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addressed the envelope. A woman?, he said in surprise,

umm, oh, then that would be María, from Vetrarströnd. He

took the envelope, gave it a quick look and was taken aback

when he saw the letters, their ardour, as if they were all

running into each other. They’re fighting, he added; the

letters, he explained when Andrea asked “what”? So she’s

that ardent, is she?, said Andrea, smiling at the boy, who

heard hardly anything over the pounding of his heart.

María would never write like that; she’s ardent, of course,

fires burn inside her, she cries sometimes about something

she’s lacking, without knowing what, just feels as if she’s

lacking something, and then Jón holds her, his embrace is

warm and strong, yet doesn’t encompass the horizon. No,

María would likely be more meticulous, she delivers only

the best and would have made the letters smaller, to save

space; she knows no other way. He looked at the envelope.

Yes, he said, she’s ardent. How does her heart beat? So

ardently that herbivores in Africa look up, so ardently that

the birds of the air are knocked off course. We can go over

English a bit, said the boy to Andrea, who smiled widely,

warming the boy with her smile, warming him so much

that he was able to sit at the table, go over singular and

plural in English without going mad with impatience, he sat

calmly, now and then leaning closer to Andrea, she has

such a warm scent, blended with a faint musty smell from

her basement room, and twice she stroked his cheek with

her weary fingers, these two people far out on life’s sea of

uncertainty, surrounded by heavy currents. He breathed in

Andrea and the letter quivered as it touched his flesh.