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Thursday, September 4, 2014

An Open Book. By John von Daler

                You can never tell, she thought. Which one is it today?
                Kate watched her husband roll out of bed and shuffle out to the bathroom; his white pyjamas hardly looked as if he had slept in them. He never really changed positions in bed, but only lay on his back, his face pointed at the ceiling.


                She used to lie looking at his profile which, when they first married, had been sharp, pointed, Nordic, and white. Whatever pigment he had had in his skin had gotten bleached out, much like the paper she once had purchased in Amalfi. The Magna Charta had been written on those Italian sheets of converted Egyptian cotton. But what was being written there on his blank face now?
                These days she seemed to have lost her ability to see his features. What she once could have described in minute detail now escaped her mind. It was as if his physical attributes had metamorphosed into sheer spirit.
                It's all that reading, she thought. They both read ferociously. They devoured books. We should take a break and go for a walk or something. Today as she lay looking at him she had seen something disturbing in his features.
                I've got it! Today it's Copperfield! I'll be damned if I'll let him put that one over on me. The innocent and misused lad indeed! He'll be trying to make me wash up all day, just to avoid misusing him. Wipe that Copperfield off your face! I'm way ahead of you.
                As he opened the door of the bathroom and started to dress she saw that his face had changed.
                Ah, she thought, Copperfield didn't work. He knows me too well. Now he's Native Son, and not to be messed with. There's no anger quite as fulfilling as righteous anger!
                As he turned toward her from dressing by the closet, she saw him look at her face. He averted his eyes, though, after reading her expression for a few seconds.
                Aloysha Karamazov, she thought. He regretted the anger. Now he's the innocent believer. Mess with me and you are messing with the Diety himself! What a ploy! You can't dupe me with that do-gooder stuff! she thought and angrily pounded her pillow into shape.
                As she turned her back on him and stared into the wall she thought once again, We should get out more often. All that reading is just not good for us.

                She settled into a little morning nap and he stood watching her. Her eyes closed and her face took on a new shape. She now looked slightly worse for wear, empty, perhaps even misused. Any theatregoer could have told you that she ressembled The Lady of the Camellias, any opera lover would have recalled La Traviata, any reader would have imagined her dying in a Dumas novel. But her husband just exited the room. He was not buying it. One had to be versed in literary things
not to believe that she wept.

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