水晶碗

小说
悉尼帕里什


图片来源:Liz West/Flickr(抄送人)

奥黛丽·莫里斯感觉到要下雨时,已经是晚上八点左右了。八月的浓浓空气像热气一样粘在她的皮肤上,使她的肺充满了令人窒息的温暖。虽然已经很晚了,但天空是一片充满活力的蓝色,这通常让奥黛丽对儿时无忧无虑的暑假充满了渴望和怀念。奥黛丽在人行横道上等着三辆发光的黄色出租车经过。她发现自己几乎无法鼓起耐心,因为她害怕在即将到来的第一滴雨中被抓在外面。在她头顶上,灰色的风暴云若隐若现,威胁着要把城市笼罩在浓雾中,抹去夏天垃圾的顽固恶臭。当她到达位于列克星敦大街的大楼时,她一只手在包周围摸钥匙,另一只手擦去额头上的汗珠。门闩咔嗒一声打开,冷风温柔地抚摸着她。

前门后面的小收发室几乎总是空的。她的邻居,一对老夫妇和一个沉默寡言的年轻艺术家,很少离开他们的公寓,几乎从来没有收到包裹或信件。这就是为什么奥黛丽被一个不寻常的景象吓了一跳:邮箱脚下有一个棕色的盒子。虽然她自己也没指望什么,但她还是跪下来好奇地检查了一下包裹。她的名字和地址用蓝墨水清楚地印在标签上,而回信地址的空白处则留着。奥黛丽咧嘴笑了。她把盒子举在头上,从各个角度仔细检查,寻找发信人的线索,但她的搜索只找到了用同样的蓝墨水写的“易碎”一词。不管怎样,当她走上两段楼梯到自己的公寓时,脑子里充满了关于里面是什么以及可能是谁的幻想。有没有一个她认识的人爱上了她,却不敢亲自面对她?她绞尽脑汁寻找一个秘密崇拜者的可能身份。

一到楼梯口,她就急匆匆地走进自己的公寓,门一直没有锁,她小心翼翼地把箱子放在小餐桌上。奥黛丽把钱包扔在椅子上,打开窗户,让微风拂面而过。这间公寓是一间狭小闷热的工作室,虽然这是她所能负担得起的,但这正是奥黛丽一直以来对自己第一间公寓的想象。她冲向厨房,想找一把切盒子的刀,但发现用削皮刀也行。她蹲在包裹上,小心翼翼地把胶带从盒子中间和四周裁下来。她剥开纸板的封盖,揭开里面包裹着厚厚一层泡泡纸的物品。她把它举到眼睛的高度。它很重,和她的头差不多大,没有明显的颜色可以辨认。她小心地脱下衣服,把泡泡纸扔到地板上。她红润的脸色很快就褪去了。她手里拿着一个水晶碗。她愣住了一会儿,怀疑地盯着礼物。她两眼盯着碗,慢慢地把它放在桌子上,在旁边坐下。奥黛丽又往盒子里看了看,想从送礼人那里得到一张纸条,但没有找到。

她第一次看到这个碗差不多是一年前在市中心的一家商店里。她和她的朋友玛格丽特正在做他们通常有几个小时空闲时间做的事情:走进每一家吸引他们眼球的商店,什么也不买。奥黛丽总是欣赏别人的东西。然而,她从不承担她认为不必要和表面的费用。事实上,她的公寓和衣柜完全没有任何装饰或风格,因为她从以前的房客那里买了所有的家具,很少屈从于拥有漂亮东西的欲望。尽管如此,当她穿过摆满昂贵艺术家具的商店时,她还是忍不住要假装这都是她的。她清楚地记得水晶碗。它孤零零地坐在一个架子上,从橱窗里射进来阳光。

“Margaret, look!” Audrey said, as she gently picked up the bowl and held it to the light. The honeycomb pattern etched on its exterior diffracted the sunlight like a massive diamond in her hands.

“非常漂亮。”玛格丽特从一排瓷器上抬起眼睛,看了一会儿。“你最好别掉下来。”

无视朋友的评论,奥黛丽用手指描摹着碗的弧度。“我甚至不知道我会在里面放什么,但我觉得我可以像我一样偷这个have奥黛丽微笑着,眼睛始终没有离开闪闪发光的水晶。

“Maybe cherries. Seems like a good bowl for cherries.” Margaret walked up next to her friend. “Can you imagine what people would say when they came over? ‘Where did Audrey get such a beautiful thing? Someone must have died for her to have it,’” she said with feigned affect. The girls laughed and Audrey reluctantly set down the bowl.

