【参考译文】

人生过渡期

文/ [美]朗达•卢卡斯1 译/曹明伦

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父母离婚终成定局。房子已出售,搬家的日子也已来临。这个家30年的生活此刻全被塞进了车库。在纸箱、家具和记忆堆成的混乱之中,唯一规整的就是那垛两英寸厚、四英寸宽、顺着墙根码放的木条。在过往岁月和未来时日之间的这段人生过渡期,所有的一切都滞然凝固。

从窗口挤入的阳光在碍手碍脚的一大堆纸箱上溅泼,像条荧光粼粼的河沿箱侧泻下,将冰冷的水泥地面的裂缝淹没。站在房子和车库之间的通道门口,我当时真想知道,阳光会不会顺势穿透塞在纸箱里的记忆。一时间我觉得,纸板箱恍若一方方墓石,像是为那些记忆竖立的纪念碑。

角落里那个暖气炉,那个将其指状分叉的大尺寸输暖管伸入墙体的暖气炉,没意识到温暖那幢空房子的努力已是白费功夫。它依旧发出有节奏的嗡嗡声,为我眼前纸箱里的记忆哼着挽歌。我关上房门,在台阶上坐下来虔心聆听。失落感让糟糕的记忆显得不那么糟糕,让不那么糟糕的记忆显得美好,再把美好的记忆存入我心中。可我仍感到心里空荡荡的,就像那幢空荡荡的房子。

立在我右边的工作台也空荡得令人厌恶,连一枚钉子也没留下。我第一次注意到,它竟然是一种那么黯淡、了无生气的绿色。没有了往日里横七竖八铺满台面的工具,它似乎是被放错了地方,就如同把浴缸放在了厨房。其实正如我扫视车库时所见,那里看上去适得其所的就只有屋角墙隅的几挂蛛网。

有部分纸箱没与其他纸箱堆在一起,而是摞在工作台前。纸箱上“救世军”2几个字被写得歪歪扭扭,像是废弃建筑物墙面上的涂鸦。这些字像闪烁的霓虹灯吸引了我的目光。字间透出讽刺的意味。“救,”我喃喃自嘲道,“对这个家来说已有点为时太晚。”

那一屋子曾为了与各房间色调配搭而精心选购的家具,现在乱糟糟地靠墙挤作一堆。各种颜色极不协调地混作一团,在车库的灰暗中骚动。

我忽然觉得车库里冷飕飕的,但我不想回屋,于是穿过纸箱挤到长沙发跟前,腾出块地方躺下,蜷缩起身子,把上衣盖在身上。我希望父亲早点儿开着卡车回来,这样我们就可以搬空车库,把貌合神离的家人间那种莫名的沉默抛在身后。

1. 作者撰写此文时还是美国东洛杉矶学院(East Los Angeles College)的一名学生。她这篇习作后来被教育专家玛丽•卢•康林(Mary Lou Conlin)编入《范文:短文读本》(Patterns: A Short Prose Reader)一书。该书自1983年由霍顿米夫林公司(Houghton Mifflin)出版后又一版再版,被美国许多大学用作低年级英文写作课教材。
2. 所谓“救世军”乃1865年创建于伦敦的一基督教派别,后发展成为一个国际性宗教及慈善组织。美国人搬家时多会把用不着的物品捐给教会或其他慈善团体(如“Salvation Army”或“Goodwill”等)。

原文:

My parents’ divorce was final. The house had been sold and the day had come to move. Thirty years of the family’s life was now crammed into the garage. The two-by-fours that ran the length of the walls were the only uniformity among the clutter of boxes, furniture, and memories. All was frozen in limbo between the life just passed and the one to come.

The sunlight pushing its way through the window splattered against a barricade of boxes. Like a fluorescent river, it streamed down the sides and flooded the cracks of the cold, cement floor. I stood in the doorway between the house and garage and wondered if the sunlight would ever again penetrate the memories packed inside those boxes. For an instant, the cardboard boxes appeared as tombstones, monuments to those memories.

The furnace in the corner, with its huge tubular fingers reaching out and disappearing into the wall, was unaware of the futility of trying to warm the empty house. The rhythmical whir of its effort hummed the elegy for the memories boxed in front of me. I closed the door, sat down on the step, and listened reverently. The feeling of loss transformed the bad memories into not-so-bad, the not-so-bad memories into good, and committed the good ones to my mind. Still, I felt as vacant as the house inside.

A workbench to my right stood disgustingly empty. Not so much as a nail had been left behind. I noticed, for the first time, what a dull, lifeless green it was. Lacking the disarray of tools that used to cover it, now it seemed as out of place as a bathtub in the kitchen. In fact, as I scanned the room, the only things that did seem to belong were the cobwebs in the corners.

A group of boxes had been set aside from the others and stacked in front of the workbench. Scrawled like graffiti on the walls of dilapidated buildings were the words “Salvation Army.” Those words caught my eyes as effectively as a flashing neon sign. They reeked of irony. “Salvation - was a bit too late for this family,” I mumbled sarcastically to myself.

The houseful of furniture that had once been so carefully chosen to complement and blend with the color schemes of the various rooms was indiscriminately crammed together against a single wall. The uncoordinated colors combined in turmoil and lashed out in the greyness of the room.

I suddenly became aware of the coldness of the garage, but I didn’t want to go back inside the house, so I made my way through the boxes to the couch. I cleared a space to lie down and curled up, covering myself with my jacket. I hoped my father would return soon with the truck so we could empty the garage and leave the cryptic silence of parting lives behind.

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