He had first met Tereza about three weeks earlier in a small Czech town. They had spent scarcely an hour together. She had accompanied him to the station and waited with him until he boarded the train. Ten days later she paid him a visit. They made love the day she arrived. That night she came down with a fever and stayed a whole week in his flat with the flu.
He had come to feel an inexplicable love for this all but complete stranger; she seemed a child to him, a child someone had put in a bulrush basket daubed with pitch and sent downstream for Tomas to fetch as the riverbank of his bed.
She stayed with him a week, until she was well again, then went back to her town, some hundred and twenty-five miles from Prague. And then came the time I have just spoken of and see as the key to his life: Standing by the window, he looked out over the courtyard at the walls opposite him and deliberated.
Should he call her back to Prague for good? He feared the responsibility. If he invited her to come, then come she would, and offer him up her life. Or should he refrain from approaching her? Then she would remain a waitress in a hotel restaurant of a provincial town and he would never see her again.
Did he want her to come or did he not?
We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.
I just spent two and a half hours scanning slides and photos then Photoshopping them. My eyes ache.