There’s something therapeutic about deleting lines that you like. More dead darlings:
the aperitif and digestif that had bookended his lunch at a nearby terrace café lending a certain pleasant, distracted buzzing to the sunlight
“looking back all of it had a certain dreamlike quality, as if he was watching hazy version of himself through a dark curtain”
He tried, and failed, to imagine how any of this might have connected with Max and the (many, silly, passionate) things Max cared about – Max, whose greatest fear (Ernst often thought) was to be seen as conventional.
after the waiter arrived with his fiaker, and he had downed the confection of coffee, chocolate and kirsch, he was – well, not exactly restored to himself (in fact he didn’t quite feel like himself; he felt like a character in some kind of…) but, at any rate, better.
The twin voices of fight/flight were screaming in his ear, his limbs light with adrenaline. A floating slowness came over him, a private pocket of time, a pocket moment, detached from the chronology of the world: the float of dust in the gray light beneath the window, a recollection of –
He coughed, wiped his eyes, directed an accusing stare at Ernst. “How’d you know it wasn’t a gun?”
Ernst glanced at the fallen stapler again. “Because you said it twice. The first time, I believed you. The second time, you were trying too hard.”
blinking against the brightness of the street he had the sense of waking from a disturbing but essentially implausible dream.
He crossed to the window and opened it. Traffic moved along the Ringstrasse, screened from view by a row of trees; pigeons fluttered between buildings. The early summer day was hazy; there was a cool breeze and the light had a silver, particulate quality that made him think of the first whisper of autumn, with its intimations of change (the recommencement of school, the promise of a new, brighter version of oneself just around the corner).
Ernst recalled this, and shivered with a momentary frisson. Because he understood that he would do it – and also understood that although stories allow us to make our lives meaningful, they have their sinister side. That the allure of seeing oneself as a character in someone else’s story is also the path to self-alienation.
“I think we should go to Palestine.”
He gazed at her, holding his breath, and experienced a kind of vertigo as if he was standing at the ledge of a precipice.
She exhaled a short breath. “I can’t talk about this. Not tonight, Max.”
He watched her get up and begin to collect the dishes. He knew that he was being unfair (somehow), that he hadn’t explained anything…. But still he felt a sense of injustice, the wrongness of being misunderstood, and wondered wretchedly when it had all gone so….