Excerpt of The History of Love by Nicole Krauss
(Page 1 of 4)
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THE LAST WORDS ON EARTH
When they write my
obituary. Tomorrow. Or the next day. It will say,
LEO GURSKY IS SURVIVED BY AN APARTMENT FULL OF SHIT.
I'm surprised I haven't been buried alive. The place isn't big. I have to
to keep a path clear between bed and toilet, toilet and kitchen
kitchen table and front door. If I want to get from the toilet
to the front
door, impossible, I have to go by way of the kitchen table. I
like to imagine
the bed as home plate, the toilet as first, the kitchen table as
the front door as third: should the doorbell ring while I am
lying in bed,
I have to round the toilet and the kitchen table in order to
arrive at the
door. If it happens to be Bruno, I let him in without a word and
back to bed, the roar of the invisible crowd ringing in my ears.
I often wonder who will be the last person to see me alive. If I
bet, I'd bet on the delivery boy from the Chinese take-out. I
order in four
nights out of seven. Whenever he comes I make a big production
my wallet. He stands in the door holding the greasy bag while I
if this is the night I'll finish off my spring roll, climb into
have a heart attack in my sleep.
I try to make a point of being seen. Sometimes when I'm out,
a juice even though I'm not thirsty. If the store is crowded
I'll even go so
far as dropping my change all over the floor, the nickels and
in every direction. I'll get down on my knees. It's a big effort
to get down on my knees, and an even bigger effort to get up.
Maybe I look like a fool. I'll go into the Athlete's Foot and
say, What do
you have in sneakers?
The clerk will look me over like the poor
that I am and direct me over to the one pair of Rockports they
something in spanking white.
I have those already,
I'll make my way over to the Reeboks and pick out something that
even resemble a shoe, a waterproof bootie, maybe, and ask for it
in size 9.
The kid will look again, more carefully. He'll look at me long
Size 9, I'll
repeat while I clutch the webbed shoe. He'll shake his head and
go to the back for them, and by the time he returns I'm peeling
socks. I'll roll my pants legs up and look down at those
my feet, and an awkward minute will pass until it becomes clear
waiting for him to slip the booties onto them. I never actually
buy. All I
want is not to die on a day when I went unseen.
A few months ago I saw an ad in the paper. It said,
MODEL FOR DRAWING CLASS. $15/HOUR.
It seemed too good to be true.
To have so much looked at. By so many. I called the number. A
told me to come the following Tuesday. I tried to describe
myself, but she
Anything will do,
The days passed slowly. I told Bruno about it, but he
and thought I was signing up for a drawing class in order to see
girls. He didn't want to be corrected.
They show their boobs?
he asked. I
After Mrs. Freid on the fourth floor died, and it took three
before anyone found her, Bruno and I got into the habit of
each other. We'd make little excusesI
ran out of toilet paper, I'd
Bruno opened the door. A day would pass. There would be a knock
my door. I
lost my TV Guide, he'd
explain, and I'd go and find him mine,
even though I knew his was right there where it always was on
Once he came down on a Sunday afternoon.
I need a cup of flour,
It was clumsy, but I couldn't help myself.
You don't know how to cook.
was a moment of silence. Bruno looked me in the eye.
What do you know,
he said, I'm
baking a cake.
From The History of Love by Nicole Krauss. Copyright Nicole Krauss
2005. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of the
WW.Norton. No part of this book maybe reproduced without written
permission from the publisher.