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Verena Mermer: die stimme über den dächern (the voice over the rooftops).

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Review

Excerpt

frida and nino decide to go to the old city. there are hardly any people out. one cleans the street. another smokes while talking on the phone. not far from him one is completely absorbed in her phone call. one is pushing a stroller in front of her. one is standing with another under the arcades and looks around furtively. the two men start ranting quietly about politics. one reapplies her lipstick and looks at her watch. one is in a hurry. he runs as if his life depended on it. and one loses his head. from then on, he carries it under his arm. hardly anyone notices him until headlessly he tries to kiss a woman teetering in his direction on spike heels. then the old people scold and squabble and the young people snicker. and he walks on, topless, until he comes to a repair shop. there his slightly ruptured head is mended with a needle, thread, glue, a bicycle tube patch, and a little bit of patience, like the old soccer ball the children in hazi aslanov küçesi play with, if no car is coming. the man puts his head back on, and nino goes into the pharmacy to buy a package of aspirin.

then nino and frida go into a café for breakfast. because there is no more time to turn around and go home, they both have to get to work after all. the waiter looks familiar from somewhere. he brings tea, bread and cheese, a little dish of honey, and a small plate with butter. they drink slowly out of the pear-shaped glasses. nino plays with the spoon, lets it clink quietly against the rim of the glass. a glance at the time, pay, get a move on: from the café to school. she only has four hours, which strangely fly past like the feathery clouds in the sky. she‘s not herself today. maybe part of her has gone to the clouds, where their thin white feathers caress her face. or to ali?

(frida)

frida rehearses from early to late. she’s not happy. i can’t get anything right today, the others are also out of sorts – voices come in at the wrong time or at the wrong pitch; steps are too big, too small, too clumsy; costumes get tangled and masks fall to the floor; escaping out of me, the text learned by heart gains a life of its own. at nine p.m. the cast decide to step out of their roles onto the street and break open a bottle of wine in the small dive on nizami kücesi. frida doesn’t say much; she drinks too little and smokes too much and only half listens to what the others are saying. late at night she goes home alone; she refrains from lighting another cigarette and walks quickly. between nizami kücesi and her apartment, the heart and brain of a man whose path crosses hers fall into his pants. 3 blocks and 3 changes of the side of the street later, he’s still behind her, keeping a distance of 3 meters and with suspiciously quiet steps. considering everything that’s become reality in the past days and weeks, she even hopes it’s his heart beating in his pants that’s guiding him – then she’ll be able to lose him, probably forever. she goes into the all-night market on the corner and takes her sweet time, picking out 3 each of the fruits and veggies closest to her heart: apples, tomatoes, and red turnips.

but maybe she’s just imagined it all: the headless man, the rehearsal, the wine. they announced it on tv after all: young people who are active in social networks and on the streets have psychological problems. maybe she’s also only imagined the car that is parked in front of her door and that has "KGB" emblazoned on its side in invisible letters.

(pp. 73-76)
© 2015 Residenz Verlag, Salzburg.

English translation by Laura Radosh

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