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It is almost midnight when I hear the rattle of his motorcycle, and then, finally, the engine dying out. The attic rooms store the heat of the day; I’ve swapped my summer dress for a white nightdress I found in one of the many chests in the attic. It must have been Frieda’s once.
If I look out of the back window, I can see the rushing river and rolling countryside stretch out before me; I can see the woods and the cows in the meadows. Out front I look onto the farmyard and the chestnut tree, which is full of birds. From the window in the gable I can see the pasture, sheep shed, railway tracks, and beyond these Henner’s farm. I never realized how beautiful this landscape was until I moved in here. For the moment I can think of no better place to live.
But now it is nighttime and all I can see is Johannes pushing his bike into the shed. When he comes back out, he lights a cigarette and looks up. He can’t see me. I’ve turned out the light so I don’t have to look at the endless procession of spiders descending from the ceiling on transparent threads. They give me the creeps, and I know he finds this childish fear of mine ridiculous.
He’s been in town, with his artist friends.
When he comes into the room I pretend to be asleep. He chucks his clothes on the floor and goes to brush his teeth—not for long enough, as usual. It’s late and we’ve got to set off early tomorrow. I’m going to lie again and say I don’t have to be in until third period; I’ll just stay in bed until he comes back. Johannes is in his final year; we go to the same school. He’s in the twelfth year and I’m in the tenth. When I was still living with my mom and grandparents, my journey to school began with a forty-five minute march down the hill to our local town, followed by a bus ride to the county town. Altogether it took me about an hour and a quarter. And the journey home was even slower because I had to go back up the hill.
Now Johannes takes me to school on his bike, but I haven’t been going in that often recently. I’ve lost count of the number of lessons I’ve missed. I know I’m going to fail at the end of the year. My mornings are spent reading and smoking; in the afternoons we go for rides in the country, sometimes to the artists’ café in town, where even though it’s still early we drink wine and vodka, and people talk and talk and talk. Johannes likes it, but I don’t really know what to make of it.
Then we climb the stairs to our spiders’ nest and make love. Johannes turns out the light, he’s gentle and tender in bed; he never hurts me. He’s the first man I’ve had. I think I love him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Daniela Krien was born in 1975 in what was then East Germany and lives in Leipzig, where she is an editor and scriptwriter for Amadelio Film. Someday We'll Tell Each Other Everything is her first novel.
ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR: Jamie Bulloch's translations include Ruth Maier's Diary, Portrait of a Mother as a Young Women by F. C. Delius, and novels by Paulus Hochgatterer and Daniel Glattauer.