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Youth

Maybe he had not yet thought about it. It was not his fault that the entire table looked empty. The surface was smooth and polished, with no trace of dust at the edges. Max sat down, his arms lightly touching the wood, and closed his eyes. His nose was stopped up; small wonder with the constant draft blowing through the room. It was clear that he had not yet thought about the eraser.

The text almost covered the whole page. It was written in pencil, as if Max had foreseen the absurdity of it, the futility that now tormented his thoughts unbearably. Each stroke, each particle of each letter had to disappear, had to be taken back into himself and made totally unavailable to his mother. Max stood up, stepped behind the chair and surveyed the desk. Sometimes he simply overlooked the important things. Perhaps the eraser had fallen onto the floor. Max bent forward, but no, there was nothing to be seen. Disappointed, he sat down again. The whole paragraph had to be undone. He could not cross it out because that would not cancel it, and it could certainly never be unthought. Each sentence, quickly jotted down with a pencil, had to disappear. There was no alternative.

Max opened the uppermost drawer slowly, note quite looking directly at it. Then he closed it to the point where he could just see into it, feeling the shadow from inside the drawer spread across his back. He gazed intently downward, his facial muscles frozen in slack tension. With his free hand, Max touched his chin. He took a deep breath and rose from the chair, pushing it back with his legs. His nostrils twitched, but only a weak urge to sneeze remained. Max reached into the drawer with his whole arm, being careful not to bump against the wood. Then he stuck his head into the drawer. The light from outside cast a faint backdrop of illumination. Max drew his left leg into the drawer, and then his right one. Thus poised, he had the uncomfortable sensation of gravity no longer existing. The sudden cracking of wood quickly convinced him however that it did as the drawer broke loose from its track.

As the mother came into the room, she saw one of the drawers lying on the floor. She attributed the fact that it was moving back and forth to the draft that was once again blowing through the apartment. She stood without hesitation in front of the table, holding in her hands a sheet of paper written with a pencil, and read.

(From: Lose/Destinies. Translation by: Anne Holcomb, Little Rock, USA)