Click here to Download The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld Language English having PDF Size 1.1 MB and No of Pages 202.
I was ten and stopped taking off my coat. That morning, Mum had covered us one by one in udder ointment to protect us from the cold. It came out of a yellow Bogena tin and was normally used to prevent dairy cows’ teats from getting cracks, calluses and cauliflower-like lumps. The tin’s lid was so greasy you could only screw it off with a tea-towel.
The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book by Marieke Lucas Rijneveld
|Name of Book||The Discomfort of Evening|
|PDF Size||1.1 MB|
|No of Pages||202|
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It smelled of stewed udder, the thick slices I’d sometimes find cooking in a pan of stock on our stove, sprinkled with salt and pepper. They filled me with horror, just like the reeking ointment on my skin. Mum pressed her fat fingers into our faces like the round cheeses she patted to check whether the rind was ripening. Our pale cheeks shone in the light of the kitchen bulb, which was encrusted with fly shit.
For years we’d been planning to get a lampshade, a pretty one with flowers, but whenever we saw one in the village, Mum could never make up her mind. She’d been doing this for three years now. That morning, two days before Christmas, I felt her slippery thumbs in my eye sockets and for a moment I was afraid she’d press too hard, that my eyeballs would plop into my skull like marbles, and she’d say.
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‘That’s what happens when your eyes are always roaming and you never keep them still like a true believer, gazing up at God as though the heavens might break open at any moment.’ But the heavens here only broke open for a snowstorm – nothing to keep staring at like an idiot. In the middle of the breakfast table there was a woven bread-basket lined with a napkin decorated with Christmas angels.
They were holding trumpets and twigs of mistletoe protectively in front of their willies. Even if you held the napkin up to the light of the bulb you couldn’t see what they looked like – my guess was rolled-up slices of luncheon meat. Mum had arranged the bread neatly on the napkin: white, wholemeal with poppy seeds, and currant loaf.
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She’d used a sieve to carefully sprinkle icing sugar onto the crispy back of the loaf, like the first light snow that had fallen onto the backs of the blazed cows in the meadow before we drove them inside. The bread-bag’s plastic clip was kept on top of the biscuit tin: we’d lose it otherwise and Mum didn’t like the look of a knot in a plastic bag. ‘Meat or cheese first before you go for the sweet stuff,’ she’d always say.
This was the rule and it would make us big and strong, as big as the giant Goliath and as strong as Samson in the Bible. We always had to drink a large glass of fresh milk as well; it had usually been out of the tank for a couple of hours and was lukewarm, and sometimes there was a yellowish layer of cream that stuck to the top of your mouth if you drank too slowly.
The best thing was to gulp down the whole glass of milk with your eyes closed, something Mum called ‘irreverent’ although there’s nothing in the Bible about drinking milk slowly, or about eating a cow’s body. I took a slice of white bread from the basket and put it on my plate upside down so that it looked just like a pale toddler’s bum, even more convincing when partly spread with chocolate spread, which never failed to amuse me and my brothers, and they’d always say. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book
‘Are you arse-licking again?’ ‘The urge went away,’ I said. I pulled my pants back up and put my overalls back on, closed my coat and zipped it up to my chin. I could hold in my poo. I wouldn’t have to lose anything I wanted to keep from now on. Dad stamped out his butt on a molehill. ‘Drink lots of water, that helps with the calves too. Otherwise it will come out the other end one day.’
He laid his hand on my head, and I tried to walk as upright as I could beneath it. Now there were two things I’d have to watch out for at both ends. We walked back to the tractor. The new bit of land was older than me and yet it continued to be called that. It was like the way there used to be a doctor living at the bottom of the dike where there was now a playground with a bumpy slide, which we still called the Old Doctor’s when arranging play dates.
‘Do you think worms and maggots are going to eat Matthies?’ I asked my father as we walked back. I didn’t dare look at him. Dad had once read out from Isaiah, ‘All your pomp has been brought down to the grave, along with the noise of your harps; maggots are spread out beneath you and worms cover you,’ and now I was worried this would happen to my brother too. Dad tugged open the tractor’s door without answering me. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book
I feverishly pictured my brother’s body full of holes like strawberry matting. When we arrived at the mangels, some of them were rotten. The mushy white pulp that looked like pus stuck to my fingers when I picked them up. Dad tossed them nonchalantly over his shoulder into the trailer. They made a dull thud. Whenever he looked at me I felt my cheeks burning. We had to agree upon times when my parents couldn’t look at me.
I thought, the same as with the TV. Perhaps that was why Matthies didn’t come home that day – because the doors to the TV cabinet were closed and no one was keeping an eye on us. I didn’t dare ask my father any more questions about Matthies and threw the last mangel into the trailer, taking my place next to him in the cabin afterwards. There was a sticker on the rusty rim above the rearview mirror that said MILK THE COW, NOT THE FARMER.
