Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Inger Edelfeldt: "An Uninhabitable House" - 4

Sofia has a gentle, melodious voice, like the little bird she in fact is. But she can't sing. Not as if I could, either. Not as if I could.

I let her go her off. In any case, I need time to get dressed and get ready. This time, I really do want to look my best, wearing my brightest clothes. I want to get dressed up and do myself up for his sake, as a tribute to the power of love within me. I want to deck myself in colour and fragrance, the way you decorate a room, or a shrine. Sofia says I'm not natural. My hair is dyed, my face painted. Round my neck hang precious stones, feathers and talismans. I know I sometimes overdo it, but the hoarser my voice, the greater the urge to dress up.

My hands trembled while I made myself look beautiful. I checked Sofia, she was sitting there together with Andreas. I looked at him. You could see that he hadn't slept a wink all night; oh, those delicious shadows under his eyes where a night of worry had left their mark. He was pale, as if struck by the word of God, and the whole of his body was begging: bless me with Thy touch.

They talked about taking a walk in the woods, where the wild cherry trees grew.

My tongue, the tips of my fingers and my sex all ached with longing for his body, his warmth, his essence. I could hardly control myself, but I knew I would have to. It was Sofia he wanted.

Everything had been so much simpler when we were small. No, it wasn't easy. We were always told we shouldn't disturb, or not to be a nuisance to others, and on no account were we allowed to have tantrums. We also learnt that well-brought up folk ate what they were served, learnt to forgive people who hurt us, and to lend others their toys even if they got broken in the process.

Sofia found it easy to conform, but I could never learn how you were supposed to behave in furnished rooms. So I was given a corner to myself with paints and paper. It was me who invented all those pictures. All those brightly coloured paintings and the songs were mine too, me who had so many treasures to guard.

Sofia and me used to play a fantasy game, pretending we had moved to the woods and were building a house for ourselves out there without anyone else's help. And if we did have to be in contact with Civilisation, it would be Sofia who went and fetched things, since she was good at being liked.

But we had never reckoned with life becoming what it has. With architectural students coming by, with us unable to keep away from them. Every time it's just as painful.

Perhaps she's right; perhaps I ought to keep away. I could experience him through her. But I get into such a strange mood when I'm not allowed to be present. And she knows this too.

So I stepped outside and the wind blew straight into my face and glued my thin dress against my body. Heat waves don't make life any easier for me.

[to be continued]

Translated from Swedish by Eric Dickens

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