Fiction, Literature

Literary Pyrotechnics

….The room in the hotel in Amsterdam that night.

It was very clean, with a rose-patterned wallpaper.

“Now, you mustn’t worry about money,” Enno says. “Money’s a stupid thing to worry about. You let me do. I can always get some. When we get to Paris it’ll be all right.

(When – we – get – to – Paris….)

There’s another bottle of champagne on the table by the bed.

“Love,” Enno says, “you mustn’t talk about love. Don’t talk….”

You mustn’t talk, you mustn’t think, you must stop thinking. Of course, it is like that. You must let go of everything else, stop thinking…

Next morning we eat an enormous breakfast of sausages, cold meat, cheese and milk. We walk about Amsterdam. We look at pictures in the Rijksmuseum. “Would you like to see your double?” Enno says.

I am tuned up at top pitch. Everything is smooth, soft and tender. Making love. The colours of the pictures. The sunsets. Tender, north colors when the sun sets — pink, mauve, green and blue. And the wind very fresh and cold and the lights in the canals like gold caterpillars and the seagulls swooping over the water. Tuned up to top pitch. Everything tender and melancholy — as life is sometimes, just for one moment….And when we get to Paris; when – we – get – to – Paris….

“I want very much to go back to Paris,” Enno would say. “It has no reason, no sense. But all the same I want to go back there. Certain houses, certain streets….No sense, no reason. Just this nostalgia….And, mind you, some of my songs have made money….”

Suddenly I am in a fever of anxiety to get there. Let’s be on our way, let’s be on our way….Why shouldn’t we get as far as Brussels? All right, we’ll get as far as Brussels; might be something doing in Brussels.

But the fifteen pounds have gone. We raise every penny we can. We sell most of our clothes.

My beautiful life in front of me, opening out like a fan in my hand….

What happened then?….Well, what happens?

The room in the Brussels hotel — very hot. The bell of the cinema next door ringing. A long, narrow room with a long, narrow window and the bell of the cinema next door, sharp and meaningless.

~ Jean Rhys, Good Morning, Midnight (1938)

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