We could get you a key, she says. Don’t you want to know who he is, what he does?
But the Commander is no longer of immediate interest to me. I have to make an effort to keep my indifference towards him from showing.
Keep on doing everything exactly the way you were before, Nick says. Don’t change anything. Otherwise they’ll know. He kisses me, watching me all the time. Promise? Don’t slip up.
I put his hand on my belly. It’s happened, I say. I feel it has. A couple of weeks and I’ll be certain.
This I know is wishful thinking.
He’ll love you to death, he says. So will she.
But it’s yours, I say. It will be yours, really. I want it to be.
We don’t pursue this, however.
I can’t, I say to Ofglen. I’m too afraid. Anyway I’d be no good at that, I’d get caught.
I scarcely take the trouble to sound regretful, so lazy have I become.
We could get you out, she says. We can get people out if we really have
to, if they’re in danger. Immediate danger.
The fact is that I no longer want to leave, escape, cross the border to freedom. I want to be here, with Nick, where I can get at him.
Telling this, I’m ashamed of myself. But there’s more to it than that. Even now, I can recognize this admission as a kind of boasting. There’s pride in it, because it demonstrates how extreme and therefore justified it was, for me. How well worth it. It’s like stories of illness and near-death, from which you have recovered; like stories of war. They demonstrate seriousness.
Such seriousness, about a man, then, had not seemed possible to me before.
Some days I was more rational. I did not put it, to myself, in terms of love. I said, I have made a life for myself, here, of a sort. That must have been what the settlers’ wives thought, and women who survived wars, if they still had a man. Humanity is so adaptable, my mother would say. Truly amazing, what people can get used to, as long as there are a few compensations.
It won’t be long now, says Cora, doling out my monthly stack of sanitary napkins. Not long now, smiling at me shyly but also knowingly. Does she know? Do she and Rita know what I’m up to, creeping down their stairs at night? Do I give myself away, daydreaming, smiling at nothing, touching my face lightly when I think they aren’t watching?
Ofglen is giving up on me. She whispers less, talks more about the weather. I do not feel regret about this. I feel relief.