Sunday, June 20, 2010
Chapter I: The Visit
Nord and Elsie live in the Netherlands. It is often cold and dark there. One afternoon at 4 p.m., after the sun had laready made significant progress below the horizon, Elsie showed up at her front door in leg warmers and a paper bag filled with groceries. She proceeded to unlock her door. Nord lived next door. He often worked on personal projects in his one-room apartment with poor window seals. Nord occasionally said hello to Elsie when he had to squeeze by her on his way to work, since the hall between their doors was so narrow that two people with bags could barely fit. On the occasions when he said this, she began to wonder how Nord spent the long winter evenings in his apartment, but she thought better of it and proceeded to greet Gerta, her cat. During a wind-storm (which happened frequently since this was the Netherlands, which is a peninsula surrounded by water on three sides), the whole house moaned like a wet chickadee who has lost his mother and will not be consoled by peanut butter sandwiches (which is often what two partially unemployed artists could afford). Nord and Elsie kept to themselves on such occassions. Christmas was near and Nord bought a wreath. Elsie bought a Christmas tree, the tiny boughs blanketed in bales of snow. She pinched the top in the foyer door. Nord found her taking a rest on the stoop, mountains of powder hiding her all but her flaming red cheeks from view. Nord wanted to make chicken soup. He was starving. He saw her and proceeded to open the door and drag her tree up the three flights with one gloved fist. He dropped the snowy evergreen sapling in frong of her door and bid her a good afternoon. She expressed gratitude and proceeded to drag the melting tree into her apartment. The sun disappeared and Nord cut carrots and onions and thought about all the water that probably pooled in the hallway as a result of that little tree. The hall smelled like pine trees for days afterwards.