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The Unbearable Lightness of Being (part 2 chapter 10)

2006-08-22 19:24

  10

  He called her back to pay for the cognac. He closed his book (the emblem of the secret brotherhood), and she thought of asking him what he was reading.

  Can you have it charged to my room? he asked.

  Yes, she said. What number are you in?

  He showed her his key, which was attached to a piece of wood with a red six drawn on it.

  That's odd, she said. Six.

  What's so odd about that? he asked.

  She had suddenly recalled that the house where they had lived in Prague before her parents were divorced was number six. But she answered something else (which we may credit to her wiles): You're in room six and my shift ends at six.

  Well, my train leaves at seven, said the stranger.

  She did not know how to respond, so she gave him the bill for his signature and took it over to the reception desk. When she finished work, the stranger was no longer at his table. Had he understood her discreet message? She left the restaurant in a state of excitement.

  Opposite the hotel was a barren little park, as wretched as only the park of a dirty little town can be, but for Tereza it had always been an island of beauty: it had grass, four poplars, benches, a weeping willow, and a few forsythia bushes.

  He was sitting on a yellow bench that afforded a clear view of the restaurant entrance. The very same bench she had sat on the day before with a book in her lap! She knew then (the birds of fortuity had begun alighting on her shoulders) that this stranger was her fate. He called out to her, invited her to sit next to him. (The crew other soul rushed up to the deck other body.) Then she walked him to the station, and he gave her his card as a farewell gesture. If ever you should happen to come to Prague……

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