Extract

Kirsten Hammann

Se på mig ('Look at me')    

 

‘It’s Julie -.’
‘What’s wrong?’
‘Casper has moved out. He has gone to India. He says he needs time to think.’ ‘What! When did that happen?’
‘Right now. He has just left.’
‘What a strange time to leave. Has he got cold feet about the wedding?’
‘He says that it has to be just right. He can’t commit until he’s quite sure -.’
‘Oh, you poor thing, you sound dreadful. I’m coming over.’    

Sobbing, Julie staggers around the living room as if she were drunk and struggling to walk in a straight line. Then she pauses to put on a CD so her neighbours won’t be able to hear her. There are some great songs on Burt Bacharach’s Best. She picks One Less Bell To Answer and Make It Easy On Yourself and programs the CD player to play only those two tracks over and over.
‘I should be happy, but all I do is cry …’
She stands in the middle of the floor and sings at the speakers as loud as she can while she cries. ‘
'I spend each day the way I start out: Crying my heart out!’
Oh, how awful it all is. She covers her face with her hands. She rocks herself. He can’t leave her. He loves her. He wants to get married and have children. He has always said he wants to spend the rest of his life with her.
‘Make it easy yourself … because breaking up … is so … very hard to doooo …’
She gets a text message. Oh, it’s him, it’s him! She is instantly completely calm, but it is only Nina texting that she will be there in ten minutes. She goes to the bathroom, washes her face and blows her nose. Of course he needs time to think. When you love someone you must set them free. It would be stupid if they tried to talk about it tonight. She opens a bottle of red wine, goes back to the living room, puts on some George Michael and turns down the volume.  

The intercom buzzes. It is Nina. When they meet at the front door and Julie is about to say hi, she burst into tears again.
‘Oh, Julie,’ Nina says and hugs her.
‘It’s just so awful -.’
‘Yes, it’s absolutely incredible.’
They enter the living room and Julie pours wine into their glasses.
‘How can he just leave me? I don’t understand.’
‘What happened? Did you have a row?’
‘No, we were having dinner and he was being a bit quiet, and then later he said that he was going to India the day after tomorrow.’
‘Just like that?’
‘I started laughing because I thought he was joking, but he wasn’t. He said he needed time to think and it was something he had to do on his own and that he was really sorry.’
‘So he booked the trip without telling you?’
‘Yes, and he has taken six months’ leave from work.’
‘Six months!?’
‘Yes, he has had his travel jabs and everything. His family knows about it, and his friends, I’m the only one who didn’t know anything.’
‘Gosh.’
‘So I asked him if it was because he wanted to get away from me, but it wasn’t, he said. He loves me, but if we’re to get married and have children it has to be just right. That’s what he kept saying that it had to be just right and that he wants to be one hundred per cent sure.’
‘I thought he was when he proposed to you.’
‘So did I!’
They drink their wine.
‘You can smoke if you want to,’ Julie says. ‘No, I’ll go over to the window later.’
They discuss that of course they need to look at it from his point of view and if that is what he needs to do, then they have to respect it. Julie can’t change Casper and if she wants him then she has to take all of him - including the trip to India. He is coming back tomorrow to pack his things while she is at work.

Translated by Charlotte Barslund  

 

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