His name’s Jansson, Karl no less. He has stories of his time in France that he likes to share but his fiancé, Emma, has heard them all and isn’t in the mood. She wears her hair up in a mess of bobby pins and ribbon, and very soon they are going to have a conversation about Karl finally growing up and starting to properly plan for their future. Her father, also called Karl, wants him to take up a position in his textile firm, nothing major, but with an eye for professional growth, but Karl-the-fiancé would have to stop those endless wanderings through the city at night and take up ordinary hours. She loved him for his bohemian ways but she thought that, like herself, he would slowly shed them as he aged. He hadn’t. In his tiny room Karl has stacks of cheap yellow notebooks that are filled with writing he arrogantly refers to as his oeuvre, and when he is out she likes to read them. He is methodical with keeping date and time records, and, better, she has to admit that what he writes is really quite good, but there’s no money in it. She is ashamed of herself when she thinks this way but she can’t help it. One of her biggest fears is that at the end of the month there’ll be nothing left, and she’ll need to approach her father again. She tallies and she calculates and she cuts where she can but sometimes the numbers just don’t balance and when this happens she pleads with him to work a little more, to refrain from the third glass of wine, to put some aside when he can. He does, but she can see it pains him. He’s not being honest with himself to live like that. Very early in the morning, irrespective of what he has done the night before, he is up and writing at his desk, the desk they placed by the window in order for him to have an inspiring view. After writing for two hours he steps away from his desk and visits her wherever she is, on the toilet, in the shower, sleeping still, or eating breakfast, it doesn’t matter, and he smiles and rakes his hand through his hair and his eyes are bright, and he says, I feel like Proust! I feel like Handke! I feel like Vargas Llosa! I feel like Sienkiewicz! I feel like Mann! I feel like Flaubert! I feel like James! She recognises the names because he says them to her each and every morning, but otherwise, no. She tried the Golden Bowl once, but it went over head and she couldn’t concentrate enough on the words. She likes the paintings on the covers of his books, though, and through them she has in spite of herself rekindled her interest in expressionist painting, and when she can steal some time after work she wanders through one of the galleries in the city and stares up at the paintings, mouth open. It’s late now, she can hear his footsteps. They are heavy, he’s been drinking, he comes in the door, he’s humming, he smiles, she loves him, he sweeps her up in his arm, his breath smells of white wine, he laughs, he touches her hair, her bobby pins are difficult to remove but it turns out not to matter, and after a little while the ribbon falls to the floor, red.
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The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.