• 女性短篇小说《ADomesticDilemma》翻译赏析

  • 发布时间:2017-12-16 20:38 浏览:加载中

  •   On Thursday Martin Meadows left the office early enough to make the first express bus34 home. It was the hour when the evening lilac35 glow was fading in the slushy streets, but by the time the bus had left the Mid-town terminal the bright city night had come. On Thursdays the maid had a half-day off and Martin liked to get home as soon as possible, since for the past year his wife had not been -- well. This Thursday he was very tired and, hoping that no regular commuter would single him out for conversation, he fastened his attention to the newspaper until the bus had crossed the George Washington Bridge36. Once on 9-W Highway Martin always felt that the trip was halfway done, he breathed deeply, even in cold weather when only ribbons of draught cut through the smoky air of the bus, confident that he was breathing country air. It used to be that at this point he would relax and being to think with pleasure of his home. But in this last year nearness brought only a sense of tension and he did not anticipate the journey’s end. This evening Martin kept his face close to the window and watched the barren fields and lonely lights of the passing townships. There was a moon, pale on the dark earth and areas of late, porous snow; to Martin the countryside seemed vast and somehow desolate that evening. He took his hat from the rack and put his folded newspaper in the pocket of his overcoat a few minutes before time to pull the cord. The cottage was a block from the bus stop, near the river but not directly on the shore; from the living-room window you could look across the street and opposite yard and see the Hudson. The cottage was modern, almost too white and new on the narrow plot of yard. In summer the grass was soft and bright and Martin carefully tended a flower border and a rose trellis37. But during the cold, fallow months the yard was bleak and the cottage seemed naked. Lights were on that evening in all the rooms in the little house and Martin hurried up the front walk. Before the steps he stopped to move a wagon out of the way. The children were in the living room, so intent on play that the opening of the front door was at first unnoticd. Martin stood looking at his safe, lovely children. They had opened the bottom drawer of the secretary and taken out the Christmas decorations. Andy had managed to plug in the Christmas tree lights and the green and red bulbs glowed with out-of-season festivity on the rug of the living room. At the moment he was trying to trail the bright cord over Marianne’s rocking horse. Marianne sat on the floor pulling off an angel’s wings. The children wailed a startling welcome. Martin swung the fat little baby girl up to his shoulder and Andy threw himself against his father’s legs. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” Martin set down the little girl carefully and swung Andy a few times like a pendulum. Then he picked up the Christmas tree cord. “What’s all this stuff doing out? Help me put it back in the drawer. You’re not to fool with the light socket. Remember I told you that before. I mean it, Andy.” The six-year-old child nodded and shut the secretary drawer. Martin stroked his fair soft hair and his hand lingered tenderly on the nape of the child’s frail neck. “Had supper yet, Bumpkin?” “It hurt. The toast was hot.” The baby girl stumbled on the rug and, after the first surprise of the fall, began to cry; Martin picked her up and carried her in his arms back to the kitchen. “See, Daddy,” said Andy. “The toast --” Emily had laid the children’s supper on the uncovered porcelain table. There were two plates with the remains of cream-of-wheat and eggs and silver mugs that had held milk. There was also a platter of cinnamon38 toast, untouched except for one tooth-marked bite. Martin sniffed the bitten piece and nibbled gingerly. Then he put the toast into the garbage pail. “Hoo -- phui -- What on earth!” Emily had mistaken the tin of cayenne for the cinnamon. “I like to have burnt up,” Andy said. “Drank water and ran outdoors and opened my mouth. Marianne didn’t eat none.” “Any,” corrected Martin. He stood helpless, looking around the walls of the kitchen. “Well, that’s that, I guess,” he said finally. “Where is your mother now?” “She’s up in you all’s room.” Martin left the children in the kitchen and went up to his wife. Outside the door he waited for a moment to still his anger. He did not knock and once inside the room he closed the door behind him. Emily sat in the rocking chair by the window of the pleasant room. She had been drinking something from a tumbler and as he entered she put the glass hurriedly on the floor behind the chair. In her attitude there was confusion and guilt which she tried to hide by a show of spurious vivacity. “Oh, Marty! You home already? The time slipped up on me. I was just going down --” She lurched to him and her kiss was strong with sherry. When he stood unresponsive she stepped back a pace and giggled39 nervously. “What’s the matter with you? Standing there like a barber pole40. Is anything wrong with you?” “Wrong with me?” Martin bent over the rocking chair and picked up the tumbler from the floor. “If you could only realize how sick I am -- how bad it is for all of us.” Emily spoke in a false, airy voice that had become too familar to him. Often at such times she affected a slight English accent, copying perhaps some actress she admired. “I haven’t the vaguest idea what you mean. Unless you are referring to the glass I used for a spot of sherry. I had a finger of sherry41 -- maybe two. But what is the crime in that, pray tell me? I’m quite all right. Quite all right.” “So anyone can see.” As she went into the bathroom Emily walked with careful gravity. She turned on the cold water and dashed some on her face with her cupped hands, then patted herself dry with the corner of the bath towel. Her face was delicately featured and young, unblemished. “I was just going down to make dinner.” She tottered and balanced herself by holding to the door frame. “I’ll take care of dinner. You stay up here. I’ll bring it up.” “I’ll do nothing of the sort. Why, whoever heard of such a thing?” “Please,” Martin said. “Leave me alone. I’m quite all right. I was just on the way down --” “Mind what I say.” “Mind your grandmother.” She lurched toward the door, but Martin caught her by the arm. “I don’t want the children to see you in this condition. Be reasonable.” “Condition!” Emily jerked her arm. Her voice rose angrily. “Why, because I drink a couple of sherries in the afternoon you’re trying to make me out a drunkard. Condition! Why, I don’t even touch whiskey. As well you know, I don’t swill42 liquor at bars. And that’s more than you can say. I don’t even have a cocktail at dinnertime. I only sometimes have a glass of sherry. What, I ask you, is the disgrace of that? Condition!” Martin sought words to calm his wife. “We’ll have a quiet supper by ourselves up here. That’s a good girl.” Emily sat on the side of the bed and he opened the door for a quick departure. “I’ll be back in a jiffy.” As he busied himself with the dinner downstairs he was lost in the familiar question as to how this problem had come upon his home. He himself had always enjoyed a good drink. When they