Tijd
The Toothless Time
The Revolving Door
Een gondel in de Herengracht
A Gondola in the Herengracht
Judgement by Shards
De slag om de Blauwbrug
The Battle of the Blue Bridge
Het Hof van Barmhartigheid
The Court of Mercy
Onder het plaveisel het moeras
Under the Pavement the Morass)
De Movo Tapes
The Movo Tapes
The Danger Triangle
Reis in een boom
Travels in a Tree
Het bankroet dat mijn goudmijn is
The Bankruptcy That is My Goldmine
To date, none of Van der Heijden's works, aside from
, has been translated into English. The English equivalents given above are provisional working titles that have been assigned by the Dutch Foundation for Literature.
by Alfred Kossmann:
Geur der droefenis
Smell of Sadness)
by Jan Wolkers (film by Paul Verhoeven):
by Louis van Gasteren (film):
Hans, het leven voor de dood
This requiem memoir is based in part on my diary entries, some of which were published earlier in their original form in
Hier viel Van Gogh flauw
(2004). The incident of the replaced front-door lock appeared, in modified form, in the novella
(1998) and the collection of short stories