from Katoamispiste (Vanishing Point) by Joel Haahtela (Otava 2010)
Maaria handed me a letter she had found, it bore a date in January 1998. Raija wrote that she had prepared five large bundles of firewood and carried them indoors to dry; now she felt safe for the winter. The novel she was writing was still unfinished, it did not interest her at all. Instead she was thinking of starting a career as an inventor and making her fortune from it, that would be more fun, and easier. She wondered why the iron had no switch; another typical male invention, a strange oversight. In the last paragraph she outlined plans for another journey, to Spain by car, Marbella and the mountains, Portugal and finally Africa, would Maaria come with her? For a week, at least?
It was late afternoon and I put the letter on the table. Maaria said she felt a little guilty, that she ought to be able to remember more. Now she realized there were many things they had never talked about, and that saddened her. I got to my feet and asked if she would call me later if she remembered anything. Maaria nodded and wrote her husband’s name on a piece of paper. Perhaps he may know something, Maaria said, folding the slip of paper into my hand, pressing it into my fist.
Outside it was dark and I walked down the hill, across the bridge to the other side. Later I stopped in front of the church, saw the brilliant lighthouse beacon shining up in the tower. It was cold and I walked briskly to the shore, but had to wait for a ferry. As I shivered under the shelter the dark water gleamed in front of me, and further away was the ferry, its lights swaying on the waves in their gradual approach.
I thought about Ingeborg Bachmann, and the book that had rested on Raija’s table. She read a sentence now and then, wrote another few words, watched through the window an icicle beginning to slide along the telephone wire. What was that doom which had swept over everything? I felt the same sorrow in myself, was that why I was here? I saw Yves Navarre sinking slowly into sleep, heard the rattling in the stair passage as Raija tried to open the door. The lock was stuck, until suddenly it gave way and opened. October 17, 1973, and later: February 7, 2004. Between the two fires lay thirty-one years. I was certain that Paul Roux had come back to try to find the woman he once met. I was certain that he was still there, behind the slowly undulating water, behind the lights.
translated from Finnish by David McDuff
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