And then one evening he came home late. It was raining out and he was soaking wet, his hair plastered down. He came into the kitchen still wearing the dripping coat and shoes muddy from the park. I was reading the paper as I always do in the evening, and he stood above me showering droplets on the pages. He had a terrible look on his face, and at first I thought he had been through something awful, a near-fatal accident, or seen a death on the subway tracks. He said, Do you remember that plant? I couldn’t imagine what he was trying to get at, soaking wet like that, with shining eyes. The ficus? I said. Yes, he said, the ficus. You took more interest in that plant’s health than you have taken in me for years, he said. I was taken aback. He sniffed and wiped the water from his face. I can’t remember the last time you asked me how I felt about something, about anything that might matter. Instinctively I went to reach for him, but he pulled away. You’re lost in your own world, Nadia, in the things that happen there, and you’ve locked all the doors. Sometimes I look at you sleeping. I wake up and look at you and I feel closer to you when you’re like that, unguarded, than when you’re awake. When you’re awake you’re like someone with her eyes closed, watching a movie on the inside of your eyelids. I can’t reach you anymore. Once upon a time I could, but not now, and not for a long time. And I don’t think you give a damn about reaching me. I feel more alone with you than I feel with anyone else, even just walking by myself down the street. Can you imagine how that feels?

Great House, by Nicole Krauss, p. 38



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