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                双语有声阅读 | 不存在的女儿(节选)

                2019-12-16 16:13:40  每日学英语

                The Memory Keeper's Daughter





                The snow started to fall several hours before her labor began. A few flakes first, in the dull gray late-afternoon sky, and then wind-driven swirls and eddies around the edges of their wide front porch. He stood by her side at the window, watching sharp gusts of snow billow, then swirl and drift to the ground. All around the neighborhood, lights came on, and the naked branches of the trees turned white.


                After dinner he built a fire, venturing out into the weather for wood he had piled against the garage the previous autumn. The air was bright and cold against his face, and the snow in the driveway was already halfway to his knees. He gathered logs, shaking off their soft white caps and carrying them inside. The kindling in the iron grate caught fire immediately, and he sat for a time on the hearth, cross-legged, adding logs and watching the flames leap, blue-edged and hypnotic. Outside, snow continued to fall quietly through the darkness, as bright and thick as static in the cones of light cast by the streetlights. By the time he rose and looked out the window, their car had become a soft white hill on the edge of the street. Already his footprints in the driveway had filled and disappeared.

                晚餐后,他生了一炉火。他鼓起勇气走入风雪中,去拿秋季堆积在车库旁边的柴火。冷冽的寒风打着他的脸颊,车道上的积雪已经深及腿肚。他捡起木头,抖去上面松软的白雪,抱着木头走回屋内。壁炉里的火㊣ 花马上引燃熊熊火光,他在壁炉前盘腿坐了一会,一面添加木头,一面看着火花跃动,火焰周围带着一圈蓝光,令人昏昏欲睡。屋外,白雪在黑暗中静静地持续飘落,在街灯的照耀下,既静谧,又明亮、厚实。等到他起身往窗外一看,他们的车已经变成街角的一座白色小山丘,先前印在车道上的脚印已被填满,不见踪迹。

                He brushed ashes from his hands and sat on the sofa beside his wife, her feet propped on pillows, her swollen ankles crossed, a copy of Dr. Spock balanced on her belly. Absorbed, she licked her index finger absently each time she turned a page. Her hands were slender, her fingers short and sturdy, and she bit her bottom lip lightly, intently, as she read. Watching her, he felt a surge of love and wonder: that she was his wife, that their baby, due in just three weeks, would soon be born. Their first child, this would be. They had been married just a year.


                She looked up, smiling, when he tucked the blanket around her legs. "You know, I’ve been wondering what it's like,"she said. "Before we're bom, I mean. It's too bad we can't remember." She opened her robe and pulled up the sweater she wore underneath, revealing a belly as round and hard as a melon. She ran her hand across its smooth surface, firelight playing across her skin, casting reddish gold onto her hair. "Do you suppose it's like being inside a great lantern? The book says light-permeates my skin, that the baby can already see."


                "I don't know,"he said.


                She laughed. "Why not?" she asked. "You’re the doctor."


                "I'm just an orthopedic surgeon," he reminded her. "I could tell you the ossification pattern for fetal bones, but that's about it."He lifted her foot, both delicate and swollen inside the light blue sock, and began to massage it gently: the powerful tarsal bone of her heel, the metatarsals and the phalanges,hidden beneath skin and densely layered muscles like a fan about to open. Her breathing filled the quiet room, her foot warmed his hands, and he imagined the perfect, secret, symmetry of bones. In pregnancy she seemed to him beautiful but fragile, fine blue veins faintly visible through her pale white skin.


                It had been an excellent pregnancy,without medical restrictions. Even so, he had not been able to make love to her for several months. He found himself wanting to protect her instead, to carry her up flights of stairs, to wrap her in blankets, to bring her cups of custard. "I’m not an invalid," she protested each time, laughing. "I’m not some fledgling you discovered on the lawn." Still, she was pleased by his attentions. Sometimes he woke and watched her as she slept: the flutter of her eyelids, the slow even movement of her chest, her outflung hand, small enough that he could enclose it completely with his own.


                She was eleven years younger than he was. He had first seen her not much more than a year ago, as she rode up an escalator in a department store downtown, one gray November Saturday while he was buying ties. He was thirty-three years old and new to Lexington, Kentucky, and she had risen out of the crowd like some kind of vision, her blond hair swept back in an elegant chignon, pearls glimmering at her throat and on her ears. She was wearing a coat of dark green wool, and her skin was clear and pale. He stepped onto the escalator, pushing his way upward through the crowd, struggling to keep her in sight. She went to the fourth floor, lingerie and hosiery. When he tried to follow her through aisles dense with racks of slips and brassieres and panties, all glimmering softly, a sales clerk in a navy blue dress with a white collar stopped him, smiling, to ask if she could help. A robe, he said, scanning the aisles until he caught sight of her hair, a dark green shoulder, her Gent head revealing the elegant pale curve of her neck. A robe for my sister who lives in New Orleans. He had no sister, of course, or any living family that he acknowledged.


                The clerk disappeared and came back a moment later with three robes in sturdy terry cloth. He chose blindly, hardly glancing down, taking the one on top. Three sizes, the clerk was saying, and a better selection of colors next month, but he was already in the aisle, a coral-colored robe draped over his arm, his shoes squeaking on the tiles as he moved impatiently between the other shoppers to where she stood.


                She was shuffling through the stacks of expensive stockings, sheer colors shining through slick cellophane windows: taupe, navy, a maroon as dark as pig’s blood. The sleeve of her green coat brushed his and he smelled her perfume, something delicate and yet pervasive, something like the dense pale petals of lilacs outside the window of the student rooms he' d once occupied in Pittsburgh. The squat windows of his basement apartment were always grimy, opaque with steel-factory soot and ash, but in the spring there were lilacs blooming, sprays of white and lavender pressing against the glass, their scent drifting in like light.