Monday, December 21, 2015

A quivering at the corners of her mouth

In all domestic arguments — as in all fistfights and armed conflicts, for that matter — there comes a moment when both, or one, of the parties can step back and prevent the situation from deteriorating any further. This was that moment. I wondered briefly what it was I was hoping for. As family and table companions, it was our role to intervene, to speak words that would put things into perspective and so allow the parties to be reconciled.

But did I feel like doing that, to be frank? Did we feel like doing that? I looked at Claire, and at the same moment Claire looked at me. Playing around her lips was something outsiders would not have recognized as a smile, but which was in fact a smile. It was to be found in a quivering at the corners of her mouth, invisible to the naked eye. I knew that invisible quiver well. And I knew what it meant: Claire, too, felt absolutely no urge to referee. No more than I did. We were not going to do anything to intervene. On the contrary, we would do everything in our power to enable things to escalate even further. Because that suited us best at this moment.
— from The Dinner, by Herman Koch.

May all your holiday dinners be free of such domestic disputes, and all your knowing glances be loving ones.

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