He drops Tiesey into the glass of water, covers it with his hand and begins to move it slowly back and forth. I can’t help laughing, it looks funny. Everything you can turn into a maths sum has a reassuring solution – I bet he’ll need to breathe again after one minute. The hamster moves faster and faster from one side of the glass to the other. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book
Its eyes beginning to pop out, its legs kicking about wildly. It’s only a few seconds before he starts to float like a grey air bubble in a spirit level. No one speaks. All we can hear are the butterflies flapping their wings. Then Hanna begins to cry with great sobs. There are footsteps on the stairs almost immediately. Startled, Obbe quickly puts the glass behind his Lego castle where the enemy is holding a ceasefire.
‘What’s going on?’ Dad pushes open the door and looks around in irritation. My cheeks are red. Hanna is lying in a ball on the grey bedcovers. ‘Jas pushed Hanna off the bed,’ Obbe says. He looks me in the face. Nothing noticeable in his eyes. No air bubble being kept level. They’re as dry as a bone. When Dad’s looking the other way, Obbe briefly opens his mouth and pushes his finger in and out as though he needs to throw up.
I quickly slide off the bed. ‘Right,’ Dad says, ‘off to your bedroom, you, and pray.’ His shoe hits my bum; the poo stuck up it might have shot back up into my intestines now. When Mum learns the truth about Tiesey she’ll get depressed again and won’t speak for days. I glance at Hanna and Obbe one last time, then the Lego castle. My brother is suddenly busy with his butterfly collection. He probably just beat them out of the air with his bare hands. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book Download
I lie with my face to the wall, which has a black-and-white poster of Boudewijn de Groot on it, the one with the lonely cyclist on a narrow mountain track with a child on the front of his bike. Sometimes, before I go to sleep I fantasize that I’m the child and Mum is riding the bike, even though Mum doesn’t like cycling, as she’s much too afraid of getting her dress caught in the spokes, and we’ll never get so lonely that we end up on the same path.
When I turn over, Hanna lays the popcorn between us. It sticks to my bottom sheet right away. We take a piece in turn. A verse from Proverbs pops into my head: ‘To do justice and judgement is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.’ I can’t resist this sacrifice as we rarely have popcorn, and I know that Hanna means well because she gets this guilty look on her face.
Her eyes raised, like the pastor when he’s listing the sins of the community and looks up at the ceiling that’s just been whitewashed. From time to time, my hand arrives too late and I’ll touch Hanna’s fingers and feel her bitten-off nails. They’re set deep in red-ringed flesh, chunks of white fat in a sausage. I only have a problem with black dirt stuck under mine. Hanna says my nails are going black because I think about death too much. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book Download
I immediately picture Tiesey’s bulging eyes, the emptiness that settled inside my head when he stopped treading water, and then the blow, the all-destructive silence of an ending, of an empty wheel. As Hanna eats the last of the popcorn and talks about the new Barbie she wants, I realize that I’ve had my hands folded under my duvet for a while. Maybe God’s been waiting for half an hour already for what I’m going to say.
I unfold my hands: falling silent is also a way of saying something in the village. We don’t have answering machines, but we do let long silences fall, silences in which sometimes you can hear the cows lowing in the background or the whistle of a kettle. ‘She’s our solution,’ Hanna says. She turns onto her side so she can look me in the face. In the light of my globe, her nose looks like a capsized sailing boat.
She has the kind of beauty you rarely see, like the drawings she does with crayons: they’re lopsided and crooked and that’s what gives them their beauty, their naturalness. ‘One day she was rescued from her tower. We need a rescuer. Someone to take us away from this ridiculous village, from Dad and Mum, from Obbe, from ourselves.’ I nod, it’s a good plan. The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book Free
Only my hair comes down to just under my ears and it will be years before it’s long enough for someone to climb up with. Aside from that, the highest point here on the farm is the hayloft, and you can just get up there with a ladder. ‘And to get you out of your coat,’ Hanna continues. She runs her sticky fingers through my hair. I can smell the salty odour of popcorn. She moves them across my head, drumming, the way the tickling insects often push against my skin.
I never touch Hanna, only when she asks me to. It doesn’t occur to me to. You’ve got two kinds of people, those who hold on and those who let go. I belong to the second category. I can only hold on to a person or a memory with the things I collect. I can safely stow them away in my coat pocket. I jolt awake in the middle of the night. My duvet feels clammy with sweat, and the planets and moons on it seem to give off less light.
Or maybe they give off the same amount of light but it’s no longer enough for me, as the effect is gradually fading. I push away the damp duvet and sit on the edge of my bed. Immediately my body begins to shiver beneath the thin fabric of my pyjamas, and the draught that comes under the door grabs me by the ankles. I pull the duvet over my shoulders and think about the nightmare I had, in which my parents were lying under the ice like two frozen eels. Which Farmer Evertsen sometimes gives us, wrapped up in the Reformist Daily. Dad always used to say, ‘Wrapped up in God’s words they taste even better.’ The Discomfort of Evening PDF Book Free