The Daughter

In the evenings they waited for Monika. She has been working in the city. The train connections were bad. They, he and his wife, sat at the table and waited for Monika. Since she been working in the city, they have been eating as late as 7:30. Previously, they had eaten an hour earlier. Now every day they’ve been waiting for hour at the table in their places, the father at the head, the mother on a chair near the kitchen door. They have been waiting in front of Moinika’s empty place. Some time later they’ve been waiting before the steaming coffee, the butter, the bread and the jelly.

She had grown taller than them. She was also blonder and had the skin, the fine skin of her Aunt Maria. “She always was a dear child”, her mother said while she was waiting.

In her room she had a record player, and she often brought records from the city. And she knew who sang on them. She also had a mirror and various little bottles and boxes, a stool of Morrocan leather, a box of cigarettes.

Her father also picked up his paycheck from a female clerk. He then saw the many rubber stamps on a rack, was amazed by the gentle sound of the adding machine, the blond-dyed hair of the woman. She warmly said “your welcome” when he thanked her.

During the lunch hour Monica remained in the city. She ate a little something, as she put it, in the tea room. She was then a young woman who smoked smilingly.

Often they asked her all that she had done when she went to work in the city. She didn’t know what to say.

Then they at least attempted to imagine precisely how she casually would flip open her red case with her ticket and show it, how she walks along the platform, how she talks excitedly with her girlfriends on the way to the office, how she smilingly returns the greetings of a gentleman.

Several times within the hour they would imagine her returning home, her purse and fashion magazine under her arm, her perfume; imagine how she would sit down in her place, how they would then all eat together.

They knew that she would soon find a room in the city and that they would agin eat at 6:30, that the father would again read his newspaper after work, that there wouldn’t any longer be a room with a record player, no longer an hour of waiting. On the cabinet stood a vase of blue Swedish glass, a vase from the city, a gift suggestion from the fashion magazine.

“She is like your sister”, his wife said. “She does everything your sister does. Remember how beautifully your sister could sing.”

“Other girls also smoke”, the mother said.

“Yes”, he said. “I also said that.”

“Her girlfriend recently got married”, the mother said.

She will also marry, he thought. She will live in the city.

Recently he had asked Monika: “Say something in French.”

“Yes”, the mother had repeated. “Say something in French.” But she didn’t know what to say.

She can also take shorthand, he now thought. “That would be too difficult for us”, they often said to one another.

Then the mother placed the coffee on the table. “I heard the train”, she said.