Translated by Adam Cullen

It’s hard to top chatting away until a late hour, listening to other people’s conversations, and then sliding into solitude, onto a late-night bedspread, to read a couple of pages. My mind wanders and my gaze scans the lines, but suddenly seizes upon a random sentence. “I saw everything and felt nothing,” Schlink writes. Better if it were the opposite: to feel more than you see. I watch the headlights of a solitary car glide through the room, reminding me of the hours that came before sleep in childhood, when a light fleeing across the walls was simultaneously fascinating and horrifying. I listen to the plaster flaking from the ceiling and imagine the men who once plastered it there, men from the era of my great-grandfathers. I consider the probability of life: shooting a bullet towards a centimeter-wide target located two billion light-years away. I notice the silhouette of a spider on the window and wonder whether anyone has ever given a household spider a name. I stare out at the white night. It’s June 26th, presently, but could easily be six nights earlier – I strolled down my home street of old, where the blotches on the pavement of my childhood had resembled islands in the sea. They are the hours of dreamlike luster where people greet strange cats and the clatter of a train traveling several kilometers away sounds like the echo of feelings. All your failed wishes are suddenly light to bear.

Jan Kaus is a writer