We Don't Live Here Anymore

Three Novellas

By Andre Dubus

2 Readers

John

Emily


Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

He wishes Lori ran. He has never had a woman who did... Running is the most intimate part of his friendship with Jack. Hank does not understand precisely why this is true. Perhaps it has something to do with the rhythm of their feet and breath. But there is more: it is, Hank thinks, setting free the flesh: as they approach the bend marking the second mile, the road staying by the lake and moving deeper into the woods which arise farther and farther to their right, he is no longer distracted by anything: he sees the lake and road and woods and Jack's swinging arms and reaching legs as he could never see them if he were simply walking, or standing still. It is this: even in lovemaking the body can become a voyeur of its own pleasure. But in the willful exertion of running, nothing can distract the flesh from itself.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

When his spirit is low, when he can barely feel it at all, juts something damp and flat lying over his guts, when even speaking and eating demand effort, and he wants to lie down and let the world spin while he yearns for days of unconsciousness, he does not drink. The only cure then is a long run. It does not destroy what is attacking him, but it restores his spirit, and he can move into the world again, look at people, touch them, talk.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

The point was, finally, that Donna did not read. He guessed all men did not have to love women who were interested in their work... But he could not. Literature was what he turned to for passion and excitement, where he entered a world of questions he could not answer, so he finished a novel or poem or story feeling blessed with humility, with awe of life, with the knowledge that he knew so little about how one was supposed to live. So, better to have the company of a girl who loved literature and simply had not read much because she was young, far more exciting to listen to a girl's delight at her first reading of Play It As it Lays or Fat City, than to be with a woman in her thirties who did not read because she had chosen not to, had gone to the magazines and television.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

He drank in his bedroom, at his desk but with his back to it, and he listened to Dylan, the angry songs about women... and he started his cure: he focused on every one of her flaws, and with booze and will and Dylan's hurt and angry encouragement, he multiplied them by emotion until they grew so out of proportion that he could no longer see what he had loved about her.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

Hank needed and loved men, and when he loved them it was because of what they thought and how they lived. He did not measure women that way; he measured them by their sexuality and good sense. He and his friends talked with one another because it was the only way they could show their love; they might reach out and take a woman's hand and stroke it while they leaned forward, talking to men; and their conversations were fields of mutual praise.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

He spoke so seriously, almost reverently, about making a bed, eating some eggs, and reading a newspaper, that at first Edith was amused; but she stifled it and asked him what was happening during that hour and a half of quiet morning. He said, That's it: quiet: silence. While his body woke he absorbed silence.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

It was a matter of ritual, he told her. It had to do with his work. He did not want to wake up with someone (he said someone, not you) and then drive home to his own room where he would start the morning's work. What he liked to do, he said (already she could see he sometimes confused like to with have to) was spend his first wakeful time of the day alone. In his room, each working morning, he first made his bed and cleared his desk of mail and books, then while he made his coffee and cooked bacon and eggs on the hot plate he read the morning paper; he read through the meal and afterward while he drank coffee and smoked. By the time he had finished the paper and washed the dishes in the bathroom he had been awake for an hour and a half. Then, with the reluctance which began as he reached the final pages of the newspaper, he sat at his desk and started to work.

Comment ·

Emily Koh We Don't Live Here Anymore

Last summer it took the house about five weeks to beat her: she fought hard but without resilience; she lost a series of skirmishes, attacks from under beds, from closets, the stove, the vegetable bin, the laundry basket. Finally she had lost everything and since then she has waked every day in her old fashion which will be hers forever: she wakes passively, without a plan; she waits to see what the day will bring, and so it brings her its worst: pots and clothes and floors wait to be cleaned. We are your day, they tell her.

Comment ·