Drawing for the Day and All That I Am
After he leaves, the happiness of his company persists in the room. I lay my head over the chair back and close my eyes again.
I am slouching, head back on the leather car seat. Dora and I are in a cathedral of trees; from each side of the road poplars arch above us to touch. The dapples of light they admit rush over the bonnet and the windscreen and over our bodies, so we can feel our speed. Dora drives; I never learnt. Her arms are bare but she wears cream kid gloves that fasten across the back of her wrists, and she talks and talks, eyes ahead as the ribbon of road flattens under the car. She is counting votes for something – her politics were much more practical than mine – but I have stopped listening. The wind plays with her hair.
Yesterday afternoon we signed in as man and wife at the Schloss Eckberg in Dresden. As her hand moved across the register I reached into her hair, casually as I could, and removed some grass stalks. Smiling mildly all the while to the concierge. By Dresden on the banks of the Elbe the reeds grow to chest height. Dora had dragged me off the path and deep into them, laughing and pushing me down till the world was a patch of sky in a blurring green frame. In the morning she had three cups of coffee and toyed with her egg before she could smoke, this woman who was all appetite.
I have never felt so wanted. I reach across to hold her neck in my hand.
‘You hungry?” she interrupts her stream of talk. ‘They packed us some food.’
There’s a basket at my feet under the dash. In it I find a magnificent pear. When she bites, the juice drips down.
‘Damn,’ she laughs. I grab my handkerchief and start dabbing in her lap and she shoots me a look, swiping her chin with the back of one leathered hand. The other hand then slipping on the wheel and the wheel spinning through it, the pear airborne past my nose and the car screeching, failing to match the turn in the road. Her feet pump the pedal but it’s no use and we go, slower than is possible, to the end, which comes in a metal scream against one of the poplars.
Steam hisses from the bonnet. Dora pulls herself back from the steering wheel and sees that I am all right. A man runs towards us who turns out to be the town policeman. After he checks that we are unharmed, he shakes his head, looking up and down the empty road on this blue-sky day and wondering aloud how such a thing could happen.
‘Officer,’ Dora offers, as if in full and final explanation, ‘I was eating a pear.’