Blooms of Darkness
always accompanied by a feeling of soaring—perhaps because of the splendor of the snow, or the long and bright nights. They would drink punch and read until late at night. They spoke little, but sometimes his mother would recall memories from her student days at the university.
    The cabin, the horse and sleigh that were at their disposal, the blankets they wrapped themselves in while riding, the thermos bottles and sandwiches, the little bells that hung around the horse’s neck—all that earthiness seemed marvelous to Hugo. All fears were erased. Just he and his parents, just he soaring on skis over the glowing snow. School, tests, obligations, and frictions were all erased, as if they had never existed, and Hugo and his parents were what they wanted to be: lovers of nature and lovers of books.
    The vacation would end abruptly. At night his mother would pack the suitcases and at first light they would mount the sleigh and go to the railroad station. That cold sundering, which took place early in the morning, would make Hugoshudder and cry. His mother would say, “You mustn’t cry about transitory things. Mama and Papa would also like to stay here longer, but it’s impossible to close the pharmacy for longer than a week.”
    Suddenly, that bright life is revealed to him in the closet, appearing before his eyes as it did while it was actually happening.
    At noon the door to Mariana’s room is opened cautiously, and then the closet door. Victoria tells Hugo right away that soldiers are making house-to-house searches. He must lie still and not make a sound.
    “Here are sandwiches and milk. If the searches stop, I’ll bring you something else at night, but don’t expect me.”
    “What should I do?”
    “Nothing. Lie down as if you didn’t exist.”
    “And if they break in?”
    “Don’t worry, we won’t let them,” she says, and shuts the closet door.
    Victoria’s words don’t calm Hugo. He lies on his couch as though paralyzed. All the captivating visions that had raised his spirits just a short time ago have vanished. The thought that in a moment soldiers will break in, arrest him, and bring him to the police station fills him with dread and weakens his knees.
    That evening the twilight is long between the cracks in the closet wall, and it gets dark slowly. There are no noises, and for a moment it seems to him that the night will pass without an incursion from outside. Everything will be accomplished quietly, with whispers and grunts. But that’s only an illusion. As the night begins, the pounding of hammers is heard, as is the noise of furniture being moved. The commotion continues for a long time. Suddenly, with no warning, as though to contradict everything that was threatening him, an accordion breaksinto song. A saxophone joins in immediately. Hugo is astonished. Now Victoria’s sowing of fear sounds like an empty threat.
    For a long time Hugo lies still and listens. The merry music grows louder and louder, feet stamp, voices shout. Above the din, women’s laughter is heard. It sounds as though someone was tickling them. This mysterious place, which encloses him on all sides, suddenly seems like Mr. Herzig’s banquet hall, where weddings and parties were held, and where Uncle Sigmund had been married.
    When he was drunk, Uncle Sigmund would often present Mr. Herzig’s banquet hall as a prime example. Mr. Herzig’s hall, disgustingly splendid, was the palace of the Jewish petite bourgeoisie. In it they would get engaged, marry, celebrate circumcisions and bar mitzvahs, and of course silver and golden wedding anniversaries. Uncle Sigmund loathed the Jewish petite bourgeoisie ensconced in large houses, in gigantic department stores, in fine restaurants, and in splendid catering halls. In his drunkenness, he would shout, “They’re empty, they’re overblown, they’re golems whose souls have departed.” He was particularly angered by Mr. Herzig’s palace, where the men would compete among

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