What I Remember

By Jente Posthuma, Translated by Sarah Timmer Harvey

I remember places but not the roads taken to get there. I don’t recall driving to the village to see my brother’s body, but I do remember him lying underneath a sheet on a table in the morgue, and the plastic bag full of wet clothes my mother held in both hands, which pulled her shoulders into a slight hunch. And his green striped sweater. I can still remember the birthday I’d given it to him. We were sitting on a terrace at the botanical gardens when he asked if it was a sweater for posh people. He seemed to like this idea and rubbed his thighs, which he did whenever he was enthusiastic about something. His pants were always threadbare in that spot. He’d hung the sweater over the back of his chair, then forgotten to take it with him, so I had to bike back for it because he was going to cook for our friends and still had to swing by the supermarket. I don’t remember that bike ride either, but I do remember how my brother rode, always at his own tempo, which was so much faster than my own that I always exhausted myself trying to keep up with him. He biked as if he were alone, suddenly veering off into side streets without sticking out his hand to signal and weaving between the cars waiting at stoplights. I always followed him furiously, as if he were a fugitive and I was the police. Of course, I didn’t have to follow him. My brother never understood my anger. He always thought I should go my own way.

About the author

Jente Posthuma’s critically acclaimed first novel, Mensen zonder uitstraling (People Without Charisma), was published in 2016 and nominated for several awards. Her second novel, Waar ik liever niet aan denk (What I’d Rather Not Think About), published in 2020, was recently shortlisted for the European Union Prize for Literature. Her short story “Wishes was awarded the A.L. Snijders Prize for best flash fiction in the Netherlands. Posthuma is currently writer-in-residence at the Jan van Eyck Academy in Maastricht, where she’s working on a literary nonfiction book and a podcast. Twitter: @Jente1

Sarah Timmer Harvey is a writer and translator currently based in Brooklyn, New York. Sarah holds an MFA in writing and translation from Columbia University. Sarah’s translations have appeared in Modern Poetry in Translation, Asymptote Journal, Gulf CoastJournal, The LA Review, and elsewhere. Most recently, Reconstruction, Sarah’s translations of short stories by the Dutch-Surinamese writer Karin Amatmoekrim, was published by Strangers Press in September 2020. Sarah also regularly publishes interviews with writers, translators, and artists from around the world. Twitter: @sarahsighs

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