On the sixth of August I took a long summer break and returned home to Magdeburg. Everything seemed much more spacious; but my room was left untouched, so I focused on settling myself down first. I unpacked, took a leisurely shower, and spent the rest of the time preparing dinner.
Papa didn’t go to Harz, after all–not before he died. I haven’t even heard from Mama or Anja after the cursed camp. It must be an accident or a sudden heart attack, but then I found myself discarding the theory. He hadn’t any health problems. Maybe he died in a car accident, but that’s nonsense too. Nor was his death a coincidence. After the Island Incident, I tried to interpret it as a sign or a coincidence, because such a waking was so monumental I couldn't really get over it yet. But you still can't call Papa's sudden death a sign or a coincidence. When I felt my head was going to burst, my mind shifted to many other things; most of them involving death.
By the time I got onto the plane to Magdeburg, I had decided I wouldn’t go back to visit my Realschule. It seems to be the most natural solution. Risking myself and crossing that threshold between life and death would have been easier than swallowing down a slick, raw egg.
Perhaps I didn’t dare face Mother Mary because I couldn’t conceive of a method that fits the pure and intense feelings I had towards sin. But the method was beside the point. If there had been a door within reach that led straight to hell, I would have pushed it open without a second thought, as if it weren’t the opposite of life, but part of it.
I really should have died then, I told myself. It was a bewitching thought. This world here and now would then no longer exist. The present world wouldn’t exist, and reality would no longer be real. As far as this world was concerned, I would simply no longer exist—just as this world would no longer exist.
At the same time, I couldn’t fathom what led me here when death held such a hold on me. There was an actual event that had led me to this place—this I knew all too well—but why should death envelop me so strongly? Like Jonah in the belly of the whale, I have fallen into the bowels of death, one day after another, lost in a dark, stagnant void. All I see is a thick cloud of nothingness persuading me to consume me into part of them. All I hear is profound drumming of silence.
When I wasn’t thinking about death, my mind wandered around Utterson. He was no longer a person. He was no longer a thought, an opinion, or a dream. All that remained of him was the memory of his messy black hair and his indigo parka that matched with his eyes.
It was only then a realisation came to me; I never knew Utterson’s hobbies. In fact, I don’t seem to know about Utterson at all. All I could think of was his appearance and his everyday mischief. I know a few fun facts, like he was the same height and his birthday was 17 May, but nothing sentimental, despite spending time with him at least once for two years (that includes random phone calls he made for no reason other than nonsense). When I tried picturing his face in my mind, what came up instead was a hazy, blue-and-white portrait with mist clouding his face. And when I imagined what lay through that cloud, the portrait morphed into unrecognisable swirls of shades and tints. The face of Aristide Utterson never showed up. Instead, it was just dissipating air, the cries he bled from his heart, and the hidden bliss when he knew those cries had reached someone.
I’ve spent two years with Utterson–yet, he seemed so distant and hollow. The more time you spend with a person, the more you think you know about that person. Yet, it wasn’t like that at all. Instead, you grow something like a ‘blind spot’.
Other than that, it wasn’t hard to keep from thinking. I don’t read any newspapers, don’t listen to music, and have no sexual desire to speak of. Events occurring in the outside world are inconsequential. When I grew tired of Schmidt keeping on asking me about the Island Incident, I wandered aimlessly around the faculty or went to the river bank, where I sat and watched the fish arriving and departing, over and over again.
I barely noticed what I ate. I ate whatever is given to me, but other than that, I hardly consumed a healthy meal. Whenever I felt hungry I would ask Schmidt to share whatever he was snacking on. Schmidt is a keen grazer. Sometimes I ate a Snickers bar and washed it down with a sip of beer. I was (and still am) still not a drinker, so a taste of it was enough to drive me to sleep. I rarely dream. But even if dreamlike images arose from my mind, they would have found nowhere to perch on the slippery slopes of my consciousness.