The Yellow Notebook
* 4 A Short Story
A healthy woman, in love with a man. She finds herself becoming ill, with symptoms she has never had in her life. She slowly understands that this illness is not hers, she understands the man is ill. She understands the nature of the illness, not from him, how he acts or what he says, but from how his illness is reflected in herself.
* 5 A Short Story
A woman who has fallen in love, against her will. She is happy. And yet, in the middle of the night, she wakes. He starts up, as if in danger. He says: No, no, no. Then, consciousness and control. He slowly lays himself down again, in silence. She wants to say: What is it you are saying No to? For she is filled with fear. She does not say it. She sinks back to sleep, and weeps in her sleep. She wakes; he is still awake. She says, anxiously, Is that your heart beating? He, sullen: No, it’s yours.
* 6 A Short Story
A man and a woman, in a love affair. She, for hunger of love, he for refuge. One afternoon he says, very carefully: ‘I have to go and see—–’ But she knows it is an excuse, while she listens to a long detailed explanation, for she is full of dismay. She says, ‘Of course, of course.’ He says, with a sudden loud young laugh, very aggressive: ‘You are very permissive,’ and she says: ‘What do you mean, permissive? I’m not your keeper, don’t make me into an American woman.’ He comes into her bed, very late, and she turns to him, just awake. She feels his arms about her, cautious, measured. She understands he doesn’t want to make love to her. His penis is limp, though (and this annoys her, the naivety of it) moving himself against her thighs. She says, sharp: ‘I’m sleepy.’ He stops moving. She feels bad, because he might feel hurt. Suddenly she realizes he is very big. She is dismayed because he wants her just because she has refused. Yet she is in love, and she turns to him. When the sex is over, she knows that for him, it has meant accomplishing something. She says sharply, out of instinctive knowledge, not knowing she was going to say it: ‘You’ve just been making love to someone else.’ He says quickly: ‘How did you know?’ And then, just as if he has not said, how did you know, he says: ‘I haven’t. You’re imagining it.’ Then, because of her tense miserable silence, he says, sullen: ‘I didn’t think it would matter. You have to understand, I don’t take it seriously.’ This last remark makes her feel diminished and destroyed, as if she does not exist as a woman.