Dirk Braeckman, ECHTZEIT #067-24//AP, 2024 ©Dirk Braeckman

ECHTZEIT #067-24

This is part of Echtzeit. For an introduction from the editors, more here.

Niña Weijers

31 mei 2024 • 2 min

This is where you live, your house. The house you own.

Nonsense, of course. This is not your house, this is a dream about a house. In the dream this house presents itself as yours. I am your living room, says the living room, I am your kitchen, your bathroom, we are your furniture. There is a child’s bedroom too, but that is off-screen, a dream within a dream, even if you somehow know without doubt that this child’s bedroom is a fact, that it exists, even if that can’t be said of the other rooms.

Your son is reading a book that opens with a picture of an apple. This is not an apple, he says in his high voice, repeating the words on the page, words he cannot read but knows by heart, this is a painting of an apple. Your son sleeps in a bedroom of his own, but not here, not in this dream. In this dream there is no son who sleeps in the child’s bedroom. Here there is only a child’s bedroom and it is located off-screen. Your son is reading the book that opens with the sentence This is not an apple, this is a painting of an apple, but you are seeing it as through the wrong end of a telescope, very far away, a pinhole to another world. Look, there is your couch, your couch in the real world, small enough to fit on the head of a pin.

Although nothing in the house where you now find yourself is yours, it all seems familiar. Not because you have seen it before – you are sure you haven’t – but because of the inevitability with which the things present themselves to you. This fox, this vase, this stove.

There are houses without secrets that show themselves as they are, able to account for every square inch. And then there are houses that keep something back. Because it’s more convenient or simply because that’s the way things have developed.

This house is so quiet, so deserted, your presence here seems scarcely possible, but you still run your finger along the mantel, which isn’t dusty. You feel the cold bricks, the surface, and think of the time you almost died lying on the ground. How the cold rose into your body from the stone floor and how, in that moment of almost dying, you were so terribly alive, wide awake, alert. Is this what came after that moment? This dream, this house? There is something you’re not seeing, something you can’t understand. Not a lack, but a presence. You reach out and think, in this place, in this dream, I am not lying motionless on a cold floor.

Here you can touch things you couldn’t even describe elsewhere.

Originally in Dutch.

Translated by David Colmer.

Niña Weijers (b. 1987) is a writer. In 2014, she made her debut with De Consequenties, for which she received the Anton Wachter Prize and the Opzij Literature Prize and was shortlisted for the Libris Literature Prize. In 2019, Kamers antikamers appeared, for which she was again nominated for the Libris Literature Prize, the Bookspot Literature Prize and the BNG Bank Literature Prize. She has been writing for De Groene Amsterdammer since 2014 and is an editor at De Gids. 2023 will see the publication of Casandra, a reportage/essay about a still unsolved case in Almere.

  • Artist contribution