were still living in Alabama43 they had served long drinks or cocktails as a matter of course. For years they had drunk one or two -- possibly three drinks before dinner, and at bedtime a long nightcap. Evenings before holidays they might get a buzz on, might even become a little tight. But alcohol had never seemed a problem to him, only a bothersome expense that with the increase in the family they could scarcely afford.. It was only after his company had transferred him to New York that Martin was aware that certainly his wife was drinking too much. She was tippling, he noticed, during the day. The problem acknowledged, he tried to analyze the source. The change from Alabama to New York had somehow disturbed her; accustomed to the idle warmth of a small Southern town, the matrix of the family and cousinship and childhood friends, she had failed to accommodate herself to the stricter, lonelier mores of the North. The duties of motherhood and housekeeping were onerous to her. Homesick for Paris City, she had made no friends in the suburban town. She read only magazines and murder books. Her interior life was insufficient without the artifice of alcohol. The revelations of incontinence insidiously undermined his previous conceptions of his wife. There were times of unexplainable malevolence, times when the alcoholic fuse caused an explosion of unseemly anger. He encountered a latent coarseness in Emily, inconsistent with her natural simplicity. She lied about drinking and deceived him with unsuspected stratagems. Then there was an accident. Coming home from work one evening about a year ago, he was greeted with screams from the children’s room. He found Emily holding the baby, wet and naked from her bath. The baby had been dropped, her frail, frail skull striking the table edge, so that a thread of blood was soaking into the gossamer hair. Emily was sobbing and intoxicated. As Martin cradled the hurt child, so infinitely precious at that moment, he had an affrighted vision of the future. The next day Marianne was all right. Emily vowed that never again would she touch liquor, and for a few weeks she was sober, cold and downcast. Then gradually she began -- not whiskey44 or gin45 -- but quantities of beer, or sherry, or outlandish liqueurs; once he had come across a hatbox of empty créme de menthe bottles. Martin found a dependable maid who managed the household competently. Virgie was also from Alabama and Martin had never dared tell Emily the wage scale customary in New York. Emily’s drinking was entirely secret now, done before he reached the house. Usually the effects were almost imperceptible -- a looseness of movement or the heavy-lidded eyes. The times of irresponsibilities, such as the cayenne-pepper toast, were rare, and Martin could dismiss his worries when Virgie was at the house. But, nevertheless, anxiety was always latent, a threat of indefined disaster that underlaid his days. “Marianne!” Martin called, for even the recollection of that time brought the need for reassurance. The baby girl, no longer hurt, but no less precious to her father, came into the kitchen with her brother. Martin went on with the preparations for the meal. He opened a can of soup and put two chops in the frying pan. Then he sat down by the table and took his Marianne on his knees for a pony ride. Andy watched them, his fingers wobbling the tooth that had been loose all that week. “Andy-the-candyman!” Martin said. “Is that old critter still in your mouth? Come closer, let Daddy have a look.” “I got a string to pull it with.” The child brought from his pocket a tangled thread. “Virgie said to tie it to the tooth and tie the other end to the doorknob and shut the door real suddenly.” Martin took out a clean handkerchief and felt the loose tooth carefully. “That tooth is coming out of my Andy’s mouth tonight. Otherwise I’m awfully afraid we’ll have a tooth tree in the family.” “A what?” “A tooth tree,” Martin said. “You’ll bite into something and swallow that tooth. And the tooth will take root in poor Andy’s stomach and grow into a tooth tree with sharp little teeth instead of leaves.” “Shoo, Daddy,” Andy said. But he held the tooth firmly between his grimy little thumb and forefinger. “There ain’t any tree likethat. I never seen one.” “There isn’t any tree like that and I never saw one.” Martin tensed suddenly. Emily was coming down the stairs. He listened to the fumbling footsteps, his arm embracing the little boy with dread. When Emily came into the room he saw from her movements and her sullen face that she had again been at the sherry bottle. She began to yank open drawers and set the table. “Condition!” she said in a furry voice. “You talk to me like that. Don’t think I’ll forget. I remember every dirty lie you say to me. Don’t you think for a minute that I forget.” “Emily!” he begged. “The children --” “The children -- yes! Don’t think I don’t see through your dirty plots and schemes. Down here trying to turn my own children against me . Don’t think I don’t see and understand.” “Emily! I beg you -- please go upstairs.” “So you can turn my children -- my very own children --” Two large tears coursed rapidly down her cheeks. “Trying to turn my little boy, my Andy, against his own mother.” With drunken impulsiveness Emily knelt on the floor before the startled child. Her hands on his shoulders balanced her. “Listen, my Andy, -- you wouldn’t listen to any lies you father tells you? You wouldn’t believe what he says? Listen, Andy, what was your father telling you before I came downstairs?” Uncertain, the child sought his father’s face. “Tell me. Mama wants to know.” “About the tooth tree.” “What?” The child repeated the words and she echoed them with unbelieving terror. “The tooth tree!” She swayed and renewed her grasp on the child’s shoulder. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. But listen, Andy, Mama is all right, isn’t she?” The tears were spilling down her face and Andy drew back from her, for he was afraid. Grasping the table edge, Emily stood up. “See! You have turned my child against me.” Marianne began to cry, and Martin took her in his arms. “That’s all right, you can take your child. You have always shown partiality from the very first. I don’t mind, but at least you can leave me my little boy.” Andy edged close to his father and touched his leg. “Daddy,” he wailed. Martin took the children to the foot of the stairs. “Andy, you take up Marianne and Daddy will follow you in a minute.” “But Mama?” the child asked, whispering. “Mama will be all right. Don’t worry.” Emily was sobbing at the kitchen table, her face buried in the crook of her arm. Martin poured a cup of soup and set it before her. Her rasping sobs unnerved him; the vehemence of her emotion, irrespective of the source, touched in him a strain of tenderness. Unwillingly he laid his hand on her dark hair. “Sit up and drink the soup.” Her face as she looked up at him was chastened and imploring. The boy’s withdrawal or the touch of Martin’s hand had turned the tenor of her mood. “Ma-Martin,” she sobbed. “I’m so ashamed.” “Drink the soup.” Obeying him, she drank between gasping breaths. After a second cup she allowed him to lead her up to their room. She was docile now and more restrained. He laid her nightgown on the bed and was about