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Lancelot's Return

We sat next to each other on the ground. Far beyond, the horizon touched the grayblue, dull sky, forming a completely straight line. You stood up and looked at the surroundings: endless white, the ground smooth. It was a cool, but not a cold ground. There was nothing else.

We were both naked. The air didn’t seem to have a temperature, day and night were nearly indistinguishable, since there was neither sun, nor moon, nor stars. You ran a few steps away, turned, and came back, facing me hesitantly. Look, you said, and pointed to the crocus in your hand. Studying the plant, I stood up. A young crocus whose blossom was closed and lay in fresh colors. I was amazed at the narrow leaves and the barely discernable rills of its surface, sank my face onto your hand and breathed in the plant or was it your hand also.

As you closed your eyes, so that you too could take in the fragrance, I laid a silk skirt around your hips. You let the crocus fall to the ground and turned around with obvious glee. In the middle of the monotonous plain, whose perimeters were raised, stood a peppermint bush, and the smooth ground revealed shifts, cracks, irregular patterns, rocks and clusters of ferns. The crown of the trees dominated the entire valley.

You longed for a house. Then the wooden door opened and I let you in. A single, wooden chest stood in the corner behind the table. Next to it a hard bed. Choosing from what little clothing was there and dressing ourselves took great effort. You had too little space in the room, pushed the furniture aside with your foot and looked at the boy who was hanging up an axe. Our son. Five girls were playing with a tire in front of the door. "Well?", you asked.

I shook my head, stepped out into the open, and caught some of the snowflakes. Because you were looking sad, I brushed the flakes aside and turned you so that you were facing the sun. We heard the singing of birds. The treetop let out a quiet rustling, calm movements combed through the foliage. It was summer.

"Come", I insisted, and placed a heavy jacket over your shoulders. We followed a trail, between bushes and field flowers, until it emptied further ahead into a gravel path. That got wider, displaced the undergrowth, and had built-up edges. A paved road. Left and right grew pines and palms, further on it was chestnut trees and oaks.

As we reached a two-story villa, we looked at each other, shook our heads and continued on. We crossed through a forest, greeted farmers, tradesmen, the mayor, a watchman. Further on I stopped to get a bicycle from out of a barn. Then I sat you on the luggage carrier. After a few meters we exchanged the bicycle for a tandem.

The road got wider, the stones hardly bothered us at all. "Do you know my uncle", you asked after a pause. I shook my head and looked in the direction you had turned towards. A black car approached and came to a stop in front of us. Disapprovingly I ran my hand over the body. The car was red.

We got in, and it wasn’t long before a chauffeur sat down in the driver’s seat and drove on. We passed fields, farms, and forested hills. In the distance we recognized towers and gables, as an artistically constructed platinum door opened in front of the car. Fields with purebred horses, playing and grazing, lined the asphalt road which we were on. The chauffeur made a half-turn in the castle courtyard, so that he could stop exactly in front of the steps.

Pages and servant girls formed an honor guard. I went as first into the reception hall. Farther towards the back, two staircases led to the upper stories, the window panes consisted of hundreds of mosaic pieces, and the parket floor glistened from the freshly applied finish. In one corner was the entrance to the library.

We had to cross through something like ten rooms to get to the dining hall. Everyone we had invited was there. The President, the General, then the friends from the factories and political circles, and relatives, who, as we knew, had generally settled on the outskirts of the city.

We looked happy, as you sat on one end of the table, with me on the opposite edge. After twelve courses we explored the video room, the movie theater, and the indoor swimming pool. The house was a skyscraper. Its architecture revealed a modern structure, but from the exterior it just looked typical. It was possible to overlook the entire city from the twenty-fourth floor, because we owned the tallest house in the city.

As evening came, each of us was led by a servant to a luxurious bedroom. Every room contained televisions and telephone, and I smiled thinking about the CB radio which I had instructed to be put next to the room bar.

Then each one stood alone in front of an oversize bed. And now, lost in thoughts as you removed your jewelry and put the rings down on the dressing table, your eyes got moist.

"No", you said, and turned to me. Maybe the air had gotten warmer. You came up to me, raised your arm and touched my shoulder, then my almost hairless chest. You could see your reflection in my pupils. As I held your naked waist in an embrace and pulled you towards me, you let me lead you.

The ground was white and smooth. No unevenness disturbed the impression of balanced monotony. All around, the horizon formed a completely straight line. We were alone. Without releasing from our embrace, we had sat down on the ground. "You have my trust, and I have yours", you said. I closed my eyes and nodded. As darkness approached, we sat unchanged on the ground, and except for ourselves there was nothing.

(From: Lose/Destinies. Translation by: Jeff Smith, Cincinnati, USA)