“为什么是樱桃?她咯咯笑着,眼睛盯着门边的朋友。

他们振作起来,回到炎热的夏天,回到了住宅区。第二天左右,女孩们计划在东河边的一家咖啡馆见面喝咖啡。三年来,两个女孩一直是朋友,她们几乎形影不离,星期天喝咖啡成了例行公事。那天下午,奥黛丽先到了那里,点了咖啡,在靠窗的角落里找到了她最喜欢的地方。她在桌上放了一本书,等着她的朋友,尽管她很清楚玛格丽特几乎从不迟到。三十分钟过去了,在这期间,奥黛丽的眼睛不断地跳出窗外寻找她失踪的同伴。有一次她在那里呆了一个小时,奥黛丽沮丧地合上她的书,走在河边回家。虽然这和她的朋友不一样,奥黛丽还是说服自己,玛格丽特一定是忘了。

Audrey called Margaret as soon as she reached her apartment, ready to tease her friend and demand a coffee in compensation for her time. However, the phone on the other end of the line kept ringing until Audrey finally hung up—stung with chagrin. She sank down in her chair overwhelmed by the sudden awareness that she was alone. Audrey was simultaneously stricken with indignation and with a sense of responsibility for her friend’s action. She had been abandoned by her friend because of something she unknowingly did and the damage was irreversible. She reluctantly swallowed the idea that she was simply unwanted. Unable to bear humiliating herself further, Audrey decided not to call Margaret again.

后来,在他们上次在一起一个月后的一天,当奥黛丽在联合广场农贸市场闲逛时,她找到了玛格丽特。她站在离奥黛丽只有十英尺远的地方,穿着一件熟悉的橘黄色毛衣,正在浏览蔬菜。奥黛丽看着玛格丽特在没有她的情况下享受着星期六的快乐,头都在抽搐。她不知道自己盯着她看了多久,最后玛格丽特抬起头来,眼睛盯着奥黛丽的眼睛。奥黛丽吓了一跳,满脸通红,在寻找正确的话语时,嘴巴半掩着。不过,玛格丽特显然也被朋友的突然出现吓了一跳,立刻转移视线,迅速逃到另一个摊位。奥黛丽的双腿锁在原地,全身酸痛。一百声谈话声、小贩叫卖声、远处汽车鸣笛声,都像不和谐的管弦乐队里的钹声一样轰鸣。她傻傻地站在那里,看着她的朋友走进人群,又一次消失了。

从那天起,奥黛丽没有看到玛格丽特。Despite knowing Margaret would not call, for weeks she held her breath as she checked her answering machine whenever she reached home. Each time she did, she was washed over by a wave of embarrassment with her own naïve hope that maybe she would hear Margaret’s voice again. When she walked by their café, she would peer inside, halfheartedly expecting to catch a glimpse of her friend’s curled brown hair. More than a few times, she was so sure she had seen her. Her pulse would quicken, and her eyes would instinctively veer away. She would try to contort her face to seem as nonchalant as possible, then turn back to realize her ghostly friend had vanished. She imagined speaking to her again countless times. Sometimes she would confidently march up to Margaret and demand an explanation. Filled with fury and holding back tears, she would launch into a tirade of accusations. Other times, she imagined sitting limply in front of Margaret and begging to know what she had done to deserve such a cold departure. The insecurities ravaged her mind not only in her waking thoughts, but in her nightmares, where Margaret delivered cryptic answers or none at all. Audrey wondered if others perhaps found her too insensitive or inconsiderate to understand the tacit laws of friendship. Perhaps Margaret simply did not find her worthwhile.

几个月来,她为失去她所珍视的友谊而悲伤,并怀疑她是否值得拥有另一个真正的朋友。然而,随着时间的推移,痛苦和悲伤变成了轻蔑的拒绝。她反复对自己说,既然她和玛格丽特不是注定要做朋友的,她应该更高兴些。到现在为止,距离他们上次谈话已经一年了,玛格丽特的想法很少出现在她的脑海里。她结交了其他的好朋友,开始了一份新工作,从此和男友分手了。她的生活一点也不像一年前那样,她已经从被朋友抛弃的痛苦中痊愈了。

但是现在这个碗。为什么他们一年没说话就发这个?尤其是在决定友谊结束的人。奥黛丽怒火中烧。她盯着那只碗,在公寓的灯光下,碗不再像钻石一样闪闪发光。一想到要打电话给玛格丽特向她道谢,奥黛丽的身体就一阵恐慌,玛格丽特可能连电话都不接,这只会加深她的焦虑。有一段时间,她一直坐在椅子上盯着碗。她两眼呆滞,脑子里浮现出这样一个画面:玛格丽特用泡泡纸小心地包着碗,用蓝笔在包裹上刻上奥黛丽的名字。

