: She’s changed.
: How do you mean?
: I think that lately she’s changed.
: She’s grown.
: That’s not what I mean.
: She’s been growing since she was born.
: No, it’s her face.
: I hadn’t noticed.
: Has she still got the dimples?
: Yes, the dimples.
: Did she have dimples?
: When she smiled, yes. She had dimples then.
: When she laughed.
: It looked nice.
: Have the dimples gone?
: I’m not sure.
: But you think her face has changed.
: Because I’m just wondering, when was the last time she laughed.
: When you bought the cat.
: That’s two years ago.
: Last week, in the shopping center, when the forklift took the pallet of citrus
fruit to the underground garage.
: That wasn’t a laugh.
: It was more of a squeal.
: I think that’s it.
: I think her face has grown harder.
: Has taken on a harder expression.
: That’s it.
: Indicating an inner hardening?
: Don’t know.
: You don’t seem alarmed.
: Maybe she simply didn’t have a reason to laugh.
: Isn’t that rather naïve of you—
: We didn’t think—
: That you’re not even remotely alarmed?
: We didn’t think it was that bad.
: All things considered it’s quite a slight change.
: An inner hardening.
: That’s what you’d call a slight change?
: Your daughter is hardening inside.
: Nothing to report, anyway.
: That’s what we thought.
: But you are worried?
: Maybe a bit.
: Otherwise you wouldn’t have mentioned it.
: You’re worried.
: In the sense that parents are worried when their kids get older.
: That’s what I meant. Naïve. Where have you been? Yesterday the sun was so low that the shadows from the hospital chimneys reached the residents’ parking lot, they replaced all the canned peaches at the supermarket and disinfected the subway stations.
: You’re obviously not taking this seriously enough.
: You obviously have no idea where you’re heading and what the consequences might be.
—translated from the German by Maja Zade