Like fine sand*


A sublime passage from Agota Kristof‘s “The Third”.

We climb up to the cemetery and sit down on the yellow grass. Everything around us is decaying: the crosses, the trees, the bushes, the flowers. My brother scratches at the earth with his cane and white worms emerge.
My brother says, “Not everything is dead. Those are alive.”
The worms writhe. The sight of them gladdens me. I say, “As soon as you begin to think, you can no longer love life.”
My brother raises my chin with his cane. “Don’t think. Look- have you ever seen such a beautiful sky?”
I look up. The sun sets over the town.
I answer, “No, never. Nowhere else.”
We walk side by side to the castle. We come to a stop in the courtyard at the base of the battlements. My brother climbs the rampart and, when he reaches the top, starts to dance to a music that seems to come from underground. He dances, flailing his arms toward the sky, toward the stars, toward the full and rising moon. A thin silhouette in his long black coat, he advances along the ramparts, dancing, while I follow him from below, running and shouting: “No! Don’t! Stop it! Come down! You’ll fall!”
He comes to a halt above me. “Don’t you remember? We used to climb over the rooftops and we were never afraid of falling.”
“We were young, we didn’t feel the height. Come down!”
He laughs. “Don’t be scared. I won’t fall; I can fly. I fly over the town every night.”
He raises his arms, jumps, and crashes onto the courtyard stones at my feet. I lean over him, take his bald head, his wrinkled face into my hands, and I cry.
His face decomposes, his eyes disappear, and in my hands there is now nothing but an anonymous and disintegrating skull that flows through my fingers like fine sand.


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