Renata said: I’ve never seen Rheinhardt use more than one match to light a fire. When I break a glass he tells me I’ve lost control. Just watch him come through the door, every night, punctually, six minutes after the 5:38 gets in. He wasn’t always the way he is. Before he came to this country, his paintings were violent. The villages were orange, the trees were blue. Then, when Hitler came to power, the canvases turned black. He was a teacher to support himself. Did you know that? But first they took the history books away and then they took the literature away. He turned to music but one night somebody smashed the instruments and finally gym was scheduled where they once had art. When they took the children away Rheinhardt tried to kill Hitler. Hitler was supposed to address the greater East Prussian conference of high school teachers and Rheinhardt sat in the front row with his father’s old revolver. But Hitler never came.
Renata stopped speaking. First she looked at me, then she looked at the mirror on the wall. She looked at the mirror on the wall for a long time and then she turned away and her eyes wandered around the room. It was the living/dining room, there were musical instruments and paintings everywhere but she did not seem to notice them. She raised a hand to her eyes as though a bright light were blinding her and when she took her hand away her eyes had nailed her expression to the mystery of whatever she was trying to tell me. She didn’t move at all. She said You’re fourteen now, it’s time you knew. But then it was 5:44, the door opened, Renata stood up, and shutting my eyes I tried to imagine what it would be like to fly into Rheinhardt’s arms.