to leave the room when a fresh round of grief, the alcoholic tumult, came again. “He turned away. My Andy looked at me and turned away.” Impatience and fatigue hardened his voice, but he spoke warily. “You forget that Andy is still a little child -- he can’t comprehend the meaning of such scenes.” “Did I make a scene? Oh, Martin, did I make a scene before the children?” Her horrified face touched and amused him against his will. “Forget it. Put on your nightgown and go to sleep.” “My child turned away from me. Andy looked at his mother and turned away. The children --” She was caught in the rhythmic sorrow of alcohol. Martin withdrew from the room saying: “For God’s sake go to sleep. The children will forget by tomorrow.” As he said this he wondered if it was true. Would the scene glide so easily from memory -- or would it root in the unconscious to fester in the after-years? Martin did not know, and the last alternative sickened him. He thought of Emily, foresaw the morning-after humiliation: the shards of memory, the lucidities that glared fom the obliterating darkness of shame. She would call the New York office twice -- possibly three or four times. Martin anticipated his own embarrassment, wondering if the others at the office could possibly suspect. He felt that his secretary had divined the trouble long ago and that she pitied him. He suffered a moment of rebellion against his fate; he hated his wife. Once in the children’s room he closed the door and felt secure for the first time that evening. Marianne fell down on the floor, picked herself up and calling: “Daddy, watch me,” fell again, got up, and continued the falling-calling routine. Andy sat in the child’s low chair, wobbling the tooth. Martin ran the water in the tub46, washed his own hands in the lavatory, and called the boy into the bathroom. “Let’s have another look at that tooth.” Martin sat on the toilet, holding Andy between his knees. The child’s mouth gaped and Martin grasped the tooth. A wobble, a quick twist and the nacreous milk tooth was free. Andy’s face was for the first moment split between terror, astonishment, and delight. He mouthed a swallow of water and spat into the lavatory. “Look, Daddy! It’s blood. Marianne!” Martin loved to bathe his children, loved inexpressibly the tender, naked bodies as they stood in the water so exposed. It was not fair of Emily to say that he showed partiality. As Martin soaped the delicate boy-body of his son he felt that further love would be impossible. Yet he admitted the difference in the quality of his emotions for the two children. His love for his daughter was graver, touched with a strain of melancholy, a gentleness that was akin to pain. His pet names for the little boy were the absurdities of daily inspiration -- he called the little girl always Marianne, and his voice as he spoke it was a caress. Martin patted dry the fat baby stomach and the sweet little genital fold. The washed child faces were radiant as flower petals, equally loved. “I’m putting my tooth under my pillow. I’m supposed to get a quarter.” “What for?” “You know, Daddy. Johnny got a quarter for his tooth.” “Who puts the quarter there?” asked Martin. “I used to think the fairies left it in the night. It was a dime in my day, though.” “That’s what they say in kindergarten.” “Who does put it there?” “Your parents,” Andy said. “You!” Martin was pinning the cover on Marianne’s bed.His daughter was already asleep. Scarely breathing, Martin bent over and kissed her forehead, kissed again the tiny hand that lay palm-upward, flung in slumber beside her head. “Good night, Andy-man.” The answer was only a drowsy murmur. After a minute Martin took out his change and slid a quarter underneath the pillow. He left a night light in the room. As Martin prowled about the kitchen making a late meal, it occurred to him that the children had not once mentioned their mother or the scene that must have seemed to them incomprehensible. Absorbed in the instant -- the tooth, the bath, the quarter -- the fluid passage of child-time had borne these weightless episodes like leaves in the swift current of a shallow stream while the adult enigma was beached and forgotten on the shore. Martin thanked the Lord for that. But his own anger, repressed and lurking, arose again. His youth was being frittered by a drunkard’s waste, his very manhood subtly undermined. And the children, once the immunity of incomprehension passed -- what would it be like in a year or so? With his elbows on the table he ate his food brutishly, untasting. There was no hiding the truth -- soon there would be gossip in the office and in the town; his wife was a dissolute47 woman. Dissolute. And he and his children were bound to a future of degradation and slow ruin. Martin pushed away from the table and stalked into the living room. He followed the lines of a book with his eyes but his mind conjured miserable images: he saw his children drowned in the river, his wife a disgrace48 on the public street. By bedtime the dull, hard anger was like a weight upon his chest and his feet dragged as he climbed the stairs. The room was dark except for the shafting light from the half-opened bathroom door. Martin undressed quietly. Little by little, mysteriously, there came in him a change. His wife was asleep, her peaceful respiration sounding gently in the room. Her high-heeled shoes with the carelessly dropped stockings made to him a mute appeal. Her underclothes were flung in disorder on the chair. Martin picked up the girdle and the soft, silk brassiére and stood for a moment with them in his hands. For the first time that evening he looked at his wife. His eyes rested on the sweet forehead, the arch of the fine brow. The brow had descended to Marianne, and the tilt at the end of the delicate nose. In his son he could trace the high cheekbones and pointed chin. Her body was full-bosomed, slender and undulant. As Martin watched the tranquil slumber of his wife the ghost of the old anger vanished. All thoughts of blame or blemish were distant from him now. Martin put out the bathroom light and raised the window. Careful not to awaken Emily he slid into the bed. By moonlight he watched his wife for the last time. His hand sought the adjacent flesh and sorrow paralleled desire in the immense complexity of love.家庭矛盾星期四那天下午,马丁?麦道斯很早就走了,搭乘第一班加快公共汽车回家。当他走出办公楼时,淡淡的暮霭正在化雪的街道上逐渐变浓,等他坐上公共汽车驶离市中心的终点站时,城里已是一片通明,灯光都亮起来了。因为星期四下午家里的保姆休息,所以马丁希望自己能尽早回家。这一年来他妻子的情况不大好。今天他很累,很怕有那个相熟的乘客会跟他没完没了的聊天,因此,一直到公共汽车过了乔治?华盛顿桥,他都把头藏在打开的报纸里。每回车子一驶上西九公路,马丁总觉的一半的路程已经过去,便深深地吸了口气,虽然这时已经是冬天,刮进烟气弥漫的车子里的冷风,只不过是一阵阵的,他也确信自己吸进去的是乡间的新鲜空气。要是在平常的到这时候,他就会放松许多,开始美滋滋地想回到家的舒服和好处了。但是这一年来,越是离家近,他越是感到紧张,甚至几乎不期望路途结束了。马丁的脸紧挨车窗,出神的凝望着荒芜的田野和随着速度掠过去的村镇上的孤零零的灯火。天边月亮升起来了,在黑沉沉的大地雪色的映衬下,显得惨白惨白的;在马丁眼里,今晚的乡野也似乎格外苍茫和凄凉。在拉响车铃通知司机有人要下车的前几分钟,他从帽架上取下帽子,把叠好的报纸塞进他的大衣口袋。马丁?麦道斯住的那幢房子离公共汽车站有一段路,离河近可又不紧靠河边;从他的卧室窗口越过街道和对面的小花园,可以瞥见远处的哈德孙河。他家的屋子是现代格式风格的,花园小小的里,很干净。夏天的时候,花园里的草很嫩、新鲜鲜,马丁精心栽种了一个小花圃,在玫瑰花的后面搭建了一个木架。但是在寒冷的季节里,花园里显得很荒凉,房子也显得光秃秃的。他回家的时候,这所小房子每个房间的灯光都亮着,马丁在大门前的小道上急匆匆地赶着,快来到台阶的时候,他停下来,把一辆手推车推到小道外面去。两个孩子在客厅里玩得很开心,连他推门进来都没有察觉到。马丁停住步子,望着他这两个既乖巧又可爱的孩子。他们把书桌最底下的抽屉打开了,把里面的装饰圣诞树的小玩具都拿了出来。安迪居然还设法插上了圣诞树小电灯的插头,那些花花绿绿的小灯泡蜿蜒延伸在起坐室的地毯上,一闪一闪的,散发出了一种不合时宜的节日气氛。他进门时,安迪正努力的把亮着的灯线往玛丽娜的木马的背上拉去呢。玛丽娜坐在地上,正把小天使的翅膀拽下来。孩子们一看见爸爸进了,发出一声欢呼表示欢迎。马丁把胖嘟嘟的玛丽娜一下子抱起来,放在自己的肩膀上,安迪也马上扑了过来抱住了他的腿。

