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visa? How would we live on his modest stipend? What

would happen to me in a distant world whose language I

did not speak, alone, and dependent on the ups and downs

of his mental health? The balance tipped several weeks

before our wedding when I started to vomit secretly in the

morning. I would stay on in Vienna without him.

I had been his lover, his confidante, his nurse, but in

Grinzing I discovered the loneliness of living together. His

manias did not stop at measuring a spoonful of sugar a

hundred times. They governed every one of his actions. I

had to recognize that he had not left his obsessions behind

in the room at Purkersdorf. They were alive and kicking in

our midst. His egotism was not a side effect of his ill health

but intrinsic to his character. Had he ever thought of

anyone but himself? I hid my condition. Ten years of

patience had certainly earned me a small lie of omission.

I had begged my father to avoid talking about politics on

my wedding day. At lunch, after a few glasses, he could

restrain himself no longer. My fingers tightened on my

napkin as he called for silence. After clinking his knife

against his glass, he declared with wavering solemnity, “To

the bride and groom, to our Czech friends, and to a lasting

peace in Europe, finally!”

I watched Rudolf, our Czech “friend,” scowl and bite back a

stinging retort.