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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 4 chapter 14)

2006-08-22 20:21

  14

  Tereza felt her courage slipping away. Her weakness drove her to despair, but she could do nothing to counteract it. But it wasn't my choice, she said.

  He immediately lowered the barrel of his rifle and said in a gentle voice, If it wasn't your choice, we can't do it. We haven't the right.

  He said it kindly, as if apologizing to Tereza for not being able to shoot her if it was not her choice. His kindness tore at her heartstrings, and she turned her face to the bark of the tree and burst into tears.

  Her whole body racked with sobs, she embraced the tree as if it were not a tree, as if it were her long-lost father, a grandfather she had never known, a great-grandfather, a great-great-grandfather, a hoary old man come to her from the depths of time to offer her his face in the form of rough tree bark.

  Then she turned her head. The three men were far off in the distance by then, wandering across the greensward like golfers. The one with the rifle even held it like a golf club.

  Walking down the paths of Petrin Hill, she could not wean her thoughts from the man who was supposed to shoot her but did not. Oh, how she longed for him! Someone had to help her, after all! Tomas wouldn't. Tomas was sending her to her death. Someone else would have to help her!

  The closer she got to the city, the more she longed for the man with the rifle and the more she feared Tomas. He would never forgive her for failing to keep her word. He would never forgive her her cowardice, her betrayal. She had come to the street where they lived, and knew she would see him in a minute or two. She was so afraid of seeing him that her stomach was in knots and she thought she was going to be sick.

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