      “爸爸,爸爸,爸爸!”马丁小心地把小姑娘放下来,又抱起安迪,把他晃了几下。接着他把圣诞树的灯线收了起来。

      “为什么都拿出来呀?帮我把它都收回到抽屉里去。你不能去动那个电灯插座。我不是告诉过你吗。这可不是开玩笑的事,安迪。”那个才六岁大的男孩一边点点头,一面关上书桌的抽屉。马丁摸了摸他那头柔软的金发,他的手温柔地停留在孩子细细的后脖梗上。

      “吃饭了吗?。”“嗯。不好吃,烤面包是辣的。”

      小女孩在地毯上绊了一下,她吓了一跳,然后愣住了,紧接着就放声哭起来;马丁把她抱在怀里,带她到后面的厨房去。

      “你看,爸爸,”安迪说,“烤面包――”

      艾米莉光是把孩子们的晚饭放在瓷砖面的餐桌上,桌布都没有铺。桌子上有两只盘子,里面有麦乳精和鸡蛋的残渣,还有两只盛牛奶的银壶。另外还有一只盘子,放的是夹肉桂酱的烤面包,除去给小牙齿咬掉一口之外,别的一点也没动。马丁闻了闻咬过的那块,又试探性的咬了一小口。他马上把烤面包全倒进了垃圾桶。“咳――呸――这是什么东西啊!”

