Unformed Landscape

Unformed Landscape by Peter Stamm Read Free Book Online

Book: Unformed Landscape by Peter Stamm Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Stamm
her clothes. She went into the bedroom. She took down her old red suitcase, and packed a few clothes into it, and her father’s old camera, which he had loved but hardly ever used. The telephone rang. She went into the kitchen and at the bottom of Thomas’s note, she wrote: “You won’t find me.”
    She left the house. At the ATM machine, she drew out most of her money, and then she went down to the harbor. She was there at half past eight. The Hurtig Line vessel was due in half an hour. Kathrine was afraid Thomas might go to the apartment, see his note, start looking for her, and come down to the harbor. But he didn’t come.Presumably, he was eating with his family. Presumably, he expected her to turn up.
    Kathrine sat in the waiting room. She got up, paced back and forth. She read the graffiti scratched in the varnish of the door frame, telephone numbers, declarations of love, obscenities. In the angle of the door frame, a black felt-tip pen had written: “Arwen and Sean came here in a rainstorm at 8.30 p.m., lost and in love.” Kathrine rubbed at it until the writing had disappeared, and her fingertips were warm with friction, and black. Then she cried again, not as hard as before, but quietly and in despair. As the ship drew in, she wiped away her tears.
    Thomas and Kathrine. Lost and in love. No, she thought. She had believed Thomas loved her, but he had hardly even been aware of her. She was a good listener. The part she played in his life could have been played by pretty well anyone. But why was he out to impress her? She was inferior to him in every respect. Why did he continually have to rattle on about his feats, his adventures, his achievements? All the things he had told her. And what had she ever told him? He had never asked about anything in her life, and if she did happen to talk about it, he hadn’t paid any attention. So she had ended up keeping her stories to herself. Her stories.
    She remembered reading once about how the dinosaurs had become extinct because the earth had been hit by acomet. She was still upset about that weeks later, had woken up in the night and gone over to the window to look up at the sky. Later, there was a time she wanted the earth to be struck by a comet. But it didn’t happen. On Svalbard, they had found dinosaur prints.
    A year ago, the entire staff of the customs and excise office had been flown out onto a ship by helicopter. The flight had been a lovely experience. Kathrine had seen the village from above, and then they had been winched down onto the ship’s deck in a basket, and, together with Coast Guard people, they had combed the whole ship. They hadn’t found anything. One of the Russian agents had tipped them off, but presumably it was just his way of settling a personal score. Things went on among the Russians that none of the customs people really could understand.
    And other than that? She had never been anywhere. She hadn’t seen anything, and she had nothing she could talk about. Once, as a little girl, she had stowed away on one of the Hurtig Line ships, along with Morten. They had got as far as Mehamn, five hours away, and then they had been discovered by a crewman, or else they had given themselves up because they were bored, or cold, or hungry, down in the hold.
    But was that really what happened? Her mother told the story over and over. How the Mehamn harbormaster had called them to him, and given them something to eat, and put them on another ship the next morning. The localpaper had run a report, two young stowaways. Her mother had cut out the article and saved it with the family photographs. Now you’ve been in the newspaper, she had said.
    And what about Helge and the baby? Once the baby was there, there was no point in asking herself how it could have come to that. What was done was done. That was what her father had always said to her mother, what’s done is done. When he had to sell his boat, either because the fishing grounds were almost

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