Trafika Europe 1 - Northern Idyll

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.


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