      原来艾米莉是误把盛辣椒面的瓶子当作肉桂粉瓶子了。

      “吃了后跟吞了火似地,”安迪说着。“我喝了口水,跑到门外,张大嘴巴。玛丽娜统统没吃。”

      “是一口没吃,”马丁纠正他说。他手足无措的站着,眼光从厨房的这边看到那边,不知该怎么办才好。“好吧,”他终于这样说。“妈妈在哪儿呢?”

      “她在楼上。”

      马丁让孩子们呆在厨房里,独自上楼去找他的妻子。他来到房门口,站了一会,压了压怒气。他没有敲门,进屋后马上把身后的门关上。

      艾米莉坐在房间窗前的一把摇椅里。她在从一只玻璃杯里喝什么东西,一见他进来,赶紧把杯子藏在摇椅后面的地上。表情慌乱内疚,为了掩饰紧张,她故意做出一副轻松活泼的样子。

      “嗨,马蒂,你到回来啦?时间真快。我正要下楼去――”她蹒蹒跚跚的歪倒在他身上,她的嘴里冒出了一股刺鼻的雪莉酒味儿。见到丈夫站在那里没有反应,她马上向后退一步,然后吃吃的笑了起来。

      “怎么的啦?你站在那儿,就跟理发店前面不断旋转的花柱子似的。出什么事情啦?”

      “没事”马丁弯下身去,从摇椅后面的地上拣起那只玻璃杯。“我真希望――这样对我们全家不好。”

      艾米莉轻飘飘的腔调说话了,这种腔调他很熟悉。遇到这种场合她常常在说话时会冒出一种轻飘飘的的英国口音,有可能是从她所崇拜的女明星那里学来的。“我一点不明白你说的是什么事儿。也许你是指我倒了几滴雪莉酒吧。我才喝了一指高――顶多两指头。这又有什么不好呢,我倒要问问?我挺好,一点事儿也没有。”

      “好不好一眼看得出来。”

      艾米莉往浴室走去,很小心的保持着平衡。她打开水龙头,用手接住水,然后往自己的脸上泼了一把,接着又用浴巾角按按脸,把水汲干。她面容秀美,显年轻漂亮。

      “我正要准备晚饭。”她步履蹒跚的走着,全靠扶住了门框才没有跌倒。

      “我来做饭。你就在屋里吧。我把饭端上来。”

      “那不行。这样行吗?”

      “求你了,”马丁说。

      “别拦我。我没有事。我正要下楼――”

      “你听我说。”

      “你让你奶奶听你的好了。”

      她跌跌撞撞的朝门口走去,但是马丁抓住了她的胳膊。“我不愿让孩子看见你模样。你清醒些。”

      “模样!”艾米莉猛的把胳膊挣脱开。她因为发火声调变高了。“哼,就因为我下午喝了两口雪莉酒,你就说我象酒鬼!哼,我一滴威士忌都没喝。你知道,我从来不进酒吧。我在正经吃晚饭的时候连杯鸡尾酒都不喝。我只不过偶尔喝一杯雪莉酒。我倒要问问,这难道又有什么见不得人的?”

      马丁搜肠刮肚的想找出几句话使她安静下来。“咱俩单独在楼上安安静静的吃一顿。你坐着。”艾米莉坐在床沿上,马丁打开门,急急忙忙的退了回去。“我出去一分钟就回来。”

      他在楼下手忙脚乱地准备晚餐,一边又跟往常那样陷入了沉思,开始琢磨家里的麻烦是怎么开始的了。他自己原来倒是一向喜欢一两杯好酒的。以前住在亚拉巴马州的时候,他们总是用很长的时间啜饮一杯烈酒或鸡尾酒的,在他们俩看来,这是一件很自然的事。很多年来,他们总是在晚饭前喝上一两杯――顶多三杯,临睡前再慢慢地啜饮一杯。在节假日的前夕,他们有时也会放量饮酒,说不定还会有点醉。可是杯中之物对他来说从未构成一个问题,仅仅是意味着一笔开支,在家中食指日繁的情况下有点负担不起罢了。是在他的公司把他调到纽约来之后,马丁才明确地认识到他的妻子饮酒过量了。他注意到,在大白天,她也不断地喝酒。

      承认有酗酒的问题后,他便试着找出根源。亚拉巴马搬到纽约妻子的生活完全被打乱了后;艾米莉喜欢南方小镇那种懒散而温暖气氛,喜欢有在家庭、亲戚、儿时的朋友的圈子,但搬到纽约后,北方严峻冷酷的社会风气让她感到无所适从。在她看来,带领子女和料理家务太繁重了。她很怀念巴黎,但在这儿,她没有什么朋友,闲时她只是翻翻杂志,看看侦探小说,别的什么书也不读。没有酒精的温暖,她象是缺了什么似的。艾米莉暴不能控制自己,现在的他也慢慢地改变了对妻子的最初印象。有时候,他们之间会产生一种无法解释的怨恨,会因为酒精这个导火线引来一场不适宜的争吵。他发现艾米莉身上隐藏着一种很粗鄙的性格,这与她的自然天真格格不入。为了喝酒,她开始撒谎,还用莫名其妙的花招哄骗他。

      接着,还出了一件事故。大约一年前的一天晚上,他回家后,听见孩子在卧室里发出阵阵喊叫。推门进去,他看见艾米莉手里抱着刚洗完澡的一丝不挂的湿漉漉的婴儿。孩子从她怀里掉下来,头颅撞在桌子边上,头发上面还有一滩血迹。艾米莉在啜泣,她醉了。马丁把当时把受伤的婴儿抱在怀里,他面前升起了一幅可怖的前景。

      第二天,玛丽娜看上象没有事情一样。艾米莉发誓以后再也不喝酒了,这以后的几个星期里,她的确没有喝酒,却一直精神萎靡不振。接着,慢慢地,她又开始了――她不喝威士忌和杜松子酒――而是大量地喝啤酒、雪莉酒,还有各种各样古里古怪的酒;有一次他打开一只帽盒,发现里面都是薄荷酒的空瓶。马丁找了一个可靠的女保姆弗尔吉。马丁没敢告诉艾米莉纽约保姆的工资。艾米莉现在喝酒完全是偷偷摸摸的了,总是在他回家之后她就不喝。喝酒的反应一般也是察觉不出――只不过动作有点迟缓,眼皮有点沉滞。不像话的时候,象这次做出辣椒烤面包这样的事,倒也不多,弗尔吉若是在,马丁倒可以不用担心。不过,他的生活中总是永远潜伏着一种焦虑,总有一种不定什么时候会出现灾祸的预感在威胁着他。

      “玛丽娜!”马丁喊道,回想起那个事故,他就感到害怕,他需要在眼前见到女儿好好好的,自己才完全的安心。女孩后来再没受到什么伤害,但是当父亲的却越来越疼爱她了,现在,她和哥哥一起走进厨房。马丁继续准备晚饭。他打开了一个做汤菜的罐头,又往煎锅里放下去两块排骨。然后他坐在餐桌边,把玛丽娜抱在膝头上,让她“骑马”玩。安迪一边看着他们,一边把手指伸进嘴摇晃那颗活动已有一个星期的牙齿。

      “不能吃糖,安迪!”马丁说。“那颗牙怎么样?走近点,让爸爸好好看看。”

      “我用绳子来拔牙,”那孩子从兜里掏出一根乱成一团的线。“弗尔吉说,把它系在牙齿上,另一头拴在门把上,使劲一关门,牙就会掉了。”

      马丁摸出一块干净的手帕,隔着手帕仔细地摸了摸那颗松动的牙齿。“这颗牙今天晚上就会从嘴里掉下的。咱们过,家可要长出一棵牙齿树来了。”

      “什么树?”

      “牙齿树,”马丁说。“你咬什么东西,一不当心,就会把那牙齿咽到肚子里去。牙齿在你的肚子里会生根生根发芽长大,最后变成一颗牙齿树,上面挂满了尖尖的锋利的小牙齿。”

      “你骗人,爸爸,”安迪说。可是他却用肮脏的大拇指和食指去捏那只牙齿。“从来没有牙齿树的。我根本没见过。”

      “你应该说根本没有那种树,我从来没见到过。”

      马丁身子突然僵住,艾米莉在从楼上走下来了。他听着她那不稳地探索着的脚步声,不由得惊惧地搂住他的儿子。等艾米莉走进房间,他从她的动作和阴郁的脸色看出她又倒过雪莉酒瓶了。她使劲地拉开一个个抽屉,拿餐具、铺餐桌。

      “怎么样!”她大着舌头含混不清地说道。“你这样跟我说话的样子。别以为我能忘得了。我都记得住,你说的每一句谎话我都是记住的,别一厢情愿以为我会忘记。”

      “艾米莉!”他恳求道。“孩子――”

      “孩子们――一点儿不错!别以为我没看穿你的诡计。在这儿楼下收买孩子的心,让他们不喜欢我。别以为我看不透,不明白。”

      “艾米莉!我求求你――请你回到楼上去。”

      “好让你唆使我的孩子――我亲生的孩子――”两颗大大的泪珠迅速地顺着她的脸颊流了下来。“想唆使我的宝贝儿子,我的小安迪,来他不喜欢的亲妈妈。”

      艾米莉带着酒醉后冲动,对着吓坏了的的小男孩跪了下来。她双手支在孩子肩膀上以平衡自己的身体。“听我说,我的好安迪,你爸爸跟你说的都是胡说八,你不会相信的,是吧?告诉我,安迪,我没下楼那会儿你爸爸跟你说什么来着?”那孩子不知该怎么办,就用眼光去探索他爸爸的脸。“该说什么呀?妈妈想知道呢。” “说那棵牙齿树。”

      “什么?”