她的肚子一歪,她突然僵硬地站起来,好像不是出于自己的意愿。她走到书桌旁的床头柜前,用手指抚摸着她放着的三个相框的顶部。她拿起一个相框,里面有一张她和三个朋友在市区一家餐馆的照片。奥黛丽浏览了一下照片。她已经好几个月没和这些女孩说话了。事实上,这可能是他们最后一次在一起了。她把它翻过来,把相框的背面扔到床上,露出后面藏着的第二张照片。她把它从镜框里拿出来,小心翼翼地抓住边缘。玛格丽特和她并肩站着,玛格丽特深情地捧着奥黛丽的脸颊。奥黛丽仔细端详着他们脸上挂满笑容的表情,一个淡淡的微笑悄悄地出现在她脸上。她记得那天晚上他们喝酒讲故事的时间,第二天他们打电话抱怨头痛的时间。她嘴角的笑容渐渐消失了。她瞥了一眼碗,然后又看了看玛格丽特喜气洋洋的脸。她觉得自己像一年前站在农贸市场上一样赤裸和愚蠢。

当奥黛丽拿着照片时,她心中充满了难以言喻的仇恨。她的眼睛紧盯着玛格丽特的脸。她看得越久,就越容易记住她朋友的特质。她又一次听到玛格丽特尖声的笑声,她看见她正在剥落的蓝色指甲油,想起她冬天穿的淡粉色外套。奥黛丽用出汗的手指紧握着照片。她勃然大怒,想抹去玛格丽特的形象。然而,奥黛丽知道她永远不会忘记她的朋友。她把照片放回另一张的后面,合上相框。奥黛丽不经意间屏住了呼吸,然后倒在床上。她闭上眼睛,听着城市的喧闹声。轮胎在沥青路面上飞驰,偶尔会刺穿树枝有节奏地拍打着她的窗户。尽管她对纽约的烦躁不安情有独钟,但她的心有时会因一时的宁静而疼痛。当她睁开眼睛时,她的目光又一次锁定在碗上,碗在下面的桌子上投下了一个幽灵般的黄色光环。

转眼间,她在厨房翻抽屉,突然发现一卷包装胶带。奥黛丽停顿了一下,然后把碗放回盒子里,从地板上捡起一小块泡泡纸,摇摇晃晃地扔在上面。当她把包装带绕在箱子上时,手指颤抖着,笨拙地又一次把里面的东西封好了。她停下来,停下来用手背擦了擦湿了的眼睛。她急忙把箱子抬出公寓,走进大楼的走廊。她感到碗的重量在盒子里移动。她的脉搏在她的耳朵里大声跳动,她走到垃圾压实机和犹豫,紧握她的下巴。她想起玛格丽特坐在餐桌旁,从碗里摘着闪闪发光的红樱桃。

她拉下垃圾槽的门,慢慢地把箱子放进去。她一把门关上,箱子就会掉到两层楼高,压实机就会把它永远从她的生活中驱逐出去。她的胃痛。奥黛丽的母亲一直认为玛格丽特是个可爱的女孩。她想象母亲会多么崇拜水晶碗。“多体贴的礼物啊!”

Audrey clung to the handle of the door. She suddenly felt so tired—every muscle seemed to ache synchronously. Her body wanted to submit to Margaret’s cryptic kindness—to rescue the bowl and place it on a shelf and simply forget about it. However, she knew that she would not forget. Every time she would look at the big glistening diamond, she would see Margaret standing over vegetables at the farmer’s market. She would feel as small, transparent, and as completely alone as she did now. She would always wonder what she had done to render herself undeserving of a friend she adored. She shut the door—grimacing as she heard a muted shattering from the bottom of the chute. In that moment, fear and adrenaline jolted through her body while salty tears slid silently off her chin. The churning of her stomach had finally stopped, and from somewhere unknown place inside her, a loud and sharp laugh lurched out of her throat. She clasped at her open mouth and felt her wet cheeks.

奥黛丽慢慢地溜回公寓,悄悄地关上门,站在空餐桌旁。她用朦胧的眼睛望着灰蒙蒙的天空。自从她到家后,太阳就不见了,终于开始下雨了。奥黛丽伸手关上窗户,好不容易才让城里幽灵般的管弦乐队安静下来。

铅笔

西德妮今年21岁,和她的狗米娅住在纽约市。她最近从芝加哥大学毕业,主修经济学和全球研究。在空闲时间,她喜欢画画、写短篇小说和做饭。将来,她希望上法学院,在那里她可以培养自己对民法的好奇心。电子邮箱:sydwillo[at]gmail.com

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