      男孩重复了那三个字,接着,艾米莉又用不可言状的恐怖语气,把那三个字念了一遍。“牙齿树!”她身子晃了晃,又重新抓紧了孩子的肩膀。“我真不知道你们说的是什么。不过,听着,安迪,妈妈很正常,不是吗?”她的眼泪象泉水似地从脸上淌下来,安迪往后退了退,想离她远一些,因为他害怕。艾米莉抓住桌子边,支撑着站了起来。

      “瞧!孩子讨厌我了,你成功了。”

      玛丽娜哭起来了,马丁把小女儿搂在自己怀里。

      “行啊,你最疼爱女儿。你从一开始起就偏心眼。这我也不管,不过你至少不要来影响我的乖儿子。”

      安迪一点点靠近他的父亲,碰碰他的腿。“爸爸,”他喊道。

      马丁把两个孩子送到楼梯口。“安迪,你带玛丽娜先上楼,爸爸一会就来。”

      “妈妈呢?”男孩悄悄地问。

      “妈妈一会儿就好的。。” 艾米莉趴在餐桌上,她哭起来,她把的脸埋在臂弯里。马丁盛来一碗汤,放在她的面前。她的抽泣声让他心烦,她感情很冲动,这反倒倒勾起了他的一丝柔情。他不由自主地伸出手去抚摸她的乌黑的秀发。“起来这碗喝汤吧。”她抬起头来看他,神色纯洁,一副渴求的样子。孩子的退缩或是马丁的抚摸使她情绪上有了改变。

      “马――丁,”她抽噎地说。“不好意思。”

      “喝汤吧,喝完再说。”

      她听了他的话,一边哭泣,一边喝着。喝完第二碗之后,她顺从地让马丁领着回到自己的卧室去。她现在很温顺。马丁把她的睡衣放在床上,正准备离开,这时一阵新的悲哀和醉意又袭上了艾米莉的心头。

      “安迪看见我后,把头扭开去了。”

      听了这些话后,马丁开始变的不耐烦,疲倦的他的声音变僵硬了,可他还是小心翼翼地说:“安迪还不过是一个小小孩――他根本弄不清楚你的胡闹是怎么一回事的。”

      “胡闹?噢,马丁,我胡闹了吗?”

      她的脸上满是惊恐,马丁觉得她很可怜,也很可笑,虽然她不愿意这样想。“没事的。穿上睡衣上床睡吧。”

      “我的孩子不爱我了。安迪看着妈妈,竟然把脸扭了开去。孩子们――”

      她的酒后间歇性忧郁症又犯了。马丁一边走出房间一边说道:“看在上帝的份上快睡吧。孩子们明天一早就会忘掉的。”

      这句话连他自己都不相信。这中混乱的场面会那么容易忘记吗――还是会固执的隐藏着,直到多年后又会重新浮上来起作用呢?马丁自己也搞不清楚,但是他的心沉下去。他想到了艾米莉,估计转天早晨她醒来之后她又会觉得自己有羞辱感:虽然她什么都记不清,但她会记得几个清晰的景象。她一定会给自己在纽约的办公室打去两个――有时候甚至是三、四个电话。马丁也预见自己会难堪,他很怕办公室别的人会觉察出家里的混乱。有时候他女秘书早就已经发现他的苦恼了,而且偷偷地在可怜自己。他一时之间憎恨和不满起自己的命运来了;他开始恨他的妻子。

      他一走进孩子们的卧室马上把身后的门关上,这个晚上他还是第一次获得安全感。玛丽娜朝地板上倒下去,又自己爬起来,嘴里喊道:“爸爸,快来瞧我呀,”说完又倒下去,再爬起来,一遍又一遍玩这种跌倒与叫人的游戏。安迪坐在小椅子里,还在摇晃那颗牙齿。马丁往澡盆里放水,在洗脸盆里洗了手,然后把男孩叫到浴室里来。

      “瞧瞧那颗牙齿。”马丁坐在马桶上,把安迪挟在双膝之间。孩子张开嘴,马丁捏住那颗牙齿。一晃,使劲一拧,那颗乳齿就拔下来了。安迪的脸上露出了恐惧、诧异以及喜悦的复杂表情。他吸了一口吐沫,吐在洗脸盆里。“快瞧,爸爸!有血。玛丽娜!”

      马丁喜欢给他的孩子洗澡,他不知道为什么喜欢他们脱光衣服站在水里,他们的身体柔嫩、光滑。艾米莉说他偏心眼,其实这种指责不公平。在马丁给他儿子那细瘦的小男孩的身子抹肥皂的时候,他觉得自己这是最爱儿子,再进一步都是不可能的了。他对女儿的爱更加严肃、怜悯还有有一种接近痛苦的温存感。他给小男孩起了各种各样亲昵的外号,这些都是平日奇思怪想的结果――对小女孩,他始终只叫她玛丽娜,但是他吐出这几个字时,他的声音本身就种一种温存的抚触。马丁用浴巾把小娃娃胖嘟嘟的肚子上的水汲干。孩子洗完澡后,脸蛋象花瓣一样鲜嫩招人疼爱。

      “我要把牙齿放在枕头下面。明天早上我会拿到一只两毛五的。”

      “怎么会呢?”

      “你怎么不知道,爸爸。强尼上回那颗牙就拿到了两毛五。”

      “是谁放的呢?”马丁问。“我一直以为是女神在半夜放的。而且我小时候大家拿到的都只是一毛钱。”

      “在幼儿园里大家都说是两毛五。”

      “是谁放的呢?”

      “是爸爸妈妈。”安迪说。“是你!”

      马丁把玛丽娜的被子用别针别好。女儿睡着了,呼吸很浅,几乎让人觉不出来。马丁弯下腰去吻了吻她的前额,又吻了吻她睡梦中摊开在脑袋两侧的两只手掌。

      “晚安,安迪。”

      回答他的是一声哼哼。安迪睡着了。过了一会儿,马丁摸出他的零钱,在孩子枕下塞进去一只两毛五的硬币。他给房间里留了一盏过夜用的小灯。

      马丁在厨房里兜兜转转,想给自己做一顿迟到的晚餐。这时,他忽然想到孩子们一回也没有提到他们的母亲和次争吵。他们都为当前发生的小事吸引住了-------牙齿、洗澡、硬币----儿童时代里总是充满了许多这样细微的小插曲,就如同一条水流很急的浅滩里回旋着的许多飘落的树叶,而成年人世界里的那些莫测高深的谜倒搁浅在河滩上,他们都被遗忘了。马丁突然很感谢感谢上帝这样的巧妙安排。

      可是他也愤怒,暂时被压下去的愤怒又涌上了心头。他的青春被的酗酒的女人毁掉,还有他的男子汉凌云气概。还有那两个孩子,等他们混沌不懂事的阶段过去------一两年之后,又将如何呢?他把双肘撑在桌子上,胡思乱想地吃着一点味道也没有食物。真相总是掩盖不住的---过不了多久,办公室里和镇上就会有各种流言蜚语,人家会说他的妻子不检点的。他和孩子们的前途肯定会越来越暗淡,日子就会越来越不好过了。

      马丁推开椅子,气呼呼地大步走进卧室。他拿起一本书,他的眼睛顺着一行行字往下滑,可是他脑子里却映现出悲惨的图画;他看见自己的孩子淹死,人们对着他妻子的脊背点戳。到他去歇息时,这沉郁、巨大的愤怒象铁块压在他心头,他拖着沉重的脚步爬上楼去。

      卧室里一片漆黑,只有浴室半开的门里漏出来一道灯光才把卧室照亮。马丁脱掉衣服,动作很轻。渐渐的,不知为什么,他的情绪上起一点变化。妻子睡着了,她的呼吸很安静。她那双高跟鞋,还有连同的长袜默默被扔在一边。她的内衣乱七八糟地搭在椅子上。马丁拾起了她的紧身裤和柔滑的乳罩,拿在手里,他呆呆地站了好一会儿。这个晚上第一回,他那么细细地端详着自己妻子。当他的眼光停留在妻子秀美的前额上,那两道细眉稍稍弯起的地方。这样的前额已经传给了玛丽娜,还有那微微翘起的细巧的鼻子。至于他的儿子,高高的颧骨和尖下巴核是从妈妈那儿来的。她胸脯高高的、腰肢很细,曲线很美。在马丁凝视着他平静地熟睡了的妻子时,他那股积了好久的怨气不知不觉地消失了。一切责怪她、埋怨她的想法都没有了。马丁关掉浴室的灯,打开窗户。他小心翼翼地上床,留神着不去吵醒艾米莉。他凭借着月光看了他妻子一眼。他的手向身边的身体伸过去,神情而又复杂的,既混杂着哀伤,还有欲望。

      作品点评

      卡森?麦柯勒斯擅长以女性视角来打量和描写两性的情感世界,仔细读来我们会发现她是一位对人性颇有深刻洞察力的女作家。

      《家庭矛盾》这部短篇小说,如题所示,讲述的家庭问题。但焦点放着丈夫对于精神压抑、酗酒成性的妻子矛盾而复杂的态度上,文章充满了细腻的温情。自从马丁一家人从亚拉巴马搬到纽约来后,他的妻子艾米莉就如同变了一个人,她整天无所事事,没有朋友,这能借酒精来麻醉自己,有时候甚至忽视了身边的孩子。作为丈夫的马丁十分痛心,原来对妻子美好的印象在一点点的消逝,两人产生了深深的误会和怨恨。可是面对妻子无助的寂寞人生,自己又不禁哀怜起她来。

      卡森?麦柯勒斯用自己最擅长的文笔描绘了一副家庭中琐碎而纠缠不清的画面,借助男性的视角表现了女性在婚姻及社会中无力的挣扎及绝望,令人深思。

      玛丽?威尔金斯?弗里曼(Mary Wilkins Freeman)

      玛丽?威尔金斯?弗里曼(1852-193年)是美国著名的短篇小说家。她出生在马萨诸塞州的伦道夫。她先是在蒙特霍利约克学校上学一年,后来又暂短就读于佛蒙特州伯瑞特波罗的一所寄宿学校。1902年,她结婚后,搬到新泽西州的美图辰。

      玛丽?威尔金斯?弗里曼一生创作的作品颇丰,许多重要作品收录在短篇小说集《一个新英格兰修女及其他故事》中,主要短篇小说有《卑微的浪漫史》和《新英格兰修女》,小说作品有《简 菲尔德》、《穷人杰罗姆》、《劳动部分》。她的短篇小说以现实主义和充满同情的笔调,细致地刻画了19 世纪末20 世纪初新英格兰独特的风俗人情,生动地再现了新英格兰简单朴实的小镇生活。与此同时,作为一名女性作家, 弗里曼在她的作品中同样以极其细腻的笔触对生活在这一时期的女性的日常生活和内心界进行了生动地再现和深刻